France

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Payments

Domestic and Preferred Card Schemes

Many online customers use Carte-Blue to pay their ordered goods online. This is a debit card, that can also be used as a credit card. Other popular credit cards are MasterCard and American Express. PayPal is also quite popular in France. [1]

82% Credit Cards 15% PayPal 3% Domestic Carte Bleu [2]

Payments in France are dominated by credit cards and the local debit card, Carte Bleue. Connecting to a local acquirer will give better acceptance rates. 95% of the population are Visa/MasterCard cardholders, including Carte Bleue. [3]

Alternative Payment Methods

Market summary Cards are the main payment type in France – 76.6% of transactions, with 65.6% provided by local banks, led by Visa provider Carte Bleue. Second most common is e-wallets, representing 11.2%. PayPal holds the major share at 10.4%.[4]

Other Payment Methods

Allopass: specialises in pay-per-phone and pay-per-SMS (text message) payment methods. Bank Transfers, Cash on Delivery, CM-CIC Paiemanet, Hippay, Moneo, Slimpay. [5]

Digital Invoicing

While the Modernization Law of the French Administration (LME) mandated e-Invoicing reception for the French State (Ministries and related bodies) since the 1st January 2012 , the Simplification law (article 1) voted on October 4th, 2013, mandates all Economic Operators (private sector) to send electronic invoices to the public sector, from January 1st, 2017.[6]

Customer Experience

When ordering goods online, online consumers in France like to pay with credit cards. One popular way to do this is with Carte-Blue, a debit card that can also be used as a credit card. Two other popular online payment methods in France are Visa and PayPal. As regards the latter, there are more than 8 million PayPal account in France, which make it the third European country in terms of the number of PayPal accounts. The average French online consumer isn’t that keen on using alternative payments, but among those methods are Allopass, CM-CIC Paiement, Hipay, Moneo, Paysafecard and bank transfers. [7]

Payments Regulation

All forms of e-commerce are available in France. Many companies sell products and services on the internet and use electronic data interchange (EDI) with customers/suppliers. There are a number of business-to-business (B2B) electronic-trading platforms. France is also experimenting in several cities with near-field communications (NFC), a short-range wireless technology whereby mobile phones can be used as payment and identification devices.[8]

Local entities

No local entity is required in France, although (as is the case with most Eurozone countries), an EU entity is mandatory. For Visa and MasterCard, a connection to a local acquirer is also recommended as usually this results in higher authorization rates. [9]

Mobile payments

Many retailers in France are making mobile a priority, the report revealed, with the result that over 50% of their transactions now come via that channel. Overall, the websites of French retailers optimized for mcommerce posted a conversion rate of 3.1%, compared with 1.5% for nonoptimized sites. Apps also played a major role as aids to mobile purchasing, Criteo indicated. Apps generated 47% of retailers’ mobile revenues during the period assessed, and 42% of last-minute mobile travel bookings were made with an app.

Multichannel shopping is increasingly common, too. Criteo found that 40% of digital purchases by residents in France involved at least two platforms or devices. Using multiple devices didn’t mean that consumers were abandoning familiar retailers, though. In 46% of cases, shoppers simply used several devices to consult the same retailer more than once before making a purchase. And even if consumers did most of their research on a desktop or laptop PC, 23% actually bought on a smartphone or tablet. [10]

Logistics

The ecommerce sales for buying products on the internet is well embedded in French consumerism and France is the third largest ecommerce market in Western Europe. Driven by a long history of traditional mail order the supporting logistics market is well developed with strong competition to the local postal incumbent (La Poste). In terms of delivery cost France lags behind other European countries like Germany and the Benelux and, in part, this efficiency disadvantage has been ‘circumvented’ by delivery to Pick-Up Point avoiding the cost of the last half-mile. Cross-border commerce is still only a fraction of total and in many cases the returns management and reverse logistics is considered to be a main prohibitive factor.

Reverse Logistics Return ratios for online sales range from 7% for general goods to 15 % for electronics and over 40% for fashion. For over 70% of online shoppers an easy returns solution is a key decision factor in their buying decision. Returns, or rather the ease of same, therefore; drive sales.

What distant sellers need to realize primarily in the electronics and battery area is that it is obligatory to register the quantity of items that are put to market. The so called European WEEE regulation obliges manufacturers and retailers to be registered and report also the items that are taken back from the market. In many cases there are also options to prevent items ending up to be classified as waste and create a second life with specialized refurbishing companies. Britcom is a key player in domestics appliances and smaller electronics, but there are also good options via Ebay. [11]

Infrastructure

Of the top delivery methods in France, home delivery is the most popular and chosen by 83% of consumers. However, other methods are also popular: in second place is the cheaper option of delivery to a pick-up point; whereas click and collect comes in third, which can allow consumers to obtain the product quickly and even try it before finalising the purchase.[12]

Import Duties

The standard VAT rate for importing items into France is 20%, with certain products attracting VAT at a reduced rate of 10%, and some at a super reduced rate of 5.5% or 2.1%. VAT is calculated on the value of the goods, plus the international shipping costs and insurance, plus any import duty due.[13]

Marketing

France is a prominent country in Europe as well as in the world. It’s part of Western Europe, and it is perfectly located, as it is adjacent to major countries like Germany, Italy, Spain and – although separated by a channel – the United Kingdom. There are some French-administered territories and departments outside of the European continent. These include islands like Guadeloupe, Martinique and the South American overseas region and department French Guiana.

