France is not only the third biggest economy in Europe, but it is the sixth largest worldwide, making it an increasingly popular market for cross-border trade.
In fact, with 36 million online shoppers, as well as an eCommerce market worth €65 billion, it is definitely a country you should be considering as part of your international expansion plans.
But what exactly is there to know about selling in France? And which French eCommerce sites should you be listing your products on?
Below, we have summarised almost everything worth knowing and listed some of the top marketplaces in France to help you get started.
After all, ten of the 15 most visited sites in the country are online marketplaces…
What are the top French marketplaces to sell on?
The honest answer is that it depends entirely on what you’re selling.
While there will be some more niche sites worth exploring, below we have outlined some of the more popular marketplaces that can be a great starting point.
PriceMinister, part of the Rakuten Group, has over 22 million members and more than 10 million 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 such as Belgium, Switzerland and Canada.
As it doesn’t specialize in any one type of industry, PriceMinister sellers are able to list products in almost any category, making the site a direct competitor of eBay.fr.
What’s also interesting about this marketplace are the host of benefits available to sellers, including a branded and customized store, in-house marketing tools to help users develop their business and a dedicated eCommerce consultant with industry expertise.
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, jewelry, 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 fulfilling their orders through the site’s “Cdiscount Fulfillment” service.
Want to learn more about selling on Cdiscount?
Take a look at the marketplace focus guide, which covers everything from seller fees, to marketing options and French eCommerce tips.
Another leading eCommerce site in France, Pixmania attracts close to 8 million visitors every month, from 13 European countries.
Unlike some of the other more general marketplaces listed, Pixmania does in fact focus predominantly on hi-tech goods, including cameras, computing, home appliances, watches and gadgets.
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.
As one of the top five eCommerce sites in France, eBay.fr is another one worth considering, especially if you're already selling on the domestic version of their marketplace.
Just like eBay, Amazon also has it's own local marketplace; Amazon.fr.
Amazon France alone welcomes 19 million visitors to it's site every month, making it one of the top three eCommerce sites in the country and subsequently one worth researching.
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 familiarizing 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 of a 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 French consumers 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, which is the most popular eCommerce industry in this country, followed by consumer electronics and entertainment/educational items.
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 maximize business growth.
Consider inventory management software
As your business expands across multiple marketplaces across the world, it is extremely challenging to remain in full control of your business and its operations. As such, an integral piece of software worth considering is an automated inventory management system.
Such a solution enables you to sell across hundreds of marketplaces and eCommerce platforms all from one centralized location. Plus, it automatically updates and synchronizes your inventory levels so that you're never at risk of a stock out or overselling.
Not to mention, there are numerous opportunities to help scale your business with the use of inventory management software. From enhancing your efficiency to streamlining your order management and maximizing your profitability, the benefits of multi-channel inventory and order management software are huge and plenty.
Explore your cross border opportunities
Thinking about expanding into other European markets? We’ve also got some great guides for selling into Germany and Spain.