E-Commerce and digital marketing resources for Canadian exporters to the United States
Taking advantage of internet sales can be easy, and it allows you to gain access to new markets from the comfort of home. But there are many things to know, from how to get your products shipped to online buyers to any hidden costs associated with e‑commerce that you should be aware of when you’re calculating your total outlay.
Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), its partners and a number of other organizations and companies have you—digitally—covered.
There are lots of online resources, electronic tools and practical videos for Canadian companies doing business in the United States (U.S.). From general information on e‑commerce or how to deal with the Amazon platform to important practical issues such as state sales taxation, social media marketing as well as shipping and logistics, there’s a vast array of materials available that can demystify doing business via e‑commerce in the U.S.
Start by consulting the TCS website for advice and strategies:
- Tips and guidance on competing in the U.S.
- Exporting to the United States – A Guide for Canadian Businesses
- e‑commerce Guide to the United States
- e‑commerce – Grow your global presence
You can also find specialized resources for your sector or field of interest, such as a Practical guide for a successful influencer marketing strategy – Fashion and clothing sector.
There are myriad details for companies to be aware of and things to do when it comes to exporting to the U.S. You can find out more about these online, from getting an Employer Identification Number for your company, for tax purposes, to protecting your intellectual property, for example by registering a trademark there.
You can find resources that help you identify harmonized system (HS) codes and tariffs through the Canada Tariff Finder. It also gives you access to information on how small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) can take advantage of Canada’s free trade agreements to export to key markets.
Mastering the customs process is going to be a critical component of any successful offshore e‑commerce endeavour. Canada Post has developed a great customs guide to consult. Want more? Go to the source and check out the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service’s content on the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement (English only), which provides a wide variety of material for companies importing into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico.
It’s important to make sure that your business complies with U.S. sales tax rules and regulations. Learn about the various tax ins and outs through a webinar on U.S. sales tax compliance for Canadian technology, software and other sellers (English only), developed by the TCS in Washington in collaboration with the cross‑border team at Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman, a law firm in Buffalo, NY.
There’s a variety of general materials at your disposal from the TCS and its partners that delve into online sales in the U.S. These include Export Development Canada’s guide on doing business in the United States, the Business Development Bank of Canada’s e‑commerce toolkit and frequently asked questions on exporting to the U.S. as well as a TCS webpage on doing business in the United States.
Selling via e‑commerce channels to the U.S. poses lots of challenges in terms of shipping and logistics. The TCS has developed a guide on the topic that can help companies whether they’re selling directly to consumers via a website or using an online marketplace fulfillment centre, warehousing service or third‑party in‑country distributor.
Want to go further afield? Canadian companies like Shopify have developed interesting insights and resources on topics like shipping and fulfillment and building online stores. You can also take an e‑commerce webinar through the Amazon Small Business Academy, which offers lots of information on selling through its online stores and international sales. There is also a good video series from Professor Mark Wolters of the University of Illinois on the topic of social media marketing for the U.S. market, with topics such as:
- Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media
- Analyze Your Digital Footprint
- Social Media Platforms in the U.S. Market
- Create Your Social Media Plan
- Market Research Basics for the U.S. Market
- Market Segmentation Basics for the U.S. Market
- Supplier diversity opportunities for Indigenous businesses
- Supplier diversity opportunities for women
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