France is a big player in the e-commerce market, ranking second in Europe and fifth overall in the world in terms of online purchases in 2020. This makes it an attractive target market for companies in Europe and the rest of the world. Ready to learn more about France’s e-commerce market? In this article, we’ll share the background information and statistics you need to start planning your expansion into the French market.

Facts and Statistics about France

France is one of the largest nations in the EU. Its 635,700 km2 make it larger than Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia  put together. Because of its close proximity to nearby economic partners such as Germany, and because of its close relationships with procurement and trade markets, it is an important economic player whose influence stretches across multiple continents and foreign territories.

France’s largest metropolitan area is the capital Paris, where over 12.6 million of France’s 67.4 million residents live. Other major regions include the city of Lyon in the south-east (2.3 million), Marseille-Aix-en-Provence on the Mediterranean coast (1.7 million), Toulouse in the south of France (1.3 million) and Bordeaux in the south-west (1.2 million).

France has a semi-presidential system of government in which both a president and prime minister share executive powers. The president is elected by universal vote every five years, and is limited to two terms in office.

France is one of the founding members of the EU and the United Nations, as well as a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is a part of the European domestic market and its currency is the euro.

Language and Localization

The official language of France is French, which enjoyed a prominent place as the world’s international language of choice for hundreds of years. Although English has now taken on that role, French is still used in a great number of countries outside of France. It is the official language in 29 countries and 12 dependent territories, including parts of Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland.

The francophone community consists of around 300 million people who speak French either as their native or second language. About 40% of them live in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania. France generally has close economic relationships to the francophone countries.

Students in France typically learn English or Spanish as a second language. However, that doesn’t mean that they want to shop in these languages! The numbers vary, but different studies estimate that less than 50% of French people speak English at a conversational level, and less than 10% speak fluent English.

Furthermore, studies have shown that consumers vastly prefer to shop in their native language, and 40% never shop in a second language — so offering French consumers a website in their native language is certainly worth the effort.

Internet usage in France

Data from Statista indicates that 83% of the French population uses the internet on a daily basis. 86% of households have an internet connection and 76% of individuals access the internet on their mobile phones. 99% of the population has access to 4G mobile networks.

French consumers are sophisticated internet users and go online to learn more about products and services, to comparison shop, and to make purchases. The universal 4G coverage and popularity of mobile devices means that the French are online no matter where they go. They often do research or make purchases while outside of their homes or offices.

Researchers predict that the internet will become even more omnipresent in the lives of French consumers in the future — including in terms of e-commerce. By 2023, businesses will be able to reach an estimated 52.8 million potential customers using the internet.

Currently, about 69% of French businesses have a website, and about 28% of all retail and trade services in France are involved in e-commerce. French companies primarily use Facebook for their social media presence.

Economy and Online Shopping Behavior

France’s economy is the fifth largest in the world and accounts for approximately one fifth of the Euro area gross domestic product (GDP). The services sector contributes about 70% of the GDP. France is also a global leader in manufacturing in the automotive, aerospace and railway sectors as well as in luxury goods and cosmetics. Moreover, France’s labor force is highly educated, boasting the highest number of science graduates per thousand workers in all of Europe.

French consumers like to shop online! In 2020, online sales created $112.2 billion US dollars in revenue and approximately 76% of the population made an online purchase. The most popular online stores in France are:

  • Amazon FR – €3.351 billion net sales per year
  • Cdiscount – €2.276 billion net sales per year
  • Veepee (previously Vente Privee) – €2.274 billion per year
  • Auchan – €1.635 billion per year
  • Apple – €839 million per year
  • Fnac – €784.8 million per year

About 40% of online purchases are made using a smartphone, and of those mobile purchases, about 47% were made via an app. The remaining 53% of mobile purchases were made using a browser.

Preferred payment and delivery methods in French E-commerce

Most consumers in France like to pay with a bank card or credit card (80%) while online banking, consumer credit, bank transfer and other payment methods are used only occasionally. Cash on delivery does not play an important role in French e-commerce.

When it comes to delivery, 45% of French shoppers prefer to have the package delivered to them at home with signature confirmation. About 22% prefer to have the package left at their door without a signature. Unlike Germany, where packages are often delivered to a “PackStation” or parcel machine, only 2% of French shoppers opt for this delivery method. Nearly 70% of survey respondents said that the maximum delivery time should be between three and five days.


France is definitely an attractive option for companies who are looking to expand into new European markets. The fact that France is a member of the EU and uses the euro as its currency means that companies who are already operating in Europe will have an easier time adding a French shop to their offerings. Products can easily be shipped from centrally located European warehouses without worrying about import fees, and there’s no need to worry about currency conversions for the product catalog or inventory.

The French population loves to use the internet and does a great deal of shopping online, so it is easy to reach them as prospective customers. The only real hurdle that foreign companies face when expanding to the French market is the language barrier. Your website will need to be translated into French, but that is really the only difficulty you can expect — and it is one that can be taken care of easily. Overall, the benefits of gaining access to French shoppers easily outweigh the effort.