It is safe to say that France is the cradle of fashion as we know it. The mind immediately jumps to big brand names like YSL, Dior, Chanel, and more. We think red carpet, celebrities, Cannes, and superstars. But there is so much more to French fashion e-commerce, and we want to take a closer look at exactly that today.

French innate chic

Paris is considered an official fashion capital, alongside Milan, New York, London, and many other emerging cities worldwide. French people are significantly price-sensitive. They are regularly drawn in by special offers, discounts, and so on – online as well as in brick-and-mortar stores. This factor creates many opportunities for companies to expand their business in the country.

Fashion is an essential part of France’s rich cultural heritage. It is deeply intertwined with its economic fabric, identity, and self-view, featuring a seemingly endless array of renowned designers and prestigious fashion houses. Rapidly growing in the digital sphere in recent years, fashion e-commerce has emerged as the backbone of France’s economy. This sector alone generates roughly USD 18 billion, or nearly three-fifths of the country’s total national online sales revenue.

COVID19 and its aftermath

Just like every other economy around the globe, France experienced a huge boost in online sales during the COVID19 pandemic. And just like in many other EU countries, the end of the crisis did not bring about an end to the fashion e-commerce surge in France. Customers soon realized that purchasing fashion online was a lot easier, more transparent, and more convenient than trying to find the right item on the high street. In France, an average of 25.49% of online fashion purchases are returned, with 95% of French shoppers preferring drop-off points for product returns. Making returns hassle-free is key to creating a positive customer experience and building trust. Another great plus for online shopping: No standing in line for a changing room or at the check-out, and easy payment options, including “buy now – pay later”, which is becoming ever more popular.

Corporate Social Responsibility

French fashion e-commerce customers have come to expect CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) with all it entails: from sustainable production to traceability and recyclable packaging, as well as centralized delivery/drop-off points. Ecological and social/ethical aspects have become important purchase criteria in fashion e-commerce. Online retailers that ignore these concerns or second-guess their customers in that area are sure to suffer the consequences.

Fashion e-commerce in France is evolving to serve the needs of the next generation of shoppers. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in the adoption of e-commerce for fashion and clothing. With this increase in e-commerce, it has been observed that consumer engagement, and specifically mobile commerce (m-commerce) presents a substantial opportunity for business growth. The French expect all content to be in French. They expect the content to be dynamic and of excellent quality. Automatic translation is a “hard no”, with French customers feeling that if the retailer doesn’t feel the need to invest in translation, they don’t feel the need to purchase. It’s as simple as un, deux, trois.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing has a huge impact on French fashion e-commerce. Influencers play an enormous role in the purchasing decisions of the largest segment of online customers, those between 18 and 35 years of age. Instagram and TikTok are the social media platforms most used by influencers, with Facebook in significant decline, as its users are “aging out”.
Between 2024 and 2028, the influencer advertising market in France is projected to grow by 8.86%, reaching a market volume of USD 711 million.

This segment will see an 8.86% boost over the next five years, reaching $711 million by 2028. Instagram remains the dominant platform for influencer marketing, with 62,516 influencers with 5,000+ followers in 2023. However, TikTok is experiencing rapid growth, with influencer numbers jumping 27.2% to 184,162 in 2023. Nano-influencers are the most popular influencer tier on TikTok and Instagram in France and have the strongest connections with their audience. They are your everyday social media users, with anywhere from 100 to 10,000 followers. They aren’t professional “influencers” in any way – and the majority of their posts feature typical content like photos of their family, friends, cat videos, and memes.

78% of brands in France are expecting an increase in their influencer marketing. TikTok Mega-influencers, i.e. those with a very large following, typically in the millions, have the highest engagement rate in France. 64% of French consumers make a purchase after viewing an influencer’s content. 69% of brands in France entrust their campaign to influencer marketing agencies.

Bottom line

The French fashion e-commerce landscape is changing. Just like with so many other aspects of online media, people no longer trust blindly and respond to pretty colors. They put their trust into what they at least perceive to be the honest opinions of individuals they recognize. Gone are the days of faceless advertising. French online shoppers want to feel like they know who they are buying from. They seek full transparency in terms of CRS and are not only environmentally conscious, but also highly price sensitive.

Any company looking to expand their market into France would be well advised to take these aspects into account.



autor_eurotext_100Author: Eurotext Editorial Team

We explain how internationalization works, provide tips for your translation projects and outline some of the technology and processes used. We also report on current e-commerce developments and cover a range of language-related topics.