Only 41 percent of Canadian small businesses have their own website, according to the 2014 Factbook from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority.
Consequently they may be missing lucrative opportunities as Canadians come to rely on the Internet to help them make buying decisions, the CIRA suggests. Interestingly, bigger businesses aren't faring much better: just 45 percent of Canadian businesses are online.
Why does it matter? Well, for example, 74 percent of Canadians reported that they search online, and compare goods and services, before committing to a purchase. With poor choice locally, two out of every three dollars Canadians spend online go south of the border, and we lag the US and the UK in terms of the percentage of our retail economy that is online (three per cent, versus seven and 23 percent, respectively).
THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
The internet is in many ways a champion of freedom and defined by accessibility. But in Canada a great digital divide persists where lower-income households remain without internet, another issued tackled by the newly released 2014 CIRA Factbook.
Only 62 percent of Canadians in the lowest income quartile have Internet access, compared with 95 percent of Canadians in the highest income quartile. This divide is also regional, the CIRA says, with British Columbia and Alberta enjoying the highest penetration rates, at around 86 percent, and Nunavut the lowest, at 27 percent.
"The good news is, after years of steady decline in international rankings, Canada saw significant gains in both the speed and price competitiveness of Internet service over the past year," the CIRA says.
Nearly 87 per cent of Canadian households overall are connected to the Internet, compared with 80 per cent in 2010, putting Canada 16th in the world and second among the G8 nations, just behind the UK.