SAQ Ranked 6th in Canada for Online Experience

SAQ Ranked 6th in Canada for Online Experience

14,000 Canadians vote on the best online experiences in the country; the SAQ comes in 6th.

The cross-Canadian WOW Digital Study reveals consumer and digital trends and a couple of surprises from 2020, a year where the pandemic pushed forward digital transformation across the country and the world.

The best online experiences in Canada are ranked as follows, with the SAQ coming in at 6th, two places ahead of 

1) Simons
2) Lush
3) Apple
4) Sephora
6) SAQ
7) Fizz
9) LUFA Farms
10) Nespresso, Yves Rocher

Methodology and Context on the WOW Digital Study

Created by Leger, the largest Canadian-owned polling and market research firm, the WOW Digital Study has been published for the past 3 years. This year, the firm surveyed 14,000 Canadians on the customer experience of 173 websites and mobile apps across 26 sectors. From onsite search to checkout to returns, the study identifies a site’s strengths and weaknesses.

Three Main Takeaways for the Study

  • The survey found more customers were dissatisfied, compared to previous years. They attributed this decline to changing consumer expectations, out-of-stock products and delivery delays among other possible explanations.
  • In 2020, while visits to websites and mobile apps dropped on average by 25%, evaluated companies saw a 50-100% increase in the proportion of visitors who made a purchase. So traffic was down but purchases were up. For context, in 2019, 13% of consumers made purchases, compared to 22% in 2020.
  • Fewer loyalty and experience customization activities: The survey saw that several companies, notably pharmacies, grocery stores and hardware stores have reduced or even stopped certain investments in loyalty and targeted promotional activities during this period of uncertainty. The SAQ, on the other hand, continued to invest in their highly successful personalized loyalty program.

The SAQ’s 2020: growth, despite the pandemic

The SAQ’s online sales almost doubled at the start of the confinement as almost 70% of customers opted for at-home delivery. This was an important shift compared to previous years as a strong majority of customers preferred to pick their purchases up in store. The SAQ’s omnichannel strategy, initiated before the pandemic, allowed them to provide a customer experience that was on brand and aligned with customer expectations. At the end of the fiscal year, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, the SAQ saw their net profit go up 6.9% to 1.23 billion.

How the SAQ built their omnichannel experience:

With Absolunet as a partner for their eCommerce website,, the SAQ launched a very ambitious eCommerce roadmap. This roadmap included updates to their ERP, which along with product information, is often at the heart of any digital transformation.

The SAQ’s omnichannel vision is centered on the customer experience, while also taking into account system integrations like in-store points of sale, inventory management, order management, the Inspire loyalty program, customer relationship management, and more.

SAQ: A loyalty program for 2.1 million users

The SAQ has focused on personalized experiences with Inspire Program data and Adobe Campaign for email marketing. A whopping 70% of sales come from Inspire members. 64% of members report that they are encouraged to purchase thanks to exclusive, personalized offers. In fact, those personalized offers garner 8.5% higher sales compared to 2.7% for other products. Inspire Program Members have an average cart value that is 44% higher than that of non-members.

Inspire Program members can:

  • earn points on products
  • get product suggestions
  • get access to new arrivals
  • attend events and participate in contests
  • access perks through the mobile app
  • create lists of favourite products
  • find past purchases
  • and use the card and the in-store terminals to get personalized recommendations.

Congratulations to the SAQ for their hard work and cheers to their continued success!

For more industry insights, read our alcohol retail white paper.