Amazon beefs up online offerings in Canada
Additional 1 million items available on Amazon.ca, including musical instruments
Amazon made more than a million new products available on its Canadian website on Tuesday as it moves even further away from its roots as an online bookseller.
The Seattle-based retailer said it has opened two new "stores" to sell musical instruments and wireless products, adding to the 14 other storefronts it has launched on the Canadian site in the last year.
“We're committed to delivering an unparalleled selection of everything our customers need — all in one place,” Alexandre Gagnon, country manager for Amazon.ca, said in a statement.
Amazon.ca's musical instruments storefront alone has more than 75,000 items.
The launch brings further competition to the Canadian retail landscape, which has seen a variety of major developments and shakeups recently as bricks-and-mortar stores struggle with cross-border shopping and a rapidly expanding online presence.
Changing retail strategies
The retail shakeups aren't confined to the online world. Traditional booksellers such as Toronto-based Indigo Books & Music are increasingly adding wider selections of non-book items in their stores and online as they seek to counter a drop in sales of traditional books.
Indigo has been trying to boost its profitability by stocking more high-margin products, such as gifts, toys and lifestyle items, in an effort to adapt to shifting consumer trends, a plan that will expand to a rebranding of some sections of its stores.
Indigo announced last year that it would revamp many of its large-format stores to include specialized smaller shops focused on in-house brands such as Indigo Kids, Indigo Tech and Indigo Home.
But that strategy has not been enough to prevent store closures. Three of Indigo's big Chapters stores in Toronto have been ordered closed in the last few months.
One of the main reasons Canadians say they head to the United States to shop is the wider selection of products available there. Amazon's aggressive expansion of its online offerings in Canada is designed to appeal to that kind of shopper, along with the online shopper who never wants to head to a mall.
People who surf Amazon.ca have long noted that Amazon.com offers more products than its Canadian counterpart. The latest move by the Canadian arm narrows that gap considerably. Amazon launched its Canadian website in 2002.
E-commerce wars are heating up at such rivals as Walmart.ca precisely because it is so easy to compare availability and prices of the same product online. Figures released last year by Statistics Canada showed that e-commerce sales in Canada doubled between 2007 and 2012.
Despite the growing influence of online shopping, there has been no shortage of American retailers of various stripes announcing plans to expand their physical bricks-and-mortar presence into Canada.
Some of those expansions, like Target's, have not yet been successful. Earlier this year, Target Canada revealed that it lost $941 million in 2013 as it struggled with low margins and excess inventory.