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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Any canadians running ecommerce sites?

    Hi, I live in Toronto, Canada. I was just curious if there are any Canadians on here who have their own online ecommerce site that caters to both american and canadian consumers..

    I was just curious as I am seriously considering opening a small online shop (under 10 items) and operate it out of my house.

    I also have a few questions...

    I just realized my customers will have to pay the importing tax (on top of the shipping fee) because I'll be shipping from Toronto. Also if I purchase items from the US manufacturers i'll have to pay the import tax and then turn around and ship items back to the US.. Do I have this right or am I confused?

    Also, to canadian e-tail business owners.. Do you use UPS and FEDEX for your shipping? I find the costs expensive to ship from canada to the states.. Anyone use just ordinary canadapost to send out orders?

    I'd also love to hear about any interesting experiences or suggestions for a canadian getting into ecommerce.

    Thanks in advance...
    Kevin

  2. #2
    ********* Genius Mike's Avatar
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    If the prosucts are coming from the USA, it seems to be a waste of resources to simply send it back down there. You should contact them and ask if they are willing to DropShip for you.
    Mike
    It's not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

  3. #3
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    thanks naramation, I think that is what i'll have to look into..

    anyway not many replies for my question.. maybe i asked too much. i was just wondering if there are any canadians out there running retail sites online that also cater to the U.S??

    anyone?

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Yes and yes.

    We do about 15M$/year in business, and about 20% of that goes to the US. We use TNT for our shipping, we insure it for the value, and customs declare it as the product type.

    Lower duty.

    J
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
    Personal blog: Strategerize
    Twitter: @jeremywright

  5. #5
    SitePoint Addict michaelwheaton's Avatar
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    I'm also in Canada and will be opening an eCommerce site, the majority of orders likely from the US.

    The product will be packaged in mailing tubes 12 inches long, 3 inches in diameter, and very lightweight... less than a pound.

    What would be the best method to ship this? It is an inexpensive product, so price is the main priority.

    Another problem I have run into is finding information on US Customs. How does their fee structure work? On the package, do I just include a regular invoice - or do I need some special "declaration" form?

    Thanks for your help!
    Mike

  6. #6
    SitePoint Member webwinz's Avatar
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    I am also in Canada, Toronto.
    I am running my eShop for about 1.5 years.
    I am selling real estate investing information: courses, books and software and most of my customers are from US. I have special agreements with many Real Estate Investing Gurus and they ship products for me. I am doing this Drop Shipping for all my physical products, but I am selling some downloadable materials straight from my server.

    Thanks

    Alex

  7. #7
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    Hi There,

    I'm an owner of a development firm.

    We work with about 6 different businesses that are Canadian and sell online. We just launched the newest site a couple weeks ago.

    Some of our clients offerings range from 5 products to 10,000 products.

    They do very well.

    We just finished beta testing our newest technology partners payment processing technology that is going to offer our clients the ability to offer direct debit payment and telephone payment solutions to their customers on the site.

    VERY very impressive technology. Backed by all US banks, Telecom Company's and now supported by one Canadian bank as a pilot project (direct debit payment).

    Very exciting.

    As far as shipping goes. They use UPS/FedEx and good ole (*cough*) Canada Post.

    One recent client success story:

    We revamped their site last November.. put in some SEO work on a limited budget. Their previous year's sales to the US was only 65 orders. Last year the had over 500 orders to the US.

    They ONLY sell their products for 4 months (winter) or the year.

    Great job for them!

    Getting Americans to buy is no different than any other country. Marketing, marketing and marketing. Build your site in a manner that speaks TO them and you'll do very well.

    Test, test, test everything.

    Hope this helps.

    Aaron

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Yeah, similar success story. Before we redid our online store a year ago the monthly sales were 35K, which really is paltry considering what we do in the bricks and mortar store.

    Anyways, redid it, added some really user friendly bits, made it more SEO friendly and sales have doubled since then, and they're just about to break the 1M$ mark for the year, which is great

    J
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
    Personal blog: Strategerize
    Twitter: @jeremywright

  9. #9
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    Is it just me or is it really hard finding suppliers based in Canada? Or is it that alot of canadian based suppliers don't have websites yet?

