Tag Archives: ecommerce

Building a Magento site for Canada

Let’s talk about Magento and building a Magento site in Canada.  For the most part, the things that you require are going to be the same at the basic level – theme, gateways, etc.  However, there are a few things that are very specific that is needed for a Canadian store.

Shipping

You are going to need a Canada Post shipping module. Sure, you could ship via FedEx or UPS, but Canada Post is by far the cheapest system in Canada itself.  Purolator comes as a close second, but it’s still pretty expensive.  If you are shipping B2B though, I’d definitely look at either Purolator or one of the other companies rather than Canada Post as their combined shipping options (i.e. multiple parcels to same location) can drive costs down.

Accounting

You are going to need to figure out your accounting.  Now, if you are purchasing only in Canada, you don’t really need anything major or different – however, if you are importing products from the States or elsewhere, you will need to tie-in purchasing and logistics with your sales.  Quickbooks works well for this, but understand you’ll need a software to import the stock/etc in – it doesn’t connect directly very well.  Webtex is one option – but again, once you hit a certain volume of products, you’ll definitely want a better solution.

That’s where things get tricky- very few systems out there tie-in accounting with Magento very well.  Look for a dedicated system that deals with Magento and multiple currencies.

Domain names .ca

You will want a .ca domain name.  Purchasing one is pretty cheap per year – about $10 per year.  In the beginning, you might want to just redirect the .ca to your .com; but not having it is a bad idea.

Google Webmaster

Okay, here’s an interesting thing to do – make sure to connect Google Webmaster Tools to your site and then target your site to Canada.  It’s an immediate boost for your listings in Canada but

Currency / Canadaisms

Don’t forget to mention what currency you are selling everything in.  Not only is this necessary for your payment gateway, you’ll also want to keep your precious Canadian consumers on-board for longer.  Definitely consider flying the Canadian flag somewhere prominent – it’ll keep your target market on your site longer.

French / English

Have only a few products? Seriously consider putting up a French translation of your site.  It’s a great way to get customers from Quebec and help you rank higher for a certain demographic.  Of course, the problem is if you have a lot of different products, you might want to avoid this due to the huge costs of implementation.

Starting out online

Over the last few months, we’ve talked to quite a few business owners looking to sell online.  Some are just starting out, others have an existing business that aren’t supported by their existing shopping cart software.   There’s basically 3 ways to sell an item online:

  • an online marketplace like eBay, etsy or Amazon
  • using a SaaS shopping cart (e.g. Volusion, Magento Go, Shopify)
  • using a self-hosted shopping cart (osCommerce, Zencart, Magento Community/Enterprise)

Deciding which of these three options works for you best depends on:

  • the number of products / skus
  • the  present revenue generated
  • expected future revenue from the cart
  • your personal HTML / CSS / Graphic Design ability
  • and of course, your budget

It’s the balance of these three that I think pushes many smaller businesses towards the first two options, and truthfully isn’t such a bad idea.   The trick is of course reviewing your options with full knowledge of what the pro’s and con’s really are.