The growth of ecommerce in France


Marine Granger


Average online sales increased globally from 15 to 20% in 2012 with the French market definitely one country that is following this trend. The first trimester of 2013 has seen a 14% increase in online purchases in France. The French have spent €12.1bn during this time on one of the 120,000 active French commercial websites.

Every country has its own culture that influences the way people think and behave, and it’s clear that the French have a different attitude from the British regarding online purchases: 28% of French people make online purchases against 39% in the UK.

Who is buying online in France and how?

Consumers, actively making purchases online are slightly different in France than in Great Britain. More males are buying online in both countries, however there is a generation difference. In Great Britain more people under 40 are willing to spend money online. Surprisingly, this is not the case in France where 29% of people over 40 are buying online against 27% for the under 40s. The preferred payment methods in France are credit cards and Paypal.

Which medium are the French choosing to make online purchases?

Smartphones and tablets are increasingly popular in France and are owned by 11 and 38% of the population respectively, with this trend set to continue to rise as we can see in the graph. Some French ecommerce websites have seen their sales via these channels more than double in the past 12 months.

What do French consumers buy online?

Although it’s possible to buy almost everything online not everyone in France is fully comfortable purchasing through this method. Customers who only buy from shops argue that they prefer to see the product in person.

Some services obviously cannot provide this experience, which could explain why the e-tourism industry is the sector generating the most sales online. In fact, in 2012 56% of French internet users bought something related to this industry (plane tickets, travelling books, etc), while 68% of people who purchased leisure flights in France used a search engine for research before making the purchase, which can explain the 7% increase of the sales in the market last year.

How French consumers behave when they purchase online?

The internet is incredibly vast and the offers available online reflect this. This has sparked a competitive war which allows people to find products and services at a better price; discount websites and reductions codes are growing. However, excluding this kind of research, when French people are performing a purchase-based research, 70% of them expect the leading page to be on top of the search result pages. This would suggest that it’s still important to take care of your off-page and on-page SEO.

Multichannelling is also growing in popularity in France with 20% of consumers professing to shopping this way.


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