How does e-commerce work in France? We’ll explain it to you here.

Christian Kautzsch  |  11.07.2024  |  Time to read 6 Min

Be well prepared for French online retailing

If you want to capture the international market, preparation is the key. Without an internationalization strategy, it will be difficult.

With the strategy, you can find out how to increase the average number of visitors from 12,500 to 370,000 with a country-specific website and an adapted offer.

In this blog we give you important information about the market potential in France and everything you need to know about exporting from Switzerland to France.

We will also tell you how to adapt your website and your shipping service perfectly to the wishes of your French customers.

Ideal first step: the e-commerce France market

France is an ideal entry market for cross-border e-commerce because of its language and its close geographical location to Switzerland.

However, this is not the only advantage.  According to estimates, 35% of orders in France in 2018 were from abroad.

At the same time, 413,000 customers ordered goods from a Swiss web shop. Arguments in favour of selling to France.

Swiss online shops have a good reputation

The percentage of people who shop online in France at least once a month is higher than the European average. Yet the potential is huge, as 6.3 million French people can envisage ordering something in Switzerland.

French people consider Swiss online shops to be very trustworthy and secure – 19% of those surveyed would recommend Swiss online shops to others.

Good to know: the average online spending per customer and year abroad is EUR 391 in France.

What your French customers want

If you want to be successful in the French market, you have to fulfil the wishes of your French customers. We’ve compiled the most important information for you here:

What do French people primarily buy online?

French customers mainly buy fashion items, cosmetics, home articles and electronics online from foreign online shops. 41% of French customers said that they ordered fashion items when shopping online.

The reason is also interesting: the main reason French people gave for shopping abroad was the low price and the large selection.

In addition, French people believe that products from Switzerland are of high quality. Remarkably, these statements are a common thread through in the answers of all our European neighbours.

Purchases france

The Google Market Finder shows you whether your products are suitable for the French market.

Design your online shop with French customers in mind

Firstly, what are the preferred devices of French women and men:

Devices France

Most French customers make their purchases on the Internet via a PC or laptop. However, around 22% of French people shop via their smartphone – and the trend is rising.

That’s why it’s important that you optimize your website for mobile use or possibly even create an app.

The most frequently used payment methods in France

The payment options are very important for your customers. They have a significant influence on whether customers will use your online shop or not.

Generally, the more payment options, the better. But this is not always so easy to implement in practice. Therefore, first limit yourself to the most frequently used and desired means of payment. Here’s an overview:

Paypal France


Also interesting: 83% of retailers rate the non-payment risk of French customers as low or very low.

Shipping and logistics when shipping to France

As you have seen in the table, most products ordered abroad are light and small.

This has a direct impact on the size of the delivery. For example, 84% of orders from France are lighter than 2 kg and are therefore ideal for the favourable letter channel and our small goods product. Send small goods up to 2 kg abroad and our shipping solution.

Customs clearance for shipping to France

Only 7% of customers had to pay customs duties on their last purchase – as you can see, foreign customers are not used to customs duties being levied on their international orders, and they don’t expect any additional charges when they receive their order.

This calls for a good customs clearance solution! Customers also want to know specifically what the delivery costs are. This information is considered one of the important arguments before finalizing an order. 

We are talking about a DDP solution (Duty Delivery Paid - all import duties are paid by the shipper).

For shipments to the EU to private customers up to a shopping basket of €150.00, you can use the IOSS shipping solution, which is a VAT registration to offer your customers in the EU a DDP solution so that the recipient no longer has to pay any additional VAT costs (import duties) upon receipt of the shipment. Great thing.

Alle Informationen wie Du richtig ins Ausland versendest, findest Du in unserem Blog. Dort erklären wir Dir, wie Du die Verzollung optimieren kannst und damit die Kundenzufriedenheit steigerst.

Speed is important to the French

Time delivery France

If you can offer your customers several options when it comes to shipping, all the better.

89% of customers say that consignments from a neighbouring country should arrive within 7 days.

However: when customers have the choice between a fast, expensive delivery and a slow, cheap one, they usually opt for the slow variant without complaining about the longer delivery time.

Delivery options

56% of French customers want to choose the delivery location themselves. Most French people want the delivery to be sent to their home.

What is surprising is that in France, 46 % of the French choose collection from a parcel acceptance point as the second most attractive delivery option. This is rather the exception compared to other countries.

France rapport

23% would like to confirm receipt by signature, while 27% would prefer that no signature is required.

Signature France

As a rule, 63% of French people receive their international delivery without having to pay delivery charges. 49% of French people would like to have the option to choose sustainable delivery. Find out everything about sustainable online shops and how to use one in our blog article. 

48% would pay EUR 0.1 more for this. 59% would like to have sustainable packaging and 48% would be willing to pay EUR 0.1 more for it. 


On average, 5% of orders are returned to France. The returns rate in France is thus slightly higher than that in Switzerland.

A simple and reliable returns process is important for 55% of French customers. 

Learn how to optimize the returns process in our blog.

To return goods, French customers prefer to return them to the post office (32%) and to a courier parcel shop (32%).

France delivery preferences


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