Why you Should be Thinking About the French Ecommerce Market


Léa Costantini


France has the second largest online population in the EU, with ecommerce in the country constantly on the rise. Last year ecommerce rose by 13.5% compared to 2012, which translates into 600 million more transactions compared to those from the previous year. However, the average basket price fell from 87.5 to 84.5 euros.

French ecommerce in 2013

Overall the data provided is showing a growing trend for ecommerce, signalling the importance of online marketing in France. The growing trend is most definitely underlining the opportunity for businesses to develop in this market when considering expansion abroad.

Why people buy and where from

The top three French ecommerce sites in terms of visits are Amazon, Cdiscount and FNAC, while the most popular products and services bought online are in the tourism sector.

The main reasons people buy online in descending order are:

  • Appealing prices
  • Fast delivery
  • Habit
  • Availability of the products
  • Trust of the organisation

Mobile and PPC

Online sales have a rosy future in France, with sales via smartphone, tablets and apps BOOMING (+120%)! Likewise PPC is also on the up with 4% more online adverts in the last year.

Online adverts in the French market / Real-time bidding by country in 2013 (%)

Online adverts in the UK


In the French market, online advertising revenue mainly comes from Google search.

In 2013, Google search represented 58% of online advertising.

However, real-time bidding is gaining prominence, growing by 125% a year and now accounts for 16% of total advertising revenues (this is just 14% in the UK and 12% in Germany), which is a total of 117 million euros in 2013. Strong growth is forecast for 2014.

real-time bidding in 2013


When it comes to delivery 82% of online buyers prefer their orders to be delivered directly to their home.

And when asked: For what reason did you choose to buy on this website? 39% said because the prices were the most appealing, 32% because of the speed of the delivery, and for 31% it was a question of habit.



Language and cultural differences


There are 220 million French-speaking people around the world – how can you interact with them if your website is only in English?

All the information you provide about your products or services has to be in FRENCH. Not a mix of Fran-glish. Your website (and if possible also the URL) should be in French. The .fr domain is also much more appreciated.

It is also very important to give the user the impression that the website has been created by a French native speaker. Absolutely avoid spelling mistakes and unnatural sounding sentences.

Translating your website from French into English is not enough. Make sure to take into consideration cultural differences.

Adapt your marketing material to the French market. Stay away from Google Translate and other free online translation tools as it can result in big mistranslations and/or complete nonsense. The best way to start off would be to ask advice from a native French marketer. Nobody but a language expert can point you in the right direction.

Being aware of some of the cultural differences is also an advantage. Little things such as using the right price symbol (â not â) can make a big difference. Measuring units are different in France, too. Miles, inches, feet, pounds have to be replaced by the equivalent in French.

Paying great attention to this would prove to be fruitful and will improve your chance of success.

And if you’re still not convinced, a recent survey has found that French could be the world’s most spoken language by 2050. So people, dust off those French text books from school!