Voice of the Industry

France – overview of key ecommerce insights and trends

Tuesday 25 April 2023 12:56 CET | Editor: Raluca Constantinescu | Voice of the industry

This is a snapshot of the insights that matter most when measuring the size and type of opportunities in the ecommerce market in France.


General overview and facts and figures 

In France, in the past years, a more nuanced ecommerce picture has begun to emerge, revealing the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer shopping behaviours. The volume and value of ecommerce transactions in 2021 clearly show the release of pent-up demand from consumers hankering for a return to ‘normal’ life. But data also shows that some changes in behaviour enforced by lockdowns look set to endure, blending with pre-COVID behaviours to accelerate adoption of experiences that blur the lines between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar, such as Buy Online, Pick-up In Store (BOPIS) and Buy Online, Return In Store (BORIS). 

Read on to discover more about the local payments space and insights into market readiness for vCommerce, crypto payments, and the introduction of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs). 


French consumers increasingly favour a blend of digital and physical 

High growth in channels and delivery methods such as BOPIS point to a consumer base increasingly confident with COVID-related adaptations from merchants. The growth in BOPIS also illustrates the way consumers are increasingly open to experiences that offer the best of both digital and physical shopping. 

Competition remains generally very high among online platforms and marketplaces in France, and from 2018 to 2020 the market volume of the top 500 French online stores increased by 46%. But shoppers are looking further afield, too. By 2020, 50% of French online shoppers had made at least one cross-border purchase. China accounted for 44% of those purchases, followed by Germany (13%), and the UK (13%), with the latter two benefiting from the fast delivery that comes from having a solid ecommerce infrastructure. 


The local payments space 

Card remains king of ecommerce in France, with local card network Cartes Bancaires (CB) the dominant player (more than 95% of CB cards are co-branded with Visa or Mastercard). But, as French consumers’ shopping habits have shifted online in recent years, the convenience factor of e-wallets has proved too strong to resist. The e-wallet landscape is made up of a mix of local players such as PayLib, Lydia, Lyf, and global brands like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay. 

Elsewhere in alternative payment methods, Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) is another big winner of recent years. According to Oney, in 2019, 19% of French people paid in instalments at least once a month. By 2021, 32% reported preferring to have the option of paying in instalments more often in the future. Significant players here include offerings from local banks such as 3x 4x Oney and Floa, local startups like Alma and Pledg, and global payers such as Klarna and Scalapay. 


Ecommerce at the cutting edge: social commerce and cryptocurrency 

In 2025, the global social commerce industry is expected to be worth USD 1.2 trillion, up from an estimated USD 492 billion in 2021. French ecommerce merchants have for the large part been quick to adapt to the social commerce opportunity, with about 41% having already optimised their businesses to accept payments over social media. Among consumers, 15% have made a payment over social media, and for those aged 16-24, it is 39%. The most used platforms are Facebook (76%), Instagram (23%), and Snapchat (11%). 

Approximately 2.1 million people (3.34% of the population) in France currently own cryptocurrency – and more than 25,000 merchants now accept crypto as payment. The market also features crypto-based marketplaces, such as cocote, and several platforms offering gift cards in exchange for crypto. The last couple of years have seen crypto regulation – and therefore complexity – intensify, starting with 2019’s PACTE Law. This law defined crypto firms as digital asset service providers and forced them to register with the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) to continue doing business in France or with French citizens. The law allows professional specialised investment funds and private equity investment funds to invest in digital assets, subject to specific conditions and limits. But to prevent financial crime, a mandatory KYC protocol and identity verification processes are in place. 


Logistics, refunds, and return policies 

One of the main features of online shopping in France is the popularity of the ‘click and collect’ delivery method, as customers can pick up their ordered products via drive-through locations, local branches, or dedicated lockers. 

EU rules govern refunds and return policies for French ecommerce merchants. These stipulate that traders must repair, replace, reduce the price, or offer a refund to customers if the goods bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised. Additionally, if one buys a product or a service online or outside of a shop (by telephone, mail order, and so on), they have the right to cancel and return the order within 14 days, for any reason and without providing a justification (exemptions include products such as perishable goods and drinks, personalised items, and digital goods). 

Across the EU, traders must provide a refund (including shipping) within 14 days of receiving a shopper’s cancellation request, but they can delay the process if they haven’t received the goods or evidence that they have been returned. 

This snapshot was first published in ‘eCommerce Insights and Trends Snapshot: France’, an eBook produced by The Paypers in association with our partner ACI Worldwide – and based on data from ACI Worldwide. Download your free copy of the eBook here to gain access to a much more comprehensive analysis of the main trends and developments in the French ecommerce market. 

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Keywords: ecommerce, online shopping, COVID-19, social commerce, retail, merchants, credit card, debit card, e-wallet, BNPL, mobile payments, refund, crypto, cryptocurrency, regulation, digital assets, KYC
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: France
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Payments & Commerce

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