Ecommerce Fraud Risk: France

France’s ecommerce market is one of the largest in Europe, with tech-savvy consumers and plenty of room for expansion in the mobile shopping space. Consumer buying behavior in France is centered around discount shopping, environmentally responsible brands, social commerce, and a resurgence of online travel and tourism. Online businesses that cater to these trends should do well in this thriving market.

France’s Ecommerce Market Is Predicted to Grow Steadily

France is the second-largest ecommerce market in Europe and the seventh-largest market worldwide. In 2021, French ecommerce increased 14%, with revenue reaching just under $70 billion. Through 2025, ecommerce growth is expected to continue at a rate of 5% per year, just slightly under the global average.

That doesn’t mean French consumers aren’t poised to shop online. Almost every French household has internet service (80% penetration) and well over half the population uses smartphones. And in 2021, 69% of the population made at least one online purchase.

The largest ecommerce markets in France include:

Online businesses can find plenty of opportunity — and a few challenges — in the French consumer market. Let’s take a look at what to expect.


Two women taking a selfie at a tourist monument in France

What Makes French Ecommerce Unique?

French ecommerce consumer behavior is distinct. Online shoppers in France share many similar traits.


The French love a bargain and sustainability



Growth in France’s ecommerce market can be attributed in part to retailers adopting discount-driven merchandising and promotions. French shoppers make a point of getting the best possible price. In fact, 62% of French ecommerce consumers prioritize price over quality.

With the country being home to Veepee, the world’s biggest flash sales site, French consumers are no strangers to discount retail. Another French retailer, Maxizoo, has seen exponential growth of 255%. And retailers like Cdiscount have also seen considerable growth. The country also has its own version of Black Friday, where ecommerce businesses offer even better discounts.

Even though French consumers are focused on price, a growing number of shoppers also value sustainability and transparency. In 2021, the French ecommerce market saw a 42% increase in eco-friendly purchases.

Local and cross-border ecommerce growth makes for a competitive market

Thanks to the recent growth, the French ecommerce market has become quite competitive, with a significance presence of large online marketplaces as well as local small ecommerce shops. That means any retailer interested in entering the market has to think about its competitive advantage.

While an astounding 70% of French consumers shop online, 64% shop across borders for a number of reasons, including better prices, accessibility to products not available locally and novelty. France also presents a significant cross-border market for shoppers in other countries, with a 20.4% share and sales figures of nearly $22.5 billion.

Where do the French shop when they look at international ecommerce sites?

  • Websites in China are first, with 35% of the French cross-border market.
  • U.S. websites come in second at 20%.
  • The United Kingdom is the third most popular cross-border shopping destination, with 14% of the market.

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Social commerce is wildly popular

Traditionally, shoppers used search engines to find websites and products; however, social media advertising runs a close second. Specifically, 76% use Facebook to make a purchase, followed by Instagram and Snapchat. Online businesses need to add social channels to their strategy to attract French consumers.

France Is a Leading Consumer of E-Bikes

e-bikes in France

France is one of the fastest-growing markets in Europe for e-bikes. To promote this trend, Île-de-France Mobilités (Paris’ transportation authority) is paying consumers as much as 4,000 euros to convince drivers to switch to e-bikes.

Programs like this are being explored or have been implemented in Sweden, Norway, Scotland and Portugal. As with any high-dollar, high-demand product, the risk of ecommerce fraud is significant. E-bike online businesses need to pay attention to trends and put fraud protection measures in place.

E-bikes have become wildly popular around the world. Learn more about recent trends in this eco-friendly industry.

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Alternative Payment Methods Are Gaining Steam

French consumers default to credit cards for ecommerce payments, with Cartes Bancaires accounting for over half of credit card transactions. Alternative payment methods are starting to gain a foothold in the France with options including:


  • Mobiyo logo – a French payment service provider
  • Paypal logo - PayPal
  • paysafecard_logo – a European payment processing platform similar to PayPal
  • SlimPay_logo  – a subscription service for recurring payments


French Consumers Rely on Click-and-Collect

Amazon Locker - Order online pick up in store

French consumers are adopting “click-and-collect” at lightning speed. Similar to in-store pickup, click-and-collect services deliver online purchases to local shops and public spaces rather than homes. Amazon has taken advantage of this trend by installing Amazon Lockers in train stations across France.

Even French grocery stores offer click-and-collect for food, which was a welcomed service during the pandemic: Retailer E.Leclerc now offers refrigerated lockers near transport hubs as well as drive-through locations where online grocery shoppers can pick up their food.

This trend is particularly helpful in preventing the missed delivery and multiple shipping address issues that can lead to ecommerce fraud issues, such as friendly fraud and chargebacks.


Transaction Authentication Is a Factor For French Ecommerce

A person holding a credit card while using a mobile phone

In 2018, the European Central Bank reported that 70% of total credit card fraud in Europe originated from CNP (card not present) payments. It also highlighted that online transactions were 17 times more susceptible to fraud than face-to-face payments. The European Commission responded with an update to its payment regulations – PSD2, the second Payment Services Directive. Enforcement in France began on March 31, 2020.

PSD2 enforces Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) for all CNP transactions by adding the equivalent of two-factor authentication to each transaction. What long-term effect this will have on the French ecommerce market is unknown. French online businesses and cross-border businesses that sell to French consumers may want to consult with a fraud protection expert to understand how these new regulations can impact their business.

In addition, Brexit, EU VAT legislation changes and additional demands from French tax authorities on importers have made ecommerce in France challenging. For enterprise retailers with sizable budgets and plenty of resources, adapting to those changes have been manageable. However, small and midsize online businesses may struggle with the logistics, taxes and legal aspects of those changes. That’s why it’s important to work with partners that have international experience.

For local businesses, websites must be in French, specific return rules must be followed, and there are restrictions around what times of the year certain items can be sold. 

Understanding Consumer Behavior in France

Before expanding into the French ecommerce market, businesses need to weigh the opportunities and challenges inherent in French ecommerce trends. Understanding the unique consumer buying behavior in France is especially important for an online business’ success.

ClearSale’s original research, “State of Consumer Attitudes on Ecommerce, Fraud & CX 2021,” highlights highlight customer behaviors, opinions about ecommerce fraud, and expectations that shape how online consumers interact with businesses and their brands. Check out this useful report to better understand how customer behavior can help you determine your next course of action in pursuing the unique market.


Learn how customer behavior is shaping ecommerce

ClearSale's State of Consumer Attitudes on Fraud, CX & Fraud 2021

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