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E-Commerce France: A Research About the French Market

France is the world’s most visited country. In 2012, 83 million tourists came to France to see the significant Eiffel Tower in Paris which was originally a Roman city called ‘Lutetia’, the beautiful ‘Haussmannien’ style buildings, Seine River and famous French Rivieras where Cannes Film Festival takes place and, of course to drink delicious French wine and taste the famous dishes of the ‘Hexagon’. This magnificent country has been the muse of many artists such as; Albert Camus, Cézanne, Matisse, Monet, Jean –Luc Godard, Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Marcel Duchamp, Victor Hugo, Marion Cotillard, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, François Ozon, and François Truffaut.

Paris Eiffel Tower

France is a member of the G8, World Trade Organization (WTO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (COI). It is an associate member of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and a leading member of the International Francophone Organisation (OIF) of fifty-one fully or partly French-speaking countries. But it is an undeniable truth that France is the astounding member of the fashion society.

France’s Economy

Last week, Eurozone’s second biggest economy, France’s inflation turned negative for the first time since 2009. The French National Statistics Agency said that the prices declined %0.4 in January compared to the same month last year. The agency also explained that the decline in consumer prices is a result of a %1.4 drop in the cost of manufactured goods. Particularly, due to the winter sales and a % 7.1 drop in energy prices related to the decline in oil prices. Despite all the news about France’s negative inflation from last week, let’s have a look at France’s up-and-coming e-commerce potential by numbers of 2014:

  • GDP is over $2.9 billion,
  • A growth of %0.3 has been accomplished in the economy,
  • Internet Penetration Rate: %83
  • France is the 10th country in the world in internet usage and 24th in the penetration rate rankings,
  • Internet Users’ number has reached 57.5 million,

The France E-commerce Market has reached a market size of €57.5 from €51.1 million in the last year. France’s turnover has become the third biggest after the United Kingdom and Germany among all the European e-commerce markets. The country has gained an important role in Europe.

FEVAD’s Report

FEVAD, French Association of E-commerce and Distance Selling, is one of the greatest data providers in France about the e-commerce market. According to FEVAD, there are 138.000 active web sites in the e-commerce market. Also, the e-commerce market growth has been %9.1 in 2014. The improvements in the entrepreneurship allow this economy to flourish. Let’s have a look at the results of researches made among these web sites.

The number of B2C e-commerce market size has reached $36.99 billion; furthermore, there are $29.20 million worth B2C e-commerce digital buyers in France. According to Marc Lolivier, Managing Director of FEVAD, B2C e-commerce sales in France are projected to increase to reach almost €70 billion in 2015.

Europe B2B Graph

On the other hand, when we observe B2B actions on FEVAD’s report, it doesn’t seem bright. We realize that only %20 of French companies buy online. France is at the bottom of the list with Greece, Romania, and Portugal. In France, %57 of e-commerce companies work internationally. FEVAD estimates that this number will increase and it will reach to %71 in the forthcoming years.

E-Commerce is also a job-creating business which has high potential in France. There are almost 90.000 people working directly or indirectly in the e-commerce market by the end of 2013. FEVAD’s report predicts that the 138.000 sites which listed by FEVAD itself, could create close to 20.000 jobs this year.

Big Potential in Mobile Apps

Reaching customers through mobile apps is very important for e-commerce companies in France. The mobile applications allow people to shop online and are getting more and more popular every day. It is important for an e-commerce business to engage with its customers, especially if the market is B2C. Many companies today make a big difference in their business with mobile market strategies. French companies will surely be a part of this trend and the numbers of 2014 show that there is a big potential:

Eiffel Tower and Phone
  • Mobile subscriptions: 35.2 million
  • Mobile subscriptions rank: 10th
  • Mobile penetration rate: 2.2%
  • Mobile penetration rank: 27th

Consumer Behavior in France

The French people are active online users. The main function for them is practicality. The customers want to access their needs easily and directly. But an important thing to say is that French people are saving and prefer second-hand products unless they are settled. It is possible to observe their practical needs in the sectors preferred. Top 5 markets for retailing products and services through the internet:

  • Travel/Tourism %62
  • Services (Subscriptions for websites, tickets, photo developers etc.) %54
  • Cultural products %52
  • Textile/Fashion %49
  • Technology products %39

The French demographics and the birth rates show that in the following years the French nation will be older. Since the birth rates are low, the importance of many sectors will change accordingly. The most important sectors will be electronics, communication, and housing. But the media and entertainment, personal care and energy sectors will be stable. The maintenance and repair of the dwellings will see a decline. It is important to take this information into account.

Top 5 Most Visited E-Commerce Websites

Every month, approximately 28.7 million internet users (%61.5), visit at least one of the most visited 15 e-commerce sites. The market has other country’s players as well as the French players. But Amazon’s dominance is, of course, a stable one. The top 5 e-commerce websites can be seen above:

France Most Visited E-Commerce Sites

In France, most preferred payment methods include majorly credit cards. Carte Bleue, a domestic payment option, ranks 1st as an online payment method with Visa. They’re followed by MasterCard, American Express and PayPal. However, the popularity of Carte Bleue is not enough to satisfy the online payment demand.

Last Words

As we have seen from all the numbers above, France has a strong growing potential for the e-commerce market. The market is also flexible for new enterprises since there are plenty of opportunities to start up a business in France. According to the experts of the market, for the acceptance of Carte Bleue, online businesses would need to have local presence or use a certified Payment Gateway licensed to operate on the French market.

Also, the e-commerce market might be a good solution for decrease of unemployment rate in France since the market provides increasing employment opportunities day by day. The rest is up to France.


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