Canadian Tire Continues to Reinvent Digital

When then CEO Michael Medline took control of Canadian Tire in 2014 he announced an aggressive growth strategy that was designed to modernize the enterprise to compete in the rapidly changing retail environment. Medline is no longer CEO, replaced by former and now current CEO Stephen Wetmore, but his long-term vision for the nearly 100-year-old retailer is still intact.  

Over the past two years Canadian Tire has been setting the pace for innovation, redefining and reimagining shopping in-store and out, with a focus on providing a one-to-one personalized experience for its customers. Seamless customer-centric experience is the name of the game at Canadian Tire as the retailer works to blend the digital and physical worlds and bolster consumers' connection for the brand.

"The enterprise has made incredible steps forward over the last 18 months on e-commerce and we are incorporating digital experiences into both our stores and online presence," Wetmore told analysts and reports during a recent earnings call. "Right now we have no fewer than 30 e-commerce initiatives underway providing us critical learning on everything from search optimization to website experience to back-end fulfillment options."

Wetmore highlighted a handful of the new initiatives underway across Canadian Tire's banners including: the testing of same-day delivery at Sport Chek, Mark's new enhanced online experience and e-commerce site, and Canadian Tire's wildly successful WOW Guide.

The WOW Guide is a turn-back-the-clock marketing initiative with a distinctively modern twist. For the first time in over a decade Canadian Tire has printed a 200-page paper catalog showcasing over 1,000 products. What makes this catalog unique and ground-breaking however is the augmented reality aspect of the initiative.

To accompany the catalog Canadian Tire has developed a "hover and discover" mobile application that leverages a mobile device's digital camera to recognize the images and watermarks on the printed page and provide additional digital content including dynamic pricing, videos, local inventory, etc. It is a perfect example of the retailer's strategy to blend the physical and digital worlds.

"The WOW guide launched by the Canadian Tire team is an example of how that team continues to innovate and deliver results," Dean McCann, CFO, said on the earnings call. "E-commerce transactions have more than doubled since the guide went live and we have seen great momentum in app downloads and visits to our website and other digital properties."
While the WOW Guide is driving additional traffic to Canadian's Tire digital properties it is also being created with helping spur a bump in in-store visits as well. 

"We can see the flow through in terms of conversion to e-commerce but what is really important and a little bit tougher to measure is the research online buy in in the store conversion," said president Allan MacDonald. "We know it is strong but it is a little tougher to get at specifically. We can see the correlation between visits to the site and then a corresponding increase in sales at store."
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