The French online payment market

The French e-commerce market comprises 49 million online shoppers and is worth US$150 bn

Countries France

Intro France

In France, e-commerce is a popular and widely used shopping channel, accounting for 15% of all retail sales [1]. As long as your business model is sound, and you are willing to invest in localisation, the French market is attractive, lucrative and — particularly given the digital-economy reforms of the last few years — open to business.

The IMF reports inflation in France of just over 4% [2], just over half of the headline rate for the eurozone as a whole [3]. In 2021, the French economy grew by 7% [2]. In 2022, the IMF expects growth to slow to 2.9%, falling to 1.4% in the following year [2]. According to the OECD, the most important factor driving last year’s growth was domestic consumer demand [4]. Between the beginning of 2022 and April, French consumer confidence fell from 99 points, just in the realm of negative sentiment, to 88 points [5]. Like everyone else, the French have observed the state of global politics and the economy and decided that now is the time for caution.

France’s e-commerce market

In France, e-commerce was worth $US 147 billion in 2021 [1]. By 2026, this figure is expected to be $US 222 billion [1]. The average French e-commerce consumer spends $US 2,174 with online merchants [1]. The most popular e-commerce segments in France are Fashion (29%), Toys, Hobby & DIY (21%) and Electronics & Media (20%) [1].

In 2021, French e-commerce sites totalled more than 2.1 billion individual transactions, a 16% increase on the previous year [6]. Cross-border purchases are already 16% of total French e-commerce [1]. We expect this proportion to increase in the coming years. The most popular countries from which French consumers shop online are China (46%), Germany (16%) and the UK (8%) [1]. Again, this may well change given Brexit and recent international supply-chain problems. Watch this space.

There are almost 49 million active online shoppers in France [7]. Most French e-commerce users (85%) want items they order online delivered to their homes [8]. Just 28% want to collect in store [8]. The top French online merchant is Amazon, with a turnover of $US 6.5 million at the last count [7]. Impressive as this is, it’s only a 4% market share, leaving plenty of room for other merchants and for newcomers.

Payment methods in France

France often positions its way of doing things as an alternative to the American model. But the mix of payment methods in France is so heavily dominated by credit and debit cards that it looks positively American. French consumers use cards in 52% of all online transactions [1]. Over 70% of cards in France are issued by local schemes [1]. Visa has just a 13% market share and Mastercard only 10% [1]. American Express weighs in at a mere 3% market share [1].

But that doesn’t mean that the French don’t use alternative payment methods. Consumers use e-wallets in 25% of all online purchases, bank transfers in 11% and cash in 2% [1]. The French use other alternative payment methods in 10% of payments [1]. In total, French online shoppers use payment alternatives to buy approximately $US 70 billion worth of online purchases [1]. That’s almost the value of the entire Spanish e-commerce market [1].

Enabling and limiting factors in French e-commerce

96% of French adults have a bank account and 43% have a credit card [1]. Under French law, everyone has a right to a bank account. If someone is unable to get an account because a bank has refused to open one, that person needs only to notify Banque de France. The central bank will then designate a bank within 24 hours and that bank will be obliged to provide a bank account, with at least basic services, free of charge [9].

France ranks 16 (out of 160 countries) in the World Bank’s LPI index, which measures the quality of carrier services and other elements of a country’s logistical capabilities [10]. To support the growth of e-commerce, postal service La Poste recently opened a new sorting hub, the largest in France, in Ile-de-France [11].

Internet penetration in France is 92% [1]. 79% of French consumers have an Internet-enabled smartphone [1]. In 2021, the French parliament passed a law requiring makers of mobile devices to tell customers how repairable those devices are [12]. The goal is to divert custom to devices which are easier to repair and, in the long run, to encourage consumers to repair rather than buy. Whether this will have any impact on the smartphone or m-commerce markets remains to be seen.

