International E-Commerce: US Small Businesses and Canadian Customers

Although we share the same continent, when it comes to international e-commerce between Canadian customers and U.S. retailers, the differences can be enough to sour a sale. And business is nothing but a hobby if we fail to close the deal.

International e-Commerce: US Small Businesses and Canadian Customers

In a challenging economy (like this one), expanding services to new markets is a viable option (with proper planning). You could learn by trial and error. Experience does have its benefits, but it also has its cost in time and frustration. Thankfully, you can also take advantage of the free Visa e-Commerce Cross-Border Handbook for U.S. Retailers.

This book is filled with useful information and statistics to help you understand the international market and strategize your next business move. If you are not used to market analysis (who is your target market?, how many are online? etc.), then reading this book will clarify it and make it much easier. You will learn:

  • The top three reasons Canadians shop on U.S. consumer sites
  • The top three items that Canadians purchase online
  • The number-one barrier to cross-border online shopping
  • Customer service concerns and why this is should be a major consideration in your Web strategy
  • Universal business strategies that have direct application to the Canadian market
  • Major areas to address and plan for, including the cost of duties, customs and value-added tax (Ignoring this one point can kill success in this market before you even make a serious start – a lesson I learned the hard way.)

What I liked and didn’t like:

Reliable Resources

If your market is Canada, then you don’t have to wonder where to find your data. This book is filled with links, references and charts to help you understand your new market.

Shared Authorship

Each lesson is written by a single expert or group of experts whose credentials are listed at the end of each chapter. Consequently, you get the benefit of multiple experts, including consultants, lawyers, a fraud analyst and a research specialist, in one sitting.

Academic Tone

My major dislike is a matter of style. I prefer a conversational tone, and while some chapters maintained that tone, others were far more academic in delivery. The plus: There is bound to be a chapter for everyone’s preferred reading taste.

If you are considering expanding your market to Canada, then this handbook is a good start. You’ll come away knowing the questions you need to ask and the places to start looking for answers.

“As a retailer, don’t fall into the trap that Canada is the 51st U.S. state. If you do, you are likely to be underwhelmed by their response if you do not take the time to understand their needs.” ~ Gregory Antrobus, Research Director at J.C. Williams Group, and Stephanie Wallet, Business Leader for e-commerce and authentication at Visa Canada


Jamillah Warner Jamillah Warner (Ms.J), a poet with a passion for business, is a Georgia-based writer and speaker and the Marketing Coordinator at Nobuko Solutions. She also provides marketing and communication quick tips in her getCLEAR! MicroNewsletter.

3 Reactions
  1. VAT is an issue I’ve heard several Canadians complain about in regard to US websites. You’ve just got to plan for it and set expectations correctly.

  2. Ms. Jamillah Warner, Interesting post. Could you compare the differences between USA and Canada according to NAFTA trade relationship and the different European countries and the EU.