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Why Canadian retailers need to keep an eye on ‘commuter commerce’
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Why Canadian retailers need to keep an eye on ‘commuter commerce’ 

A new study by online payment company PayPal Canada and survey firm Ipso Canada reports that no less than 14 per cent of Canadians are engaged in what they call “commuter commerce.” The study describes the behaviour as “shopping from mobile phones while in public transport.”

Paying attention to this new cohort of shoppers and catering to their needs could be quite lucrative for retailers and marketers.

“Today, 14 per cent of mobile connected commuters shop while in transit and three in four Canadians (76 per cent) would consider buying a wide-range of products if mobile shopping options were easily available,” the PayPal Canada said in a statement. “Those engage in commuter commerce spend an average of $529 per month per person buying a range of items from movie tickets to clothing, shoes and accessories.”

With 4G LTE mobile connection being deployed in buses, streetcars and trains and more Wi-Fi availability in transport facilities, PayPal predicts that commuter commerce is poised for growth this holiday season and beyond.

What are items are on the top of the shopping list of commuter consumers?

  • Movies, games and concert tickets (62 per cent)
  • Clothing, shoes and accessories (62 per cent)
  • Gifts for family and friends (55 per cent)
  • Food and groceries (53 per cent)
  • Gadgets and tech accessories (50 per cent)
  • Furniture and home décor (37 per cent)

“We work with a wide range of retailers to provide mobile-friendly shopping experiences for Canadians. When paying with PayPal, people don’t need to enter shipping and billing details to shop from their phones on a crowded streetcar; which is a great fit for commuters,” said Kerry Reynolds, head of consumer marketing at PayPal Canada. “PayPal predicts that whether its gifts or groceries, commuter commerce will boom in Canada as savvy commuters use their time efficiently to shop from their smartphone while on the move.”

The future of commuter commerce is bright, according to PayPal.

Seven out of ten (71 per cent) connected commuters agree that they would like to browse their favourite stores on their phones during their commute, while almost the same number (69 per cent) agree that they would like to shop securely while commuting because it is a big time saver.

The proportion of active commuter commerce users could increase five-fold if mobile shopping options while commuting were easily available.

When asked, what is holding them back from shopping while commuting—nearly half (45 per cent) of connected commuters said poor or limited cellphone reception and the lack of Wi-Fi on public transport were major deterrents. Four out of ten said they were worried about security or sharing their credit card details.

Nearly two in 10 Canadians regularly use public transport more than three times a week. Of that number, as many as 45 per cent commute anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes each day and about 33 per cent commute for more than an hour. Sixty nine per cent of commuters are connected to their mobile devices while in transit.

“While using public transport, people are constantly peering at their phones,” Reynolds explained. “This presents a unique opportunity for Canadian retailers to target and engage commuters with flash sales, coupons or mobile advertisements during rush hours.”

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