The French market presents considerable potential to cross border retailers. France is the fifth largest e-commerce market in the world and the seventh-largest economy in the world, with 89% of its population connected to the internet, and 67% identifying as “active online shoppers.” With a low return rate, these savvy digital consumers are open to cross border online purchases, so well-prepared international retailers can expect success in this market. But brands and retailers must overcome strong loyalty to French brands by understanding how e-commerce shoppers prefer to interact and engage online. To ensure a frictionless market entry, Flow has created a free e-book as a guide for online retailers seeking to expand into the French market.

The French Market Opportunity

E-commerce growth in France is on the rise, and has been for several years. E-commerce in France was worth €92.6 billion in 2018, a 13% increase over 2017. Openness to cross border e-commerce vendors is strong in France. In a recent survey conducted by Flow, 79% of respondents of online shoppers in France said they have made an online purchase from a cross border merchant.

Cross border retailers can succeed in France, provided they are sensitive to consumers’ cultural, linguistic and customer engagement preferences. For example, online shoppers expect a high level of personalized service. Also, the country fiercely protects its official language, French; the use of French is mandatory for e-commerce websites, as well as post-purchase communications and even packaging of goods. The Act of August 4, 1994 and its implementing regulations have established that the use of French language is a fundamental element of French heritage.

Localized payments

Cross border e-commerce retailers should research each market where they sell to determine the top payment preferences, as they vary significantly in each country. In France, debit and credit cards are still the most popular choice for French e-commerce consumers. Of the three main credit cards in France, MasterCard, Visa and Cartes Bancaires, Cartes Bancaires takes the largest proportion at 52.5%.

Closing in on traditional debit and credit cards are alternative payment methods. Offering these payments, in addition to the more traditional methods, is vital to ensuring a frictionless checkout experience for French consumers. The most popular alternative payments in France are:

  • PayPal
  • Allopass
  • CM-CIC Paiement
  • Hipay
  • Moneo
  • Paysafecard
  • Slimpay

Other payment methods in France include cash on delivery (COD) and bank transfers, though still less common.


French consumers are sensitive to shipping and delivery costs: 25% of e-commerce retailers selling in France say that free shipping is an influencer in purchasing decisions.

Further, a study found that French consumers are more open to new delivery methods than consumers in the U.K. Research found that 58% of French consumers would allow couriers temporary access to their homes to let them deliver parcels. Whereas, in the UK, only 36% of consumers would do this. While French consumers are comparatively more trusting of couriers than in other markets, they are careful to select their online retailer to ensure they are not susceptible to fraud.

Cross Border is En Vogue

Entering a top global e-commerce market like France is challenging for retailers to handle on their own. It requires extensive knowledge of EU and local VAT and regulations, and a localized, translated online store that offers relevant deals in French. To find out more, download our free ebook, Cross Border is En Vogue.