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Global Ecommerce

Falling in love with French ecommerce?

By Georges Berzgal, VP & Managing Director, Global Ecommerce, EMEA, Pitney Bowes

Are you a British retailer looking to crack the French ecommerce market? We offer expert advice to ensure success.

France is currently the fifth largest ecommerce market in the world, with a massive 87% (47m) of the population connected to the internet, and 67% (36m) considering themselves to be active online shoppers. Furthermore, these numbers are continuing to grow quickly. In 2016, the number of active online shops increased 12% year-on-year and there are now over 200,000 retail sites in the country. In terms of the revenue this generates, around £63bn was spent on all e-commerce in 2016, and this is expected to exceed around £70bn by the end of 2017. 

Clothing has the largest ecommerce market share, representing a value of around £4.8bn in 2016. Smartphone users in France are on the up as well, which means more flexible and convenient browsing and purchasing, leading to further online retail sales growth. That’s one of the reasons why, by the end of 2017, an estimated 43 million people will be using smartphones in the region. Given that mobile ecommerce is an increasingly popular choice for French consumers, successful cross-border retailers must ensure their sites are responsive or mobile-enabled.

French online shoppers predominantly like to pay for goods with credit cards, with provider Carte Bancaire ranking as one of the most popular options. Carte Bancaire offers debit cards that can also be used as a credit card for online purchases, meaning users can buy more expensive items and pay them back incrementally through the provider’s financial services. PayPal is another widely popular online payment method in France, with more than eight million active accounts countrywide. This makes France the third highest European user of the platform. Great news for e-retailers, as PayPal allows a secure and unified multi-platform method of payment for businesses and consumers. While less popular than Carte Bancaire and PayPal, other options include Allopass, CM-CIC Paiement, Hipay, Moneo, Paysafecard and bank transfers.

A recent study found that French consumers are more open to new delivery methods than consumers from the U.K. Research found that 58% of French consumers would allow couriers temporary access to their homes to let them deliver parcels. Whereas, in the UK, only 36% of consumers would do this. While French consumers are comparatively more trusting of couriers than in other markets, they are careful to select their online retailer to ensure they are not susceptible to fraud.

An encouraging development for French online shoppers is postal service company, La Poste’s, announcement that it will soon send parcels to customers on Sundays. The postal service will do this via its subsidiary Chronopost and will allow consumers to receive goods when they are at home over the weekend, as U.K. shoppers have been enjoying for a while now. French consumers will likely be awaiting Sunday deliveries with much excitement, but in the same study, it was found that 56% of online shoppers actually most value free delivery when making online purchases. This is an easy route to make your customers spend more, by offering complementary delivery if the purchase over a certain amount.

Furthermore, 72% of French consumers prefer to collect their orders from a local shop, as this enables them to pick up their products in their own time and not have to worry about delivery time slot. This is a key part of the online purchasing process that cross-border retailers should be equipped for with their delivery strategy. Flexibility is king, and with a myriad of online retail options, those that do not offer a wide breadth of delivery options will suffer at the hands of those that do.

For U.K. retailers looking to expand into France, the demand is there. Insofar as the major markets that the French buy from outside of their own market, the U.K. ranks as one of the top three foreign markets, alongside Germany and the U.S.  Some research indicate that cross-border demand from the U.K. represents more than a quarter of France’s online retail sales, and with the right offering, the opportunity for British vendors is sizeable. If British retailers can meet these demands – then they will be likely to reap the rewards. Pitney Bowes provides the services and solutions to ensure safe and efficient entry into international marketplaces, so that retailers can broach whichever markets they desire, without the worries of managing the practicalities.

Learn about Complete™ Cross-Border from Pitney Bowes, the scalable end-to-end global ecommerce solution that can handle all facets of enterprise retail cross-border expansion. 

Read more about the global ecommerce landscape from both the retailer and consumer perspective by downloading the Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Report, the first report to comprehensively analyse these two perspectives.

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