Footnotes:

  1. Original PPRO research
  2. https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/FRA
  3. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Inflation_in_the_euro_area
  4. https://www.oecd.org/economy/france-economic-snapshot
  5. https://www.economy.com/france/consumer-confidence
  6. https://ecommerce-europe.eu/news-item/e-commerce-in-france-in-2021-french-people-spent-129-billion-euros-online
  7. https://www.statista.com/topics/6488/e-commerce-in-france/#dossierKeyfigures
  8. https://ecommercenews.eu/ecommerce-in-france-will-reach-115-2-billion-euros-in-2020
  9. https://www.banque-france.fr/en/intervention/financial-inclusion-digital-age-how-make-difference
  10. https://lpi.worldbank.org
  11. https://www.groupelaposte.com/en/news/la-poste-opens-its-largest-colissimo-hub-in-ile-de-france
  12. https://grist.org/climate/why-frances-new-repairability-index-is-a-big-deal

Page index

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Quick facts

Many French consumers don’t see themselves returning to their pre-Covid ways of shopping with 23 % saying they expect to visit bricks-and-mortar stores less, while 27 % said that they would spend less time in the physical store.

France has surprised the economists by reporting a 0.5% increase in their GDP in July 2022 instead of the 0.2% forecast. The French finance minister believes that France will meet its forecast of 2.5% GDP growth for the year.

With French inflation reaching 6.5% in July 2022, the French government has voted in a EUR 20 bn package to help households cope with rising food and energy prices.

Amazon.fr was the most popular French e-commerce site in May 2022 with 166.8 m visits.

General Information

  • Population 67.4 m
  • Population 15 + 55.6 m
  • Online Population 62.2 m
  • Area 643,801 km2
  • Currency EUR
  • GDP 2,940.4 bn USD
  • GDP per Capita 43,620 USD

Payment types

  • Card-based payments
  • Cash-based payments
  • Bank transfer
  • Wallets
  • Other
[{"label":"Card-based payments","value":"52"},{"label":"Cash-based payments","value":"2"},{"label":"Bank transfer","value":"11"},{"label":"Wallets","value":"25"},{"label":"Other","value":"10"}]

Banked population
  • France 96%
  • Western & Central Europe 94%
  • World 67%
Credit card penetration
  • France 43%
  • Western & Central Europe 46%
  • World 19%
Internet penetration
  • France 92%
  • Western & Central Europe 91%
  • World 62%
Smartphone penetration
  • France 79%
  • Western & Central Europe 75%
  • World 70%

The E-Commerce Market

Top e-commerce segments

  1. Fashion: 29%
  2. Toys, Hobby & DIY: 21%
  3. Electronics & Media: 20%
  4. Furniture & Appliances: 16%
  5. Food & Personal Care: 14%

Cross-border e-commerce

  1. Cross-border proportion of total e-commerce – 16%
  2. Value of cross-border e-commerce – 24.2 bn USD
  3. Online shoppers who have shopped cross-border – 66%

Top 3 cross-border shopping origin markets

  1. China: 46%
  2. Germany: 16%
  3. UK: 8%
B2C E-commerce Growth 2020->2021
  • France 15.2%
E-commerce % of total retail
  • France 15%
  • Western & Central Europe 17.6%
  • World 20%
E-commerce completed on a mobile device
  • France 39%
  • Western & Central Europe 43%
  • World 53%

E-Commerce Trends

  • E-commerce market size 146.8 bn USD
  • E-Commerce spending per capita 2,174 USD
  • E-commerce spending as % of GDP 5.2%

The Credit Card Split

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Local schemes
[{"label":"Visa","value":"13"},{"label":"Mastercard","value":"10"},{"label":"American Express","value":"3"},{"label":"Local schemes","value":"74"}]

The information on our Insights pages has been compiled by us in cooperation with Datamatics and Wright & Brown. The data shown is partially owned by us and partially owned by GlobalData. © 2021 by PPRO Financial Ltd. No data and information can be used for any further publication without the explicit approval of PPRO.

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