How To Enter The French Market?

P. De Paoli
by P. De Paoli - 3 min read - Sun 23 Oct, 2022
How To Enter The French Market?

France is the largest country in the EU and the sixth-largest economic power globally. Its e-commerce market is the third-largest in Europe and offers excellent opportunities for expansion on the continent. Even if it is not the next market in your growth strategy, you should consider it, as it is a crucial European economy and very influential in international trade.

This guide aims to show you the opportunities France offers and how you can make the most of them. By reading it, you will also get an overview of the country's place in the global balance of power and understand how this affects business.

Basic facts and advantages of doing business in France

France, whose territory stretches from the North Sea to the Mediterranean, is the largest country in the EU. It has more than 66 million inhabitants, representing 13% of the EU population, and more than 41,000 euros per capita income. It is one of the most visited countries globally, and its nominal GDP exceeds USD 2,400 billion, making it the sixth-largest economic power globally. Those are some advantages of doing business in France:

  • Online spending per capita is relatively low compared to other EU countries.
  • France has 35 million e-commerce users and generates more than 72 billion euros of e-commerce revenue.
  • It has more than 204,000 active e-commerce websites.
  • It has an average year-on-year growth of approximately 7% in direct-to-consumer e-commerce sales.
  • Nearly 86% of the French population uses the Internet, and nearly 59% use e-commerce.

Customer trends

To expand into new markets, it is important to consider customer behaviour. How does your target customer tend to buy products? What delivery method do they prefer? The following factors will help you assess the extent to which customer trends can influence your business strategy in France:

  • For 78% of French consumers, free delivery is the main motivation behind their buying decision. For 69%, having an estimated or guaranteed delivery date is also a motivating factor.
  • The most commonly used payment methods in France are credit and debit cards. Visa, Mastercard and Cartes Bancaires account for most of the market share, followed by PayPal.
  • For the French, it is important to be able to shop in their own language. Online shops that do not offer service in French are often not well received.
  • French consumers use a variety of delivery methods: 85% have ever received their purchases at home and at collection points, 36% in-store and 11% in postal deposit boxes.
  • Some of the most popular shopping categories are fashion, cultural products, health and beauty products, and household appliances. Clothing has the largest market share, with more than 6 billion euros.
  • Quality of service is a highly valued factor that the French prioritise.
  • French consumers value transparency. They want to know all the costs before making a payment, they prefer to be informed of the delivery time of their orders and they expect to receive follow-up information.
  • The average French consumer shops online at least 28 times a year.
  • The holidays that most influence e-commerce include Christmas Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Valentine's Day.

Cross-border distribution to France

Although they prefer to buy in their own country, French customers often make cross-border purchases. This is a decisive factor to consider when analysing your business and the French market. Studies show that French consumers spend more than other European consumers on cross-border shopping and that they tend to buy from companies in Germany (41%), the United Kingdom (29%), Canada (18%) and the United States (18%).

It is worth noting that the French have experienced more cybercrime than other European countries, which influences their preference for domestic purchases.

Intra-EU distribution

The three major European economic powers (Germany, the UK and France) account for more than 60% of the European online commerce market. France is, therefore, an attractive destination from which you can serve both domestic and foreign customers.

Despite the short distance between these countries, language is a clear barrier to doing business. Therefore, you must localise your website in the regions where you want to make sales. If you don't know how to do this, Hero Translate can help.

Local distribution

In 2020, logistics in France recorded double-digit growth. The Ile-de-France region is a very attractive option to reach all parts of the country and the rest of the EU. It allows a population of more than 11 million inhabitants to be reached in just two days and is one of the largest and most economically prosperous regions in Europe. This area is home to a quarter of the country's warehouses and offers more than 17 million square kilometres of storage space.

The Seine axis also has many warehouses. It is a growing area that provides quick access to a densely populated urban area of 15 million inhabitants.6

How to start doing business in France

Suppose you are considering entering the French market. In that case, it is essential to consider the advantages and disadvantages of setting up a company in France and the type of business structure that is most appropriate for you. It would help to familiarise yourself with the legislative requirements for e-commerce in France and how they affect you. Finally, you should find out if any trademark registration procedures are required, and look for a distribution centre and transport companies operating in the areas of France you are interested in reaching.


Entering a new market like France is a process that will take you some time. It will not be easy, but it will be a lot easier with the right partners at your side. We at Hero Translate can be your winning partner for what it concerns being recognized as French, with a perfect localization and translation of everything related to this beautiful country.

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