    How do the other canadians on here find suppliers of your products?

  10. #10
    SitePoint Addict LiveTronix's Avatar
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    I am in Canada. You can talk to a customs broker regarding Exporting items.

    I have just sold software.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Member webwinz's Avatar
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    Here is my limited experience in dealing with customs fees.

    I am selling real estate investing info on my sites and have JV agreements with many US authors. In many cases they were sending me their materials for review. These products usually cost between $100-$500 USD, so I was paying customs fees more then $100 CAD each time for this “free” stuff. Practically I was paying for the free product samples!

    Understandable I was quite upset and several months ago I asked the delivery person how I can minimize these fees. I was told to advise my authors to write on the package in the big letters “Used Tapes” and price package below $20. And it works!

    Hope it helps.
    Alex Bezborodko
    ---------------------
    WebWinz eCommerce Directory
    REIdepot com | REIdepotShop.com

  12. #12
    SitePoint Member
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    Anybody know of an Canadian-only ecommerce forum? Would be helpful to assist each other with unique Canadian e-store issues.

  13. #13
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    Cross border low value low volume business doesnt work... Either you need to ship pallets or find a US based MFR to drop ship.....Its the only way...

    Fedex, UPS, purolator will kill you with cross border rates

  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot
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    We are an eCommerce developer in Toronto and have many customers in the area selling their products online. Some have traditional brick and mortar business, others do not..

    There are some unique issues Ontario etailers have to deal with - Particularly with the way taxes are set up.

    Taxes
    8% PST for Ontario Orders
    7% GST for every Canadian order

    Duties
    As mentioned, it really depends where youre getting your products from and where youre shipping them - it can get complicated pretty quickly...

    Shipping
    Most of our customers simply use Canada Post - they have a really nice API set up and they ship pretty much everywhere. Pricing is great and their integration is simple.

    Many other issues to consider, but these are the main ones..

    Hope this helps...
    CartikaHosting.com
    Clustered, Business Grade Application Hosting

  15. #15
    SitePoint Member
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    Any comments of the viability of selling cross-boarder to the US?

    I would like to tap into the US market but is it worth the effort?

  16. #16
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    Hi CG,

    Of course theres viability of selling cross border - many Canadian companies are doing this successfully.

    However -

    - Product should be manufactured in Canada
    - Product should not be a commodity item - or not as commoditized as a PC for example
    - You should be dealing directly with the manufacturer, rather then a distributor
    - If the product is American Made, you should be drop shipping directly from the US.

    Thats a pretty good start...
    CartikaHosting.com
    Clustered, Business Grade Application Hosting

  17. #17
    SitePoint Member
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    Our strategy is to focus on the Canadian market first. Based on my own online shopping experience, the majority of e-stores are US based and is expensive to get goods shipped to Canada.

    Once I get that going, then I'll look southward.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Member
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    Anyone in Canada know of an contractor who I can outsource fulfillment to?

    Would like to contract out the acceptance of orders, packing and shipping.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    OSCommerce is a nice script that supports multi currencies and taxes and shipping modules.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for all the replies everyone..

    I was also wondering. Do i have to worry about sales taxes and what not when I dropship my productS?

  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Hi Jay5,

    Well - Ill use Ontario as an example -

    If your company is located in Ontario - and you ship product to a company in Ontario - you are responsible for collecting GST & PST (regardless of where the product is "dropshipping" from)

    If you ship product anywhere else in Canada, you are required to collect GST only..

    If you ship product anywhere outside of Canada you are not required by canadian law to collect taxes - however - international law varies and if you begin doing a significant amount of business with any particular country - you should invest the time to understand their specific legislations...
    CartikaHosting.com
    Clustered, Business Grade Application Hosting

  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast krazyvan05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martekbiz
    We just finished beta testing our newest technology partners payment processing technology that is going to offer our clients the ability to offer direct debit payment and telephone payment solutions to their customers on the site.

    VERY very impressive technology. Backed by all US banks, Telecom Company's and now supported by one Canadian bank as a pilot project (direct debit payment).
    Does anyone know where i can get more information about it, i am planning to open a e-commerce site based in vancouver?


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