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Bilingualism in Canada: history, politics and business (e-commerce) opportunities

Bilingualism is the ability to speak two languages fluently. In Canada, bilingualism is an official language law passed in 1969. This allows English and French Canadians to communicate with each other in both official languages.

The history of bilingualism in Canada dates back to the country's founding. When the British and French colonies of North America were united in 1867, both English and French became the official languages of the new country. In subsequent years, the federal government passed a series of laws promoting bilingualism in Canada, including the Official Languages Act of 1969.

The politics of bilingualism in Canada are complex. While the majority of Canadians support the idea of bilingualism, there are also significant objections. Some politicians have demanded that all Canadians be required to learn both English and French, while others advocate a more relaxed approach where people can use the language they feel most comfortable with.

Business opportunities

Bilingualism in Canada offers numerous business opportunities. For example, companies that can communicate with both English- and French-speaking customers can tap into a larger market. In addition, bilingualism can be a valuable asset for companies looking to expand into French-speaking markets.

E-commerce in Canada and the opportunities

Canada is the tenth largest market for eCommerce with sales of US$66.9 billion in 2022. And it is expected to grow by 15% each year to 103 billion by 2025. Canada's linguistic duality (English and French are official languages) can be an obstacle for international eCommerce merchants, sometimes requiring them to offer multilingual customer service and sites to be successful. However, the Clonable tool can provide an opportunity here, as it is easy to create a French-language Web site as well.

Online shopping in Canada has been relatively slow to develop, in part because domestic retailers were hesitant to adapt and start selling online. But growth is now strong as Canadian retailers catch up and invest in digital platforms to reach customers across the country's vast geography (The country has a wide range of logistical challenges, from large mountain ranges such as the Rockies to the vast inland plains and arctic.) and respond to increasing competition from global e-commerce companies.

The Canadian business-to-consumer e-commerce market resembles the neighboring U.S. market in characteristics and preferences. Credit card payments, for example, dominate in both markets, and mobile commerce penetration rates are similar.

The availability of free shipping is also a major concern for Canadian online shoppers, with 72 percent abandoning an order if shipping costs are too high. Alerting customers to minimum spending thresholds and offers around free delivery could encourage growth in e-commerce.

The Canadian E-commerce Market:

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