As one of Europe’s largest consumer markets, France offers an exciting opportunity for businesses looking to grow their influence on the continent. As with any market, understanding the behaviour and expectations of your customers is critical for success.
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most important factors you will want to consider to help you trade like a local.
France: Key Market Data
France is currently ranked as the 6th largest e-commerce market globally, and with a market value of over 114.4 billion euros at the close of 2020, it is the 3rd most powerful digital economy in Europe.
14.3% of retail sales were made online in 2020, and this figure is predicted to rise thanks to the government’s commitment to boosting internet connectivity in rural areas – a factor that has stunted e-commerce growth in the past.
Digital Channels to Prioritise
As is the case with many countries in the west, Google is France’s most popular search engine accounting for 92% of searches. In comparison, 4% of searches are made using Bing, followed by Yahoo with a 1.4% share.
Native French search engines such as Qwant are growing in popularity. However, it is unlikely they will become a viable competitor for Google in the near future.
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO techniques used to optimise .co.uk and .com websites will also apply to your French website. However, content, landing pages and link-building should be localised to ensure your shopfront is competitive amongst local businesses.
France had more than 39 million social media users in January 2020. YouTube and Facebook are the most popular platforms for recreational users, while Twitter and LinkedIn are most commonly used by businesses.
Pay Per Click
With a large user base frequently using Google’s and Facebook’s platforms, paid search, display and retargeting campaigns can be successful for promoting both B2B and B2C products and services.
Email remains a viable marketing channel in France and is especially popular for B2B promotions. Campaigns average an open rate of 30.56% (3rd highest globally behind Belgium and Italy). Before starting email marketing, care must be taken to ensure your data is compliant with GDPR requirements.
France has specific legal requirements for overseas businesses operating a French website. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the obligations set out by the French government here.
Failure to meet these requirements can result in large fines, a custodial sentence and ultimately prevent your business from trading in this market.
All company websites in France must display the following information:
- Company name
- Head office address
- Telephone and email contact details
- Legal status (PLC, Ltd. etc.)
- Share capital
- Name or company name and address of hosting provider
- Name of editor or co-editor of the publication and name of the person who wrote the website
- Name and address of the hosting provider
- Company number
- Tax ID number
- Terms and conditions of sale, including prices (inc. VAT) in Euros, delivery costs and date, payment methods, after-sales service, cancellation and returns policy, duration of any promotions
Conversion Rate Optimisation
Choosing the right domain for your business trading in France can impact heavily on your conversion rate. Think carefully about how your company name could be interpreted by French customers – if it has a different meaning or could be taken as offensive, it is worth considering a change of company and domain name for the French market.
You will also need to select a DLR (the suffix after your domain name). Data from the French Network Information Centre shows that approximately 41% of newly registered domains in France hold a .com suffix. In contrast, the remaining 59% had either a .fr, regional (e.g. .paris) or professional (e.g. .sncf) domain suffix. This leaves you with several options to choose from, and while there can be pros and cons to each of these, .fr domains frequently convert traffic more effectively due to a higher level of consumer trust in national domains.
The overall look, feel and user experience of your website is important no matter which market you are trading in. Strategic use of CTAs and easy navigation are high-priority factors for your web-designer, but don’t overlook the importance of colour symbology as this varies from country to country.
In France, blue signifies peace and freedom, however, green should be avoided as it is synonymous with crime and punishment.
French shoppers value brands which take corporate responsibility seriously, with over 60% of consumers reportedly making buying decisions based on how active companies are in these fields. Your website provides an excellent opportunity to highlight your company’s social and environmental policies, which can go a long way in winning customer trust and loyalty.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how to better engage with French customers, talk to ALM today!