Explore the market:
The French market is the third largest eCommerce market in Europe, a mature one, but still with high potential, as there are still a lot of French consumers that didn’t start buying online. What’s considered to be a bestseller? Are they very conservative, or rather open to new products? Check this out in our next article from the series Explore the market!
French e-commerce market
Size of the market
France is the third-largest e-commerce market in Europe and as many as 89 percent of French people in the survey state that they have shopped online.
Average basket value
The average order value was 60 euros in 2017. Globally, this is a comparatively low average order value.
Most popular marketplaces
The most popular is Amazon, which launched a French domain back in 2000, followed by the domestic marketplace Cdiscount. In May 2020, the country’s leading supermarket group, Carrefour, also transitioned from being an online store to become a digital marketplace.
You can find more information here: https://www.growcode.com/blog/ecommerce-in-france/
Returns / complaints - legal regulations
In France, consumer rights are protected with two regimes covering defects to the items purchased: the legal guarantee and commercial warranties. As its name implies, the first one refers to the law that obligates the seller to offer a guarantee. Commercial warranties do not have a legal status and are more commercial. Whether to offer it or not is up to the seller, therefore they must be clear about it. In both cases, it is needed to keep the packaging and receipts for items so that it’ll be easier to assert consumers’ rights.
You can find more information here: https://www.frenchentree.com/living-in-france/shopping-in-france-your-consumer-rights/
Most popular industries and product categories
Clothing and footwear, home electronics, sports and leisure products, books, and audiobooks.
Permits, licenses, certificates by industry
Being an EU citizen is a big perk since they do not need a residence permit to settle in France and can therefore obtain their business license easily.
Preferred payment methods, trusted payment providers
Cards are the dominant payment method for French e-commerce. Cartes Bancaires is a domestic, highly recognized interbank payment system in France. One Cartes Bancaires-enabled payment card is ‘Carte Bleue’, which can function both as a debit and a credit card and is the primary payment method in France. Digital wallets are the next most popular method. Of the digital wallets, PayPal is the most popular.
You can find more information here: https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/france
Expected delivery time
A wide network of post services allows the parcels to be delivered within few days, even to those more difficult regions. The most popular courier service is Colissimo (LaPoste group). If faster delivery is needed, it’s better to choose one of the global providers like UPS or DPD, but not every region will be reached within 48 hours. France is rather an expensive market if it comes to courier services. 7-10 EUR per delivery per parcel is a standard price.
You can find more info here: https://www.thelocal.fr/20190523/how-to-send-packages-from-france-to-the-uk-and-us-and-how-long-it-should-take/
The most popular courier company
Colissimo, DPD, DHL, Mondial Relay, Relais Colis, Chronospost.
Most popular delivery method
In the mailbox, home delivery in daytime or distribution point
Same day delivery
It is possible to achieve the result of same-day delivery, but rather in Paris than in other regions of the country.
Shipping package regulations
There are global lists of prohibited and restricted items that apply regardless of a shipment's destination. In addition to these global prohibitions and restrictions, individual countries or territories may impose further prohibitions or restrictions on the importation of certain items.
You can find more info here: https://pe.usps.com/text/imm/fh_005.htm
Running a business in France
The legal form of business
There are four main types of companies in France:
Entreprise Individuelle, Entreprise Individuelle à Responsabilité Limitée, Société à Responsibilité Limitée, and Société Anonyme Par Actions.
- An Enterprise Individuelle à Responsabilité Limitée is a company with no personal liability and without the need to form a separate legal identity.
- A Société à Responsibilité Limitée company is the most common type of business in France for small to medium-sized companies.
- A Société Anonyme Par Actions is the most frequently used business model for large companies.
Bank account, banking regulations
Opening a bank account in France will make local payments easier if you are living and working in France. For some transactions, such as renting or buying French property, a bank account may even be obligatory, therefore sorting one out can become a critical first step to getting settled in France.
If you relocate before opening a bank account in France, you can manage your finances and make payments using an overseas account. Most French businesses accept cards such as Visa and Mastercard. You can use ATMs at banks for free but you should check for any charges issued by your home bank. If you are intent on opening a bank account in France, you can do so in advance of your move. Some French banks offer non-resident accounts (compte non-resident) that can be operated from overseas. Many multinational banks also have branches in France, so if your home bank has a French base, you shouldn’t have a problem transferring. Additionally, some French banks will help you set up an account before you move if you can prove that you will be a long-term resident in the country and can provide a French address.
You can find more information here: https://www.expatica.com/fr/finance/banking/opening-a-bank-account-in-france-101158/#before
Tax rules: Corporation tax
There are five tax rates and bands on net income earned in 2020 (taxable in 2021), as follows:
- up to €10,084 – 0%,
- between €10,085 - €25,710 – 11%,
- to €73,516 – 30%,
- to €158,222 – 41%,
- above €158,222 – 45%.
At the European level, agricultural products are protected within the Common Agricultural Policy and textile products from China, Belarus, North Korea, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Uzbekistan are subject to particular formalities and import licenses or control procedures (export document, monitoring document).
Among the non-tariff barriers are France's regulations and bureaucratic procedures, its complex safety standards, and it's testing and certification requirements. Import duty and taxes are due for goods imported to France from outside of the European Union - whether by a private individual or a corporate entity. France is a party to the European Union’s Common Customs Tariff, therefore preferential rates apply to imports from countries with which the EU has signed agreements with duties range from 0-17%, with the general tariff averaging 4.2%. However, foodstuffs, textiles, and clothing still experience some protection measures (quotas, higher tariffs, etc.). Some imports are subject to anti-dumping duties.
Customs threshold (from which tariffs are required): EUR 150
VAT registration thresholds
Goods €85,800; Services €34,400
Willing to buy from foreign sellers
In 2019, 36 % of French online shoppers bought from foreign e-merchants, and 62% of e-merchants established in France received orders from customers abroad.
Most popular countries for import of goods
Countries that imported the most French shipments by dollar value during 2020:
Germany: US$69.1 billion (14.5% of total French exports)
United States: $37 billion (7.8%)
Italy: $36.8 billion (7.7%)
Spain: $35.2 billion (7.4%)
Were we helpful?
If you found this article useful, we will be more than grateful for your feedback. If you would like to see it in a different way – let us know as well. We will do our best to support your business, not only with advanced software and tools but also with knowledge, research, and advice.