Black Friday is upon us and it’s expected to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Once just an American tradition, Canadian consumers have embraced the trend and retailers have followed, with thousands of deals to be had between Black Friday and Cyber Monday this weekend.
Everything from electronics and fashion to housewares and clothing will have drastically reduced prices, and Shopify’s annual Black Friday/Cyber Monday Global Buyer Survey shows that commerce in Canada is not slowing down at the end of this week.
This year, Canadian shoppers plan to spend an average of $542 over the weekend, an increase over the $481 reported in 2020.
According to that same study, online shopping and cross-border e-commerce are expected to make up a big chunk of those dollars: overall, 89 per cent of Canadian Black Friday shoppers plan to shop online while 60 per cent plan to shop in store.
The benefits of shopping online and cross-border
The allure of shopping online sparkles bright for consumers looking to score big deals, according to Reach CEO Sam Ranieri. Reach is a Calgary-based fintech company specializing in cross-border e-commerce payment solutions.
“One of the benefits is the wider availability of products. There’s just so much more coming out of the U.S. or even Europe,” he explains, adding sometimes the prices are better — especially around Black Friday sales.
He also points to the marketplace sellers such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay being very popular with consumers — and for good reason.
“There’s so many different ways that you can shop online. You can go directly to a distributor or a big store where you go directly to where they are. And then there’s sort of marketplace stuff where there is a collection of goods from multiple places in one spot,” he says.
“So, that’s a one-stop-shop where you can find things… that wouldn’t normally be available in Canada. Exclusive-type items at a good price. There’s benefits in finding those gems.”
Buyer beware when it comes to online shopping
Ranieri has some tips for consumers to keep in mind when shopping online or cross-border.
His first tip when it comes to online shopping is to check the refund policies.
“A lot of people will order something without realizing that if it doesn’t show up on time, or if they don’t like the product, the actual refund could be cumbersome,” he says.
While many of the bigger players have solid refund processes, many smaller companies don’t.
“You could be looking at January or February before that product gets back to them and then back in your bank account, to which point you’ve kind of lost the reason for it. Definitely read the refund policies.”
Wait, there’s more
Ranieri says it’s also important to look at the duty taxes. Some are built into the price upfront but shoppers may not know there are additional taxes to be paid before picking up your package.
“Almost always there’s going to be an extra bill at the door. Sometimes that can be a surprise,” he says, adding it’s best to buy products that already include that cost in the price of the product.
Lastly, Ranieri says to remember that the price of the products you’re looking at could be in American currency when you’re shopping at U.S. companies.
“If you’re shopping on a U.S. site, basically what happens in that scenario is that Visa, MasterCard, or however you’re paying, plus two banks are involved in the currency spread. So there are fees that are added to the currency side of things,” he says.
“Basically, you don’t know the Canadian price until after you’ve purchased the item.”
Don’t forget the importance of shopping local this Black Friday and Cyber Monday!
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