Canada’s e-commerce managers not feeling executive love

Canada is trailing behind other G20 countries when it comes to e-commerce because managers face significant challenges that are unique to this country, according to a new survey.

Canadian companies feel they can’t compete with U.S. competitors, according to a survey released earlier this month from e-Path Consulting. From December 2012 to January 2013, ePath polled 69 e-commerce managers within Canada on their experiences while working in the e-business space. More than half of the managers worked for larger companies with more than 500 employees.

Canada is taking a back seat when it comes to e-commerce, ePath says. It cites cultural norms as a possible reason for less aggressive business strategies, as Canadian businesses are notoriously risk-adverse.

“It’s not about beating U.S competition,” said one manager in an interview with ePath. “It’s still about outperforming your Canadian competitor.”

In March, analytics firm comScore Inc. named Canada as the top country in the world when it comes to online engagement. Yet in a 2012 report, the Boston Consulting Group said Canada’s retail performance was just average when compared to other G20 countries within the online marketplace.

But the managers surveyed also named several other concerns that were more specific to their roles.

In responding to the survey, 40 per cent of e-commerce managers said they felt they weren’t getting the necessary support from the executive level to conduct their business.

“Although I have full control of my e-commerce group, I’m quite constrained by corporate strategy. The traditional ‘bricks’ part of the business still determines the overall business strategy. They set my budgets,” said a manager in responding to the survey.

Many managers also felt their online businesses didn’t necessarily dovetail with their offline counterparts. More than 65 per cent of respondents said they felt their bricks-and-mortar businesses were not integrated enough with their online storefronts.

But not all the blame can be laid at the feet of the executive and sales teams, ePath said. It noted that 62 per cent of managers said they did not have a formal innovation process in place within their companies, suggesting Canadian businesses are not as technologically competitive as they could be.

Yet more than 74 per cent of managers felt they were more than competent enough to keep up with the newest developments in business and technology.

That’s in stark contrast to a 2011 study from IBM, which interviewed about 1,700 chief marketing officers from around the world. More than 68 per cent of them reported feeling underprepared in dealing with the explosion of data and the rise of social media, while more than half of them felt they were not ready for global outsourcing and privacy considerations.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Candice So
Candice So
Candice is a graduate of Carleton University and has worked in several newsrooms as a freelance reporter and intern, including the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, the Globe and Mail, and the Windsor Star. Candice is a dog lover and a coffee drinker.

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