Selling Online in Canada:

A Comprehensive Guide for U.S. and International Businesses

September 15, 2023
Commerce Trends
By Parnika Sharma

Canada's ecommerce landscape is thriving, with more Canadians turning to online purchases than ever before. For U.S. and international businesses, this presents a golden opportunity. If you're wondering how to break into the Canadian online market, this guide is for you.

How Do I Become an Online Seller in Canada?

Starting an online business in Canada isn't too different from setting up shop in the USA or other international locations. To begin, decide on your niche or what you want to sell online. Whether you're into collectibles, fashion, or tech gadgets, Canada's vast customer base awaits.

Choose a user-friendly ecommerce platform that resonates with your brand. Popular options include Shopify, Amazon.ca, Etsy, and even Walmart's Canadian portal. Remember, the best sites for selling often combine easy checkout processes with robust customer support.

First-Time Online Selling: The Basics

If this is your maiden venture into the world of ecommerce, focus on these essentials:

  • Research: Understand the Canadian market. What do Canadians love? How do they shop? Do they prefer credit card payments, PayPal, or other payment methods?
  • Platform Selection: Between Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and local gems like Kijiji and Poshmark, you have a plethora of online marketplaces to choose from. Each platform has its strengths. For instance, while Amazon.ca is excellent for a broad range of products, Etsy is ideal for handmade goods and collectibles.
  • Dropshipping: Not ready to keep stock? Dropshipping is a business model that lets you sell products directly from suppliers to customers, eliminating the need for inventory. It's an excellent way to test waters in the Canadian market without significant upfront investment.

Selling Products in Canada: Logistics and More

Once you've chosen your platform, consider the logistics. Shipping costs can vary, depending on where your potential customers are. While national carriers like Canada Post are reliable, also explore international shipping options for a broader reach. And don't forget to account for sales tax, especially GST, when pricing your products.

The Best Way to Sell Online in Canada

In addition to traditional ecommerce websites, consider leveraging social media. Platforms like Facebook Marketplace provide additional avenues to reach the Canadian audience. Plus, localized platforms like Craigslist or Kijiji are great for targeting specific regions, from bustling Ontario hubs to the French-speaking pockets of Quebec.

Navigating Regulations and Sales Tax

Business owners should acquaint themselves with Canadian regulations. While setting up, consider:

  • Business License: Depending on the nature and scale of your operations, you might need a business license. This is especially true if you have a physical presence or a subsidiary in Canada.
  • Sales Tax: Unlike the USA, where sales tax rates can vary significantly between states, Canada's GST (Goods and Services Tax) system is more straightforward. However, provinces like Quebec have their specific nuances, like QST, so be informed.
  • Language Considerations: If you're targeting Quebec, remember that French is widely spoken. It's advisable to have bilingual (English and French) versions of your online store to cater to the entire Canadian demographic.

After-Sales: Customer Support and Returns

After-sales support is crucial to retain your customer base. Consider offering localized customer support to address concerns and queries. Understand the return and refund policies typically expected in Canadian ecommerce and try to match or better those standards.


Entering the Canadian ecommerce realm is a promising venture, but success lies in the details. From understanding sales tax intricacies to selecting the right online marketplace and return management solution, there's a lot to consider. However, with the right approach, U.S. and international businesses can carve a niche for themselves in Canada's bustling online shopping landscape. Whether you choose to sell through giants like Amazon and eBay or leverage the reach of platforms like TheBay.com, ensure you're attuned to the needs and preferences of the Canadian shopper and that you have a partners like ReturnBear who can support your expansion and reverse logistics.

About ReturnBear

ReturnBear’s end-to-end return logistics solution gives eCommerce businesses access to a network of Canadian drop off locations and an automated RMA platform that lets you recover inventory and issue refunds faster. Better returns for you and your customers.

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