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E-commerce in France - statistics & facts

E-commerce first appeared in France in the 1980s, but truly made its mark in the late 1990s with the development of online payments and the rise of internet access in homes. Thirty years later, owning the most powerful e-commerce brand on the market, Jeff Bezos had become the leader of online product delivery. With busy schedules and a need for more convenience, many households have turned to online shopping as an addition to traditional shopping, contributing to over 100 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2019.

Some of the most popular online shopping categories in France include fashion, cultural goods and electronics. When assessing shopping behavior and especially the preferred sites to shop on, Amazon was by far the most visited marketplace generalist, with around 184 million monthly visits in 2019. However, even as the virtual shopping experience is rapidly developing, physical stores still hold a traditional soft spot in French consumer hearts.

With a rise in mobile phone usage and a 35 percent market share of the total e-commerce turnover in 2018, it is clear that mobility allows shopping comfortably from home. A tendency to combine multiple platforms made the omni-channel shopping experience more popular. In fact, the platform preference might be connected to the type of products bought on each channel. In 2019, travel and software were usually bought online, whereas food or hygiene products where bought in person. This goes hand in hand with a survey conducted in 2019 on good reasons to buy online, where most respondents stated that online products often had cheaper prices. In terms of expenditure, French digital buyers spend 60 euros per online purchase on average, most of them shopping at online marketplaces.

In terms of payment methods, while payment through social media was still used rarely in 2018, a year later, around 60 percent of respondents throughout various age groups preferred credit card payments for their online purchases. After paying for a product by various methods, the parcel would be on its way and reach a multitude of French destinations. Most French consumers like to have their parcels delivered straight to their home (and ideally in less than five days), as opposed to pick-up stations. Apart from domestic deliveries, French sellers can also go international. Many close buyers such as Belgium would shop on French platforms and in 2018, half of the French themselves had bought products from non-french sellers, reinforcing the international quality of e-commerce.

With a shift in societal values like environmental awareness and preservation, the e-commerce business model has broadened, giving space to collaborative consumption platforms. In fact, e-commerce platforms such as eBay, the pioneer of online auctions between private sellers, or even Vinted.fr, a new player in the field and growing very rapidly, gave consumers the opportunity to re-use and recycle products (especially in fashion). Other types of collaborative consumption such as booking holiday accomodation on Airbnb or carpooling apps have already assessed themselves in the vast pool of online services.

In the beginning of 2020, the e-commerce business played a crucial role for personal consumption. With the confinement period due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, many people relied on home deliveries. The biggest winner of the crisis remained Amazon, with its online market share skyrocketing in a very short time.

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E-commerce in France

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Most popular e-commerce platforms

E-shopper behavior

Mobile commerce

Collaborative consumption

COVID-19 effects on the e-commerce industry

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