A new report by business directory Yellow Pages has found that small businesses in Canada are struggling to keep up with those in other countries when it comes to their digital presence.

Cities as Warehouses: The Survival of Main Street Retail in a Digital World describes Canada’s retail market as being extremely competitive and notes that Canadian consumers are very internet-savvy, but found that small businesses on city main streets in cities often do not have a digital presence, thus missing out on potential customers.

“Canada has become a digital nation, but main street retail in this country has not followed suit,” reads the report. “Customers are increasingly just a short step of fast click away from going elsewhere with their purchasing dollars, and in many cases, their social media recommendations.”

Prior to the rise of the internet, retail businesses were built on relationships forged with local customers. However, the advent of the internet means consumers are no longer limited by geography, which means retailers need to make their products available to the 97 percent of Canadians that have digital devices and are less likely to shop at a bricks-and-mortar store.

The Canadian marketplace has changed a lot due to the dominance of leading e-commerce companies such as Alibaba and Amazon, which almost half of retailers feel they are competing against. Large retail stores like Walmart, which use complex pricing algorithms and have huge inventories, are also putting pressure on smaller retail businesses.

With consumers more likely to look for bargains online in the frugal climate brought about by the financial crisis of 2007-2008, retailers need get customers to return on a regular basis, bring products to them quickly, price those products competitively and engage existing customers creatively if they are to succeed online, according to Yellow Pages.

The report also states that consumers are more likely to shop locally if they are given the incentive to, and that a digital hub that unites local businesses and uses geolocation may enable smaller retailers to compete with ecommerce giants.

The Yellow Pages report highlights the opportunities that exist for small business owners who are willing to innovate in order to make their venture a success. Aspiring entrepreneurs can boost their chances of succeeding on the University Canada West (UCW) Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

The UCW MBA program develops student entrepreneurship into graduate employability, providing business education, corporate training and executive education that leads to productive and prosperous careers that will drive the economy.