Bonjour, e-commerce enthusiasts! You've come to the right place if you're looking to expand your business to France and tap into its growing e-commerce market. In this blog post, we will confidently explore the ten keys to a successful e-commerce launch in France and capitalize on the thriving online shopping market in one of Europe's largest economies.

France is a unique and lucrative market for e-commerce businesses. According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, France's e-commerce market is projected to grow from USD 125.66 billion in 2020 to USD 215.88 billion in 2028, with a CAGR of 7.4% during the forecast period 2023-2028. This makes France an attractive market for online retailers looking to expand their reach and tap into a new customer base.

With that in mind, let's explore the 10 keys to launching your e-commerce business in France and capturing a share of this lucrative market.

1. Know your French consumers

Before launching your e-commerce business in France, it's essential to understand the French consumer behavior.

  • Recent statistics show that in 2022, there were over 50 million e-commerce users in France, which ranks third after Germany and the United Kingdom. (source: Statista)
  • In the fashion and apparel industry, there has been a shift towards online shopping in France in 2021. Among those aged 18-24, 57% intend to buy clothing online, while 54% of those aged 25-34 also plan to do so. In contrast, only 32% of those aged 65 and over indicated an intention to purchase apparel online.
  • Moreover, most French shoppers (64%) compare prices online across retailers, and over one-third of shoppers use their mobile phones in brick-and-mortar stores. French shoppers increasingly adopt an omnichannel approach, utilising online and mobile resources to compare prices and make purchases.
  • Finally, a growing trend of "re-commerce" in France refers to buying and selling second-hand products online. This trend is reportedly on the rise and constitutes a significant source of income for sellers, averaging €67 per month.

2. Research the competition

According to Statista, the e-commerce market in France is highly competitive, with over 200,000 e-commerce websites in 2020. Identify your competitors in the French e-commerce market and analyse their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you differentiate yourself and offer unique value to your customers.

It's hard to say precisely how many e-commerce websites were live in France in 2022.

According to the Baromètre des DNVB from the Digital Native Club, they were 592 DNVB in France in 2021.

Moreover, reports showed that in 2022, 2.3 billion transactions were completed on retail internet websites in France, representing an increase of 6.5% from the previous year.

In 2021, an increasing number of brands have been adopting an omnichannel approach:

  • 48% of digitally native vertical brands (DNVBs) were incorporating retail sales
  • 49% of DNVBs were selling their products on marketplaces
  • 56% of DNVBs were engaging in wholesale selling.

3. Choose the right products

According to Statista, Fashion was the leading e-commerce category in France as of January 2022, purchased by nearly 60% of online shoppers. Cultural products ranked second, with 47% of online shoppers purchasing them.

However, Eworldtrade lists the top-selling products in France online in 2022:

  1. Consumer goods,
  2. Clothing,
  3. Food and beverages,
  4. Home electronics,
  5. Sports equipment,
  6. Books,
  7. Beauty and personal care,
  8. Toys,
  9. Hair care products
  10. Sports and fitness.

Finally, a study from Statista shows the share of online sales per product category in France, with electronics and media being the most significant product category for online sales in 2022, followed by fashion and beauty.

4. Optimise your website on mobile

If you plan to launch your e-commerce business in France, prioritise mobile optimisation as a key part of your strategy.

  • 53.3% of French buyers (22.3 million) purchased from mobile devices in 2022. That's according to a recent study, which also found that 46% of e-buyers use multiple screens when shopping online, with mobile devices being their preferred choice. This trend towards mobile-first shopping means having a mobile-optimised website is crucial for adapting to the French market and pleasing Google's search algorithm.
  • According to a report by Insider Intelligence, mobile commerce (m-commerce) sales are expected to account for 43.4% of total retail e-commerce sales in 2023 in France, up from 41.8% in 2022. This suggests that many e-commerce transactions in France will be made through mobile devices in the coming years.
  • A mobile-first strategy can give you a significant advantage in SEO, as Google has emphasised mobile-friendliness in recent years.

Optimising your e-commerce website for mobile devices can improve the user experience for your customers, increase your site's ranking on search engine results pages, and make it easier for French consumers to find your products online.

5. Optimise for French SEO

According to a study by the European Commission, 90% of internet users in Europe prefer to visit websites in their native language, while 42% never purchase products and services in a foreign language.

According to a study by SEMrush, 43% of searches on Google France are local searches. Local SEO is essential for ranking higher in French search results.

SEO optimisation is essential to deliver french customers a memorable user experience. Choose local keywords for your website and build local citations and backlinks.

6. Offer flexible payment options

As an e-commerce business owner looking to expand your reach in France, it's essential to understand the buying preferences of French consumers.

