Despite historically trailing behind other countries in seamless commerce, Canada emerged fourth among eight major countries in making retailing a simpler, friendlier and more convenient experience for consumers, according to a new KPMG International report.

"Canadian retailers are making significant strides to build bridges across multiple channels – online and bricks and mortar – to become more efficient and improve the consumer shopping experience," says Kostya Polyakov, Partner and National Leader for Consumer and Retail, KPMG in Canada. "Amid tight profit margins, higher costs and sharply lower discretionary spending, retailers recognize they must embrace digital solutions to remain competitive and stay in business."

Over the past three years, Canadian retailers accelerated their growth in omnichannel solutions amid increased expectations from consumers now accustomed to purchasing from giant U.S. retailers, which in many cases are further ahead in digitizing their operations, adds Mr. Polyakov.

A recent KPMG in Canada survey found that, despite the pandemic accelerating the move to online shopping, 67 per cent of Canadians still prefer to shop in-store versus online. A similar storyline is unfolding in the U.S., with 70 per cent of total retail sales coming from brick-and-mortar locations, the report finds.

The survey found Canadian shoppers want more detailed specs, better search functionality, easier returns, the ability to ask questions about a product and a better delivery experience as necessary to improve the online shopping experience. Meanwhile, research found that Americans focus more on speed, convenience, and personalization, likely due to the larger availability of e-commerce experiences and products in the U.S., the report says.

"Retailers must shift their focus from channel to customer," says Mr. Polyakov. "Consumers expect retailers to meet them where they are – online, whether it's mobile or laptop, in-store, or on social media – and to deliver the same experience regardless. The only way retailers can meet their expectations is by breaking down data silos and developing a seamless, connected experience."

A new type of shopping experience is emerging

While physical stores aren't disappearing anytime soon, Canadian consumers expect a 'phygital' shopping experience, which seamlessly combines the service experience of in-store shopping with the product variety and convenience found online, says Mr. Polyakov.

"E-commerce capabilities like click and collect and return in-store are becoming must-have services for retailers to remain competitive," he says. "But seamless commerce needs to go beyond that. Our survey found almost two-thirds of Canadians want retailers to be more creative when replicating in-store experiences online, such as using virtual reality and artificial intelligence."

Retailers in China and most of Asia are already adopting live social commerce—which allows for real-time buying and interaction during live video events. However, Canada has yet to catch on to this concept, with KPMG's research finding that most Canadians don't make purchases from social platforms, and that's not expected to change soon. Over the next three to five years, only four per cent of Canadians say they intend to use social platforms more frequently to make purchases—while nearly five per cent expect to use them less frequently.

"While live commerce isn't a huge factor yet in Canada, we expect this will change as more retailers experiment with their offerings to attract younger audiences who find the format fun and engaging and a way to secure better deals and prices," says Mr. Polyakov.

"Retailers will need to stay one step ahead by delivering consistent, personalized experiences, regardless of how customers choose to shop," says Mr. Polyakov.

Key report highlights:

  • A customer-aligned workforce: This suggests that Canadian retailers might already be shifting towards incentivizing customer-centric KPIs over traditional product and channel-centric metrics
  • Challenges with strategy driven by insights: Canadian retailers may face challenges in breaking down data silos and leveraging data analytics to drive strategic decisions
  • Relatively strong in adopting digital technologies: Canada should look at further leveraging AI to enhance the customer experience and operational efficiency
  • Lower product and service innovation: There's potential to push the boundaries further by leveraging customer data to tailor product assortments and develop more personalized services

Learn more about the future of seamless commerce in Canada.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, a limited liability partnership, is a full-service Audit, Tax and Advisory firm owned and operated by Canadians. For over 150 years, our professionals have provided consulting, accounting, auditing, and tax services to Canadians, inspiring confidence, empowering change, and driving innovation. Guided by our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better, KPMG employs more than 10,000 people in over 40 locations across Canada, serving private- and public-sector clients. KPMG is consistently ranked one of Canada's top employers and one of the best places to work in the country.

The firm is established under the laws of Ontario and is a member of KPMG's global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a private English company limited by guarantee. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. For more information, see

For media inquiries:

Alannah Page
National Communications and Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(306) 934-6255

Caroline Van Hasselt
National Communications and Media Relations
KPMG in Canada
(416) 777-3328