France is not only the third biggest economy in Europe, but it is the sixth largest in the world, making it a popular market for cross-border trade. In fact, with 36 million online buyers, as well as a market worth €57bn, it is definitely a country you should be considering as part of your international expansion plans.
Below, we have summarised just about everything you need to know about selling in the French eCommerce market, and listed some of the top marketplaces to focus on (after all, 10 of the 15 most visited sites in France are online marketplaces).
Should I sell my products in France?
Perhaps I should have lead with this question, because at the end of the day, great stats aside, you should only consider selling into a country if it is a good fit for your business.
In other words, as with any market there are certain types of products that will appeal to a French audience better than others. For French consumers purchasing from international retailers, the most popular product types are clothing, footwear and accessories, followed by consumer electronics and entertainment/educational items.
Which French marketplaces should you be selling on?
Again, this depends on what exactly you’re selling, but to give you some guidance, we have provided an overview of some of the top marketplaces in France. Do bear in mind that France also have their own versions of some of the leading global marketplaces including eBay (eBay.fr) and Amazon (Amazon.fr).
Here are the best French marketplaces to consider selling on:
PriceMinister (Part of the Rakuten Group)
has over 22 million members and 9 million monthly active users, making it one of the leading marketplaces in France. While 94% of its customer base are indeed French, it’s worth keeping in mind that the remaining 6% are made up of customers in countries including Belgium, Switzerland and Canada.
As it doesn’t specialise in any one type of industry, sellers are able to list products in almost any category, making the PriceMinister marketplace a competitor of eBay.fr.
What’s also interesting about this site are the host of benefits available to sellers, including a branded and customised store, in-house marketing tools to help you develop your business and a dedicated eCommerce consultant with expertise in your market.
With over 15 million unique visitors per month, Fnac is the third most visited French eCommerce site. It is also a great marketplace for retailers, particularly in the media and consumer electronics industries.
While these two markets make up a large part of the site’s grow merchandise volume, do note that you can list other types of goods including office supplies, baby items, sports equipment, musical instruments and toys & games.
In addition to this, the Fnac marketplace also offers sales and marketing assistance to sellers, as well as technical integration support.
Cdiscount, part of the Casino Distribution Group, offers goods in a comprehensive range of categories, including consumer electronics, homeware, jewellery, fashion, toys & games, entertainment and sports equipment.
While the Cdiscount marketplace is currently only available in French, sellers do have access to multilingual account managers. In addition, merchants have the option to leverage Cdiscount’s well-developed logistics network by fullfiling their orders through the site’s “Cdiscount Fulfilment” service.
As the leading fashion and home eCommerce site in France, with over 9.2 million unique monthly visitors, La Redoute is a great site to consider if you are selling clothing, footwear & accessories, or homeware goods.
More specifically, the La Redoute marketplace is popular typically amongst women between the ages of 26 and 35, making it a great platform for targeting an extensive, young, female customer base.
When selling on La Redoute, there are a few things you do need to consider. Firstly, all listings and product descriptions must be in French and professionally translated. But that’s not all. You must also be able to provide customer service in French, and further offer a toll-free or local rate number for customers to contact you on.
Tips for selling in the French eCommerce market
Now that we have covered some of the popular marketplaces in this market, it’s also worth familiarising yourself with some of the key considerations, expectations and general best practices.
Local language is key
Despite the fact that 45% of French eCommerce consumers are happy to shop from international brands, there is a common expectation that both listings and customer service is provided in the local language. In fact, for many French online marketplaces it is a requirement. For this reason, we would highly recommend that you find yourself a good translation provider to ensure your listings are high quality.
Extend your delivery options
An increasing number of French buyers expect to be given the option to collect their orders from local stores, so you should certainly be offering this delivery method. There’s also a preference for free delivery, so if you can also offer this that you should, even if it’s just by offering it for a minimum order value i.e. free delivery on orders over €40.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that the French only really use La Poste, which is their equivalent to Royal Mail, therefore regardless of which logistics provider you use in the UK, it is very likely that it will be delivered by La Poste.
Compete on price
If you make the decision to sell into France, it is important that you take pricing very seriously, simply because cost will be a huge factor in the consumer’s purchasing decision.
French customers do also expect special offers and discounts, which is why it is recommended that you invest in advertising, something that most French marketplaces provide options for. To give you an example, 2-3 day flash sales are incredibly popular, particularly in the Fashion industry.
Do your research
Before making a decision to expand into any country, you should always do your research into the market and more importantly the customers buying your products.
Ultimately, France is a great market to consider selling into and there are huge benefits to selling on each of marketplaces listed in this article. Whether you’re currently selling internationally or are only just starting to look at cross-border selling, we would strongly recommend that you sell across multiple different channels, in order to extend your reach and maximise business growth.