France is an important European country with one of the world’s largest ecommerce markets.

France’s ecommerce market is typical of Europe. Over the last several years, it has shown modest growth, a declining rate of growth, and rising mobile commerce sales. Amazon dominates as the leading retailer, with few signs of usurpation any time soon.

France ranks reasonably well on most business indexes like the “Logistics Performance” and “E-Government Development” indexes (although not as well as the sector of ecommerce in Germany and the UK) and has a high rate of internet penetration.

Nonetheless, the French ecommerce market does have some unique characteristics and challenges. There are obstacles to doing business not seen in other European markets, like a sometimes-volatile political situation and low rate of cross-border purchases. As with all European economies, the long-term impacts of Brexit remain to be seen. Forecasts are generally pessimistic.

There is also some interesting activity in several key areas, like a fast-growing grocery sector. France also has one of the highest return rates in the world, although high return rates are more common to European markets.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at the main statistics, trends, and forecasts for the French ecommerce market.

What will you find in this article?

Market Size
Most Popular Online Stores
Key Metrics for French Ecommerce
Global Comparison
Key Trends and Statistics
Forecasts and Looking Ahead
Other Notable Statistics

Sounds good? Let’s get started.


General information about France

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Market Size

France has the world’s seventh-largest ecommerce market. South Korea and Japan both have slightly larger markets. The French ecommerce market is the third-largest in Europe. Total projected revenue for 2019 is 104 billion euros.

France is a key member of the European Union. Along with Angela Merkel of Germany, Emmanuel Macron is often seen as one of the de facto leaders of the bloc.

The biggest ecommerce markets in the World
The ecommerce sector contributed to 3.78% of total GDP in 2017 and is expected to contribute to 4.22% of GP in 2018. This rate will likely grow as more businesses shift online and French consumers broaden their shopping habits (such as by purchasing more groceries online).

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    The most popular stores (in order) are: Amazon (2.19 billion), Cdiscount (2.08 billion), Vente-Privee (1.89 billion), Auchan (1.32 billion), Apple (820 million), Fnac (675 million), Showroomprivé (588 million), La Redoute (533 million), Carrefour (494 million) and Zalando (472 million).

    Amazon is the most popular online store with a market share of 19%. As with most European countries, Amazon’s foothold is secure, and nobody is expecting it to be overtaken in the near future.

    Top 10 ecommerce stores in France
    Amazon is the largest online store in France. Cdiscount and Vente-Privee come in close behind.

    Key Metrics for French Ecommerce

    The average conversion rate is 1.10%. This is a relatively low conversion rate compared to other countries. It is less than half of the German conversion rate of 2.22%.

    This comparatively low figure may be due to several factors. French consumers still like to shop in high street stores, which may indicate a preference for using the internet to research products rather than buy them. They are also comparatively more bothered about theft of personal details (including their identity and credit card details) and making an accidental purchase.

    The average order value (AOV) is 60 euros in 2017. Globally, this is a comparatively low average order value. This may be as a result of the factors described above.

    Average revenue per user is US$949.80 (per year). Again, this is a low value when compared with the likes of the UK and US.

    Ecommerce accounts for 10% of all retail sales. And Mobile sales will account for 34.7% of all ecommerce sales in 2019.

    Global Comparison

    The French ecommerce market has seen stable growth over the last five years. The rate of growth has fluctuated over previous years but has consistently remained above the average for Europe.
    Ecommerce turnover in France in recent years
    The French ecommerce market has shown relatively consistent growth since 2014. (Source)
    Most European markets (with a few notable exceptions like ecommerce in the UK) are experiencing declining growth rates when it comes to Ecommerce, so France is not exceptional in this regard. However, the growth rate is slightly above the average for Western Europe. It is below the growth rate for North America.

    Retail ecommerce sales worldwide
    The growth rate for France is a little above the average for Western Europe. (Source)
    French growth is below the worldwide average, but this is to be expected. Emerging Asian markets are showing exceptional growth rates, which will likely taper off as markets stabilize.

    Retail ecommerce sales worldwide
    Worldwide growth rate is very high but also declining. (Source)

    In terms of straightforward figures, France generated about half the revenue generated by the UK in 2019. The US had total ecommerce sales of $514 billion, and China had staggering sales of $1,520 billion.

    In terms of straightforward figures, France generated about half the revenue generated by the UK in 2019. The US had total ecommerce sales of $514 billion, and China had staggering sales of $1,520 billion. Click To Tweet

    Top 10 countries in the World ranked by retail & ecommerce sales
    France ranks seventh in the world league table. (Source)

    Bank cards are overwhelmingly the favorite payment method, with 80% of shoppers opting for them.

    French preference in payment methods
    Bank cards are far and away the most popular payment method in France. (Source)
    France has a very high return rate across most sectors. It doesn’t quite match Germany’s figures, which is the highest in Europe, but it isn’t far off.Top sectors in French ecommerce and their return rates
    “Clothing and footwear” is the category with the highest return rate, followed by “Home electronics”. (Source)

    France has a very high return rate across most sectors. It doesn't quite match Germany's figures, which is the highest in Europe, but it isn't far off. Click To Tweet

    Clothing is the largest online retail sector. Notably, the clothing and footwear sector also has the highest return rate of any ecommerce category at 18.8%.

    “Books” is the second-most-popular category, followed by “home electronics” and “cosmetics, haircare, and skincare”.

    The most popular shopping strategies in French ecommerce
    “Clothing/footwear” is the most popular online category. (Source)
    Figures for cross-border purchases are interesting. Around 60% of shoppers in France only make domestic purchases. This is much lower than in other European countries.

    Share of cross-border shopping in France
    “Only 36% of shoppers make cross-border purchases in conjunction with domestic ones. (Source)

    Forecasts and Looking Ahead

    The issues of privacy and GDPR remains present, and long-term ramifications will become apparent in the coming years. French consumers, in particular, are worried about data and identity theft. In one survey, 69% of respondents cited “hackers stealing details” as a key worry.

    The fashion sector, including “clothes”, “shoes”, and “bags and accessories”, is expected to continue to grow. The clothing sector alone is expected to have 29 million customers by the end of 2021.

    Fashion ecommerce in France - predictions
    The Fashion sector is expected to reach 29 million shoppers by the end of 2021. (Source)
    French customers are more open to alternative and innovative delivery methods than other countries. In one study, 58% of respondents said they would give couriers access to their homes (compared to 36% in the UK). La Poste, the French postal service, now delivers on Sundays.

    Other Notable Statistics

    Here are some more notable statistics:


    At first glance, the French ecommerce market may seem uninteresting. It doesn’t have the same high revenues as the US or the UK. Nor does it show the same level of growth as emerging markets in Asia.

    Cross-border purchases are also relatively low, which may deter retailers looking to expand into foreign markets

    But the French online retail sector is an important world market with many unique characteristics. Several categories, particularly fashion and groceries, are very active. And French consumers appear more open to ecommerce innovations, presenting a possible opportunity for forward-thinking retailers.

    UK retailers looking to expand also have unique opportunities. It’s estimated that a quarter of ecommerce sales are cross-border purchases from the UK.

    Top Sources

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