eCommerce in France is a growing market. Here’s how to win over French shoppers on your site and on Rakuten France, the region’s largest online marketplace.
In the past 10 years, France’s annual online spend has grown by 186%, making it the third largest European and sixth largest global eCommerce market.
To take advantage of this trend, you’ll want to make sure you’re meeting – and exceeding – French expectations.
WHAT DO FRENCH CONSUMERS WANT?
1. PRODUCT VALUE AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
While French shoppers don’t necessarily want to be seen bargain hunting, they still do it. Special offers, discounts, and flash sales are appealing to French consumers, so being competitive is important.
But price isn’t everything. French consumers prefer to spend more money on fewer high-quality items than to buy more for less. And 71% of French consumers shop based on their brand loyalties, making France the third most brand-loyal country in the world.
This doesn’t just apply to French companies. 45% of French shoppers are also interested in buying from international brands.
So while you don’t want to price yourself out of the market, the key to repeat customers is creating a great online user experience.
Speak to French consumers in their own language and make sure you provide fully localized product information and pricing. (Read more about how to display prices correctly.) Storytelling is great for capturing the imagination of French shoppers. Including a “made in” section on your product descriptions can be a great way to reveal the story behind a product, for example.
Customer service doesn’t stop at point of purchase, so be sure to localize your post-sales support and communicate with customers in French to create a lasting, positive impression and build loyalty.
2. PAYMENTS AND SHIPPING
The majority of French online shoppers prefer to pay via credit card. Carte-Bleu is a particularly popular choice, as it can be used as both a debit and credit card. France is also the third largest European market for PayPal, with eight million accounts, and Visa is popular too. So be sure to offer a range of payment options.
Although La Poste – the French version of USPS – is pretty much the only courier for eCommerce in France, the French still like to choose from a range of delivery options. Having the option to pick up deliveries directly from local stores is almost as popular as home delivery.
You should also provide as much delivery information as possible. This includes allowing customers to track their orders (in French) and potentially even providing an estimated delivery time frame. Consider offering free returns to give French customers the reassurance they need to proceed with their order. This shouldn’t cost you too much since French returns are rare, dropping as low 6% in some categories.
3. MOBILE AND SOCIAL COMMERCE
Mobile commerce, or mCommerce, is popular in France. In fact, the market grew by 38% in 2017, and 94% of French retailers have a mobile site. If you want your French eCommerce strategy to succeed, you need to be mobile ready.
This is particularly important for younger audiences. French 18-24-year-olds are 30% more likely to use mCommerce than the 55+ demographic. And 45% of 18-35-year-olds like to buy directly on social media.
The desire for social commerce has caught brands off guard. Only 4 out of 10 American and European brands said they were in a position to offer social commerce in France. Therefore, having this capability could help you get ahead in France and strengthen your global position in this space.
Marketplaces are an increasingly essential strategy for success when it comes to eCommerce in France.
- La Redoute: a clothing and homeware site.
- Cdiscount: a discount store selling electronics, furniture, appliances, technology, and more.
- Vente-Privee: the most popular mCommerce site in France and one of only three French unicorns (privately held startups valued at over $1 billion). This company pioneered the idea of online flash sales.
But perhaps one of the most noteworthy sites for eCommerce in France is Rakuten. Created in 2000 as PrinceMinister, it was acquired by Japanese eCommerce brand Rakuten in 2010 and rebranded as Rakuten France in 2018.
A third of French internet users visit the site monthly, so it’s worth considering to reach the French eCommerce market.
HOW TO SUCCEED ON RAKUTEN FRANCE
Selling on Rakuten France involves a monthly fee, as well as commission, a French bank account, adherence to French sales tax law, and locally managed shipping and returns.
Each seller page on Rakuten is customizable, so you can retain control of your brand identity while offering an authentic shopping experience to French consumers. The site also guarantees payments for every sale, even if the buyer doesn’t pay.
Although brands like Zara, Sony, and Levi’s are already on Rakuten France, there’s significantly less competition than on other marketplace platforms like Amazon or eBay. This makes it an appealing prospect for brands looking to break into the French eCommerce space.
In 2016, Rakuten launched its Super Points loyalty program, which rewards customers for spending on the site. In just over 18 months, it’s paid out 10 million euros in rewards, giving customers a major incentive to join.
Super Points can help encourage sales for French events like the Shopping Marathon. The points scheme plays into customers’ enthusiasm for this loyalty program and will help attract customers to your page.
By optimizing your page on the site, you can also feature in the Buy Box, appearing above competitors who are selling a similar product. Besides helping your brand to stand out, customers can add items in this box directly to their basket, making it a proven means of upselling and cross-selling.
eCommerce in France offers significant opportunity for international brands. But to succeed in France’s highly competitive marketplace, you’ll need to localize your strategy to account for local buying behavior and customer experience expectations.