Canadian small businesses, only 41.1 per cent of which have a website, may be missing lucrative opportunities as Canadians come to rely on the Internet to help them make buying decisions, according to the 2014 Factbook from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (www.CIRA.ca), the organization that manages the .CA domain.
CIRA's annual Factbook is a collection of data and information that provides an overview of the health of the global domain name industry, the Canadian Internet, and .CA's place in it. It compiles findings from CIRA's own primary research, carried out with the assistance of the Strategic Counsel and ZookNIC Internet Intelligence, with publicly available data from Statistics Canada, Ipsos Reid, ComScore, Websense, TNS Digital Life and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Among this year's findings about Canadians' online retail habits:
87 per cent of Internet users consider it "somewhat important," or "very important" for Canadians to have .CA.
Half of Canadians who expressed a preference also said they prefer .CA over .COM for business use, and for online activities that require the disclosure of personal information such as shopping or banking.
74 per cent of Canadians reported that they search online, and compare goods and services, before committing to a purchase.
Only 45.5 per cent of Canadian businesses are online. This divide is particularly evident among small businesses, with only 41.1 per cent having a website, versus 91.8 per cent of large enterprises.
Two out of every three dollars Canadians spend online go south of the border, and we lag the U.S. and the U.K. in terms of the percentage of our retail economy that is online (three per cent, versus seven and 23 per cent, respectively).
Other interesting highlights of the Factbook include:
Only 62 per cent of Canadians in the lowest income quartile have Internet access, compared with 95 per cent of Canadians in the highest income quartile.
The average Canadian visited 3,731 web pages per month last year, the highest in the world. We also ranked a close second behind the U.S. for the average number of hours spent online per user.
Canadians continue to be heavy consumers of online video, ranking second in the world behind the U.K., at 24.8 hours per month.
Almost 24 million Canadians, or 69 per cent of us, visited at least one social networking site last year.
The percentage of smartphone users who use their device to watch video or television increased by 21 percentage points last year, to 37 per cent.
"The Factbook provides a unique and important portrait of how the Internet is changing the way Canadians work and communicate, with each other and the world,"said Byron Holland, CEO of CIRA. "We continue to find that Canadians are unique in terms of why and how we use the Internet, the values we uphold online, and the pride we take in having .CA as our unique identifier."