  • In 2021, the most popular payment method for online shopping in France was credit or debit card, with almost 60% of French respondents stating a preference.
  • One payment type gaining popularity among French shoppers is split payments, which allows them to make a significant online purchase by splitting the payment into smaller, more manageable amounts. In fact, dividend payments are becoming increasingly essential for French consumers, particularly in the travel market. According to recent statistics, split payments account for between 60 and 80% of purchases in this sector, highlighting just how important this payment method has become.
  • On the other hand, buy now pay later payments are expected to experience impressive growth in France, with an annual increase of 20.1% projected to bring the total value to US$11,583.2 million by 2023. By offering BNPL as a payment option, you can tap into this trend and give French consumers the flexibility and convenience they crave when shopping online.

7. Provide excellent customer service

83% of customers consider good customer service as their most important criterion for deciding what to buy, not including logistical considerations such as products and prices offered.

In 2022, a study showed that 91% of French people contacted customer service in the last 12 months, primarily through email (84%) and phone (74%). This is a 13-point increase from 2021, with an average of 2.6 requests made in 2022 compared to 1.6 in 2021. Additionally, 3 out of 10 French people (32%) now use social media to contact customer service.

64% of French people report talking about their experience, mostly with their close circle (59%), with only 5% sharing on social media.

French consumers value high-quality customer service. Ensure you have a great customer service team in place and prioritise customer satisfaction.

8. Build brand awareness

Building brand awareness is critical to launching a successful e-commerce business in France. It involves increasing your brand's recognition and visibility among your target audience. Here are some effective strategies to build brand awareness:

  • Leverage digital media: Forbes reports that digital media strategies are among the top methods for enhancing brand awareness in 2023. Digital media allows you to reach a wider audience through social media, search engines, email, and display advertising. By crafting a compelling digital media strategy, you can create engaging content that resonates with your target audience and helps increase your brand's visibility.
  • Develop a brand awareness campaign: A brand awareness campaign familiarises consumers with your product or service. According to Attest, a marketer's guide to brand awareness campaigns involves defining your brand message and targeting the right audience. With the right messaging and targeting, you can raise brand awareness and help consumers understand what sets you apart from your competitors.
  • Use multiple marketing tactics: There are various digital marketing tactics to increase brand visibility and awareness, such as influencer marketing, brand advertising, SEO, content marketing, social media, and brand partnerships. Using multiple tactics to measure brand awareness will give you a more well-rounded picture of how your brand resonates with consumers. By tracking brand awareness through various methods, you can gauge which tactics work best for your brand and adjust your strategy accordingly.
  • Measure your brand awareness: It's essential to track your brand's awareness to see how well your marketing efforts are working. Use surveys, website analytics, and social media metrics to measure your brand's reach, engagement, and sentiment. This data will help you understand how consumers perceive your brand and identify areas for improvement.

9. Localise your marketing campaigns

When advertising to French consumers, brands should consider localising their ads. Localisation involves adapting a product or service to meet a particular country or region's language, culture, and other specific requirements. Here are some reasons why e-commerce brands should prioritise localisation when targeting French consumers:

  1. Cultural differences: When designing an advertising campaign for French consumers, it's important to consider their unique cultural preferences and values. For example, advertising in France often incorporates humour and irony and appeals to emotions rather than reason.
  2. Language barriers: While many French people speak English, it is still essential to translate ads into French to ensure that they resonate with the local audience. Brands that fail to do so risk being seen as disrespectful or indifferent to French culture.
  3. Increased engagement: Localised ads are more likely to resonate with French consumers, as they are designed to meet their specific needs and preferences.
  4. Higher revenues: studies have shown that localisation can lead to higher revenues for multinational enterprises. By localising their products, services, and marketing campaigns, brands can tap into new markets and increase sales.

Brands have many compelling reasons to prioritise localisation when targeting French consumers. By considering cultural differences, language barriers, and other specific requirements, brands can increase engagement, build customer loyalty, and drive revenue growth.

10. Monitor and analyse your performance

In France, the average conversion rate for e-commerce websites is 1.10%, which is relatively low compared to other countries. For example, Germany has a conversion rate of 2.22%.

To succeed in e-commerce in France, it is important to track your performance. You can measure success by monitoring the number of website visitors, purchases, and revenue. Utilise tools to better understand your data and make informed decisions that will help you sell more in France. Continuously monitor your metrics and use what you learn to improve and increase sales even further.

In conclusion, launching an e-commerce business in France can be a lucrative opportunity if done correctly. By understanding the French consumer, researching the competition, selecting the right products, optimising your website and marketing, and monitoring your performance, you can successfully launch your e-commerce business in France and tap into the growing market. Remember to remain adaptable and adjust your strategy as you navigate the market to ensure continued success.