March 19, 2008, 12:00 AM

The Container Store is no longer self-contained in the U.S.

The Container Store is now shipping items from its online store to Canada. The company’s web developers built an addition to the shopping cart which allows Canadian shoppers to complete a transaction using Canadian dollars.

The Container Store Inc. is no longer self-contained in the U.S.

Since December, The Container Store, No. 288 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has been shipping items from its online store to Canada.

Rather than build a separate web site, the company’s web developers built an addition to the shopping cart that allows Canadian shoppers to complete a transaction using Canadian dollars.

All orders to Canada are shipped from The Container Store’s fulfillment center near Dallas to a facility operated by Canada Post Borderfree in Michigan. That facility clears the packages through customs and makes the final delivery to Canadian shoppers. “Prices, duties, taxes and shipping fees are also viewable in Canadian dollars for customers who select this check-out option on our web site,” says a Container Store spokeswoman.

In the U.S. shoppers have the option of buying online and returning any unwanted merchandise to the store for an exchange or a refund. But in Canada where The Container Store doesn’t operate any bricks-and-mortar locations, shoppers must use a pre-printed return label and ship the merchandise.

The Container Store isn’t disclosing much about its online expansion into Canada, but the company is promoting its web site in a series of direct mail pieces to Canadian shoppers, a spokeswoman says.

The Container Store joins a growing number of U.S. online retailers, including Blue Nile, Tiffany & Co., L.L. Bean Inc. and Crutchfield Corp., expanding into Canada. Canadian e-commerce spending will grow at an annual rate of 27.6% through 2011, when it will amount to C$37.2 billion (US$30.2 billion), eMarketer projects. U.S. e-retailers should benefit from that growth, because about one-third of Canadian online purchases are made at foreign sites, most of them in the United States.

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