E-commerce in France: more than 80 billion euros in sales in 2017

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On February 6th, the FEVAD (the French e-commerce association) held a press conference to discuss last year’s e-commerce results. They spoke about all things online retail from the latest trends, to French shopper behaviour, and the strategies that e-commerce companies are adopting. Read on to find out why selling in France is a good idea.

Online retail in France passed the 80 billion euro mark in 2017 (a 14% rise on last year). The reason for this? A record fourth quarter that was boosted by end of year promotions (both Christmas and Black Friday), allowing a quarterly rise of 17.5% compared to 2016.

Continued growth for e-commerce over the last 3 years

According to Médiamétrie’s Centre for Internet Use, there are now over 37 million online shoppers in France. 65% of online shoppers also buy online at least once a month meaning that the amount of online transactions also went up by 20.5% in 2017. This represents a total of 1.2 billion orders made in the last 12 months, mainly in the fashion sector.

While the average spent per order fell to 65.50 € in 2017, orders themselves kept increasing, with a 19% rise in order frequency.

Furthermore, shoppers continue to visit marketplaces according to the FEVAD’s iPM (indice place de marché) index. It showed that the volume of sales carried out on marketplaces increased by 15% since 2016. Finally, nearly 60% of online shoppers in France bought products on foreign e-commerce sites in 2017, mainly in the fashion and home appliance sectors. While 44% stayed within EU borders to make their purchases, 34% of shoppers ordered from further afield (with 75% of these purchases coming from China).

Whether in search of security, service or recommendations, 38% of shoppers use instant messaging to contact a company’s customer service, and 70% consult customer reviews before going through with a purchase.*

While delivery to either work or home is prioritised by 88% of shoppers, 72% are most interested in delivery straight to their homes. Delivery to a collecting point, click and collect and e-reservation follow with 86%, 38% and 24% of shoppers, respectively, adopting these methods.

Mobile, a driver in e-commerce

improvement in 2017. According to the Fevad/CSA Barometer, 61% of mobile users use this channel to follow up on their orders online, 57% use it for product/service research and 52% to research or find a store.

In a study titled ‘Online shoppers and mobile’, Marc Lolivier, Executive Director at FEVAD, points out that ‘mobile is a fantastic tool for growth for online retail. Whether it’s at home, at work, on public transport or in public places, […] more and more French people are ordering from their mobiles. […] With readily accessible 4G and the development of better adapted websites and apps, mobile sales should continue to grow in the years to come.’

Voice is also catching up with text search given that 1 out of every 2 French people claim to have done a voice search from their mobiles, of which 29% were searches for products/service and 15% for purchasing something online.

To read > 10 things to know about voice search

Ecommerce: a tool for growth for 50% of businesses

Increasing by 10% in 2017, retailer sites continue to inundate the French e-commerce landscape. Indeed, according to an Oxatis report called ‘2018 Online retailer Profile’, online retail was a tool for growth for 1 out of 2 businesses last year. Furthermore, 65% of French online retailers saw their online activity impact their physical business (whether it be an increase in visitors and turnover, an enlarged catchment area, and more).

80% are making enriching their product catalogue a priority for 2018, and 45% want to tackle going international.

The same problems face retailers who want to increase cross-border sales, however, including increased shipping costs, translation of your site, marketing, logistics and legal regulations. However, none of these should be dissuade you from selling in a maturing market like France, with a strong e-commerce mentality already in place.

According to the FEVAD, French e-commerce should continue to grow in 2018 to get to 90 billion euros by the end of the year. They even estimate that the 100 billion euro mark could be breached by the end of 2019.

*FEVAD/CSA survey carried out between December 26th 2017 and January 2nd 2018 with a group of 1002 French online shoppers.

*Study carried out between the 11th and 16th of January with 1000 internet users.

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Elizabeth Norton