In France, e-commerce is a popular and widely used shopping channel, accounting for 13% of all retail sales . 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% , just over half of the headline rate for the eurozone as a whole . In 2021, the French economy grew by 7% . In 2022, the IMF expects growth to slow to 2.9%, falling to 1.4% in the following year . According to the OECD, the most important factor driving last year’s growth was domestic consumer demand . Between the beginning of 2022 and April, French consumer confidence fell from 99 points, just in the realm of negative sentiment, to 88 points . 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$150 billion in 2021 . By 2025, this figure is expected to be US$211 billion . Today, the average French e-commerce consumer spends US$2,219 with online merchants . The most popular e-commerce segments in France are homeware (13%), travel (12%) and electrical goods (11%) %) .
In 2021, French e-commerce sites totalled more than 2.1 billion individual transactions, a 16% increase on the previous year . Cross-border purchases are already 15% of total French e-commerce . We expect this proportion to increase in the coming years. The most popular countries from which French consumers shop online are China (44%), the UK (13%) and Germany (13%) . 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 . Most French e-commerce users (85%) want items they order online delivered to their homes . Just 28% want to collect in store . The top French online merchant is Amazon, with a turnover of US$6.5 million at the last count . 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 53% of all online transactions . Over 90% of cards in France are issued by local schemes . Visa has just a 5% market share and Mastercard only 3% . American Express weighs in at a mere 1% market share .
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 9% and cash in 3% . The French use other alternative payment methods in 10% of payments . In total, French online shoppers use payment alternatives to buy approximately US$70 billion worth of online purchases . That’s more than the value of the entire Spanish e-commerce market .
Enabling and limiting factors in French e-commerce
94% of French adults have a bank account and 41% have a credit card . 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 .
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 . 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 .
Internet penetration in France is 91% . 80% of French consumers have an Internet-enabled smartphone . In 2021, the French parliament passed a law requiring makers of mobile devices to tell customers how repairable those devices are . 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.
- Original PPRO research