Canadian Tire’s Digital Strategy Incorporating Google Now Location Cards

July 29, 2015 Ben Myers
TJ Flood Canadian Tire Google July 28
TJ Flood, Senior Vice-President of Marketing at Canadian Tire talks strategy with Google on July 28.

Canadian Tire’s app is integrated with Google Now.

That short statement must be a mouthful for TJ Flood, Senior Vice-President of Marketing at that most stereotypically Canadian of retailers.

At a Retail Trends Breakfast hosted by Google on July 28, Flood described how Canadian Tire has followed the consumer across categories from tires to hockey sticks to groceries and clothing over the past 90 years. Being integrated with the latest mobile technology is just the latest way that they’re serving the typical busy family.

Continuous evolution at a breakneck speed.

“Continuous evolution at a breakneck speed,” is how Flood describes the pace of innovation. Since 2014, Canadian Tire has opened a Digital Garage in Waterloo in partnership with Communitech, and its Cloud Nine Digital Innovation Centre in Winnipeg – both with the purpose of creating and servicing the next wave of digital consumer innovation.

Google Now retail product integration
A Google Now card featuring products available nearby.

Canadian Tire is simply adapting to how their key demographic, busy people with families, are living their life, Flood says.

“As [customers] are migrating their media consumption habits, and their lives get busier, and their information requirements increase, we need to be there,” Flood says.

Wherever consumers are looking for information about housewares, sporting goods or their cars, Canadian Tire should appear. As busy families (or any other group of people) increasingly turn to online sources and mobile, that’s where retailers need to appear in one form or another.

“For us, it doesn’t seem like a big stretch to evolve into the digital environment because we’re so in tune with what Canadians are and how they’re living,” Flood says. “Now we just need to adapt again.”

During his portion of the presentation, Chris Hodgson, Head of Retail and Tech Sectors at Google Canada stated an undeniable fact that should guide all omnichannel retailers: 94% of all purchases still happen in-store.

Whether you’re buying online or in a store, the app and other online tools should support that – not simply divert you to the online purchase path.

It doesn’t seem like a big stretch to evolve into the digital environment.

Canadian Tire iphone appThat’s why the Canadian Tire app that doesn’t just show you products to buy online, it has several tools to guide your shopping experience. In addition to a digital flyer, it has an auto parts selector, barcode scanner, in-store inventory status, and your Canadian Tire money account.

Flood says that he admires how Google is committed to testing new features, moving quickly and figuring things out using data. Google Now might be the best example of this. When a customer with the Canadian Tire app is within 100 metres of a Canadian Tire store, they will receive a Google Now alert with the flyer and other information about the store.

Though Google and Canadian Tire qualified it as a beta test, this timely location-based marketing is a holy grail for retailers.

“We as an organization need to get much better at that because the customer is evolving so quickly,” Flood says.

Looking at all the technology and features they’ve rolled out, it’s safe to say that Canadian Tire is more than keeping up.

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