Millennials and technology transforming Canadian retail landscape

 Canadian retailers becoming more customer-focused in an effort to retain them

TORONTO, March 23, 2016 /CNW/ -  Canadian retailers have fallen behind trying to attract, convert, and retain their customers who are now, more than ever, turning to various platforms such as mobile, online and in-store (omni-channel) shopping experiences. According to PwC's Total Retail 2016 report released today, Canadian retailers need to focus on customers, especially millennials, and revolutionize the shopping experience to meet the evolving needs of a changing customer base.

According to the report, 42% of Millennials (18-34 year olds) buy online monthly and they also want easy ways to navigate online using their mobile devices while in the store. This technologically-savvy group is disrupting the Canadian retail landscape by re-inventing the way customer data is collected to help create personalized retail experiences.

"Today's purchasing experience starts from the moment a customer compares products on-line or on their mobile device and goes all the way through to completing the transaction, whether digitally or in store. Throughout the omni-channel experience, customers provide data to retailers, creating several potential points of customer insight," says Ted Salter, Partner, Consulting and Deals. "Using the insights from this data effectively through the deployment of enabling technology can enhance the customer's future experiences while increasing sales and customer engagement. For the customer, it provides a seamless personalized experience that builds a sense of community and loyalty towards retailers."

While mobile devices are a long way from becoming a significant point-of-purchase tool in Canada, 18-24 year old customers use their smartphones/mobiles to access store coupons and promotional codes (50% vs 35% globally); compare prices with competitors (42% in Canada and globally); and read product reviews (33% vs 32% globally). 

The report provides four key insights that are important to consider in the shift to creating an even more customer-centric retail experience:


According to the report, customers want a seamless experience in which they feel like an "insider" including being informed of new products, feeling part of a larger like-minded community and being engaged in loyalty programs that are relevant to them.  


A total of 66% of Canadians surveyed indicated that price is one of the top reasons for shopping at their favourite retailer. However, 63% of Canadian millennials specified that they are willing to buy a product online from another country- (clothing and footwear (57%), books, music, movies, and video games (44%), and consumer electronics and computers (30%))- if the price is better.


The shopping journey for Canadians consists of many experiences including online, mobile, and in-store. According to the report, 53% of Canadian consumers research household appliances online while 71% buy them in-store. Regardless of the channel, respondents indicated that they are looking for product knowledge and information on all channels including online, mobile, in-store as well as knowledgeable sales associates.


The transformation of the retail industry in Canada requires retailers to evaluate their current structure and organize it around the customer, including building new technological capabilities, upgrading or improving systems and creating linkages between the different aspects of omni-channel shopping environments. 

The 2016 Total Retail Report also highlights other Canadian shopping trends, including:

  • Almost 40% of consumers under the age of 34 say that interactions with their favourite brands through social media have driven them to respect and value those brands more
  • 68% made their first online purchase more than three years ago
  • 46% say 'convenience' is their main reason for shopping online
  • Top products that customers research online via computer, tablet or mobile: 66% consumer electronics and computers, 63% books, music, movies and video games, 53% household appliances
  • Top products that customers purchase online via computer, tablet or mobile: 52% books, music, movies and video games, 28% consumer electronics and computers, 23% clothing and footwear
  • Top products customers research in-store: 51% grocery, 38% furniture and homeware, 36% clothing and footwear
  • Top products customers purchase in-store: 82% do-it-yourself/home improvement, 72% furniture and homeware, 71% household appliances

To explore the Canadian insights from this year's survey please visit:

Follow PwC on Twitter at @PwC_Canada_LLP and on Facebook at

About PwC Canada
At PwC Canada, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. More than 6,500 partners and staff in offices across the country are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax, consulting and deals services. PwC Canada is a member of the PwC network of firms with more than 208,000 people in 157 countries. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at

© 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership. All rights reserved.

PwC refers to the Canadian member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.

SOURCE PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers)

For further information: Pierre Campeau, Manager, Public Relations, T: 416 687-8643, Email:; David Gollom, Senior Manager, Public Relations & Social Media, T: 416 869-2386, Email:


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