COUNTRY FRANCE Population 65.1 million people - % internet users 68% Online sales €65 billion (2015) Online stores worth mentioning: 3 Suisses, Cdiscount, Vente-privee.com [14]

French e-commerce turnover

France Country: France Official language: French National Association (NA): FEVAD Currency: Euro (EUR) French online population France's population exists of 65.8 million people, of which 84% uses the internet (15 year and older). 35.5 million of these internet users shop online. These online shoppers or e-shoppers on average spend €1,600 per year. Of the French population, 32% uses Facebook and 9% uses Twitter

French e-commerce The French E-commerce sales reached €56.8bn in 2014, which means there has been a 11.2% e-commerce growth in 2014. The VAT-rate in France is 19.6%.

Overview of French e-commerce statistics Online shoppers: 35.5 mn Average spending per online shopper: €1,600 E-commerce growth in 2014: 11.2% Standard VAT-rate: 19.6% [15]

Shoppers

France, with its ageing population, is a country in which buying most often equals pleasure. France is famous for its high consumption of leisure and cultural products and gifts. The French consumer is relatively affluent and impulsive, makes frequent purchases and likes to try new and innovative products. As regards foodstuffs, the French are more likely to buy domestic products and are increasingly concerned about the environment and their health (booming organic products).[16]

Social Media

Social media advertising spend in France stood at US$.5 billion by end of 2015, accounting for 10.5% of total online advertising. During 2011-2015, Social media advertising in the country has increased at a CAGR of 41.9%. This growth is expected to continue in 2016 with brands expected to spend US$.7 billion, representing an increase of 33.7% over 2015. Over the forecast period (2016-2020), Socintel360 expects Social media advertising spend to grow at a CAGR of 27.3% to reach US$1.9 billion in 2020, accounting for 30.2% of the total online advertising spend. [17]

Major shopping categories

The French e-commerce market has over 182,000 active websites, and that number is expected to reach 200,000 by 2017. Today, online shoppers purchase travel packages (32%), clothing (10%), home equipment (7%), click and collect products (7%), and cultural products (5%). The click and collect option for grocery stores has grown significantly in the past years and grocers are adding a greater number of sites offering this purchasing option. Clothing items are the primary product purchased on mobile phones followed by technology products. [18]

Major retail holidays

Online shopping sales increase during November and December due to the holiday season.[19]

Legal / Regulatory

Privacy and Data Protection The Law on Privacy Protection in relation to the Processing of Personal Data was issued in France in 1978 (Act 78-17 of 6 January 1978 on Data Processing, Data Files and Individual Liberties). The European Directive on this subject was only published three years later, on 24 October 1995, and France transposed it into national legislation by the Law issued on 6 August 2004. The French regulations, with regard to the use of “cookies” and other similar techniques, are included in the Law on Privacy Protection and have received further interpretation by the French Privacy Commission (the CNIL).

Consumer Protection The consumer protection in the context of ecommerce under French law is mainly regulated by the Law issued on 22 June 2004 for the Trust in Digital Economy. It contains matters such as rules on advertising, labelling, price indication, e-contracting and other information to be provided to the consumer, as well as on the publication of online content. The European rules on distance selling and distant selling of financial products have been transposed separately and included into the French Consumer Code. The rules on unsolicited communications have been incorporated into the Postal and Electronic Communications Code.

Digital Signatures and Authentication In 2000, several provisions of the French civil code have been modified in order to make electronic documents and signatures legally acceptable. In 2004, the Law in the Trust in Digital Economy has regulated the liability of certification service providers issuing qualified digital certificates.

Custom and Duties If goods are imported from outside the EU, import duties may become due based on the tariff classification, customs value and origin of the goods. VAT shall become due upon importation from non-EU countries when the goods are to be declared for use within this country. The customs/VAT warehousing procedure allows the storage of goods without such goods being subject to import duties (neither VAT nor customs duties are due). A non-EU taxable person who imports goods into France in his own name must register for VAT purposes and appoint a fiscal representative. A taxable person established outside this country, but within an EU Member State, can either register directly for VAT, or register through the appointment of a tax representative.

More in-depth information (including sources) about ecommerce law, privacy and data protection, consumer protection, digital signature, custom and duties, electronic contracting, computer crime and intellectual property can be found in the Cross-border Ecommerce Report - France [20]

FX Policies

France is one of nineteen countries (known collectively as the Eurozone) that use the euro currency. Exchange rate policy for the euro is handled by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. After spending most of 2013 and the first half of 2014 in the range of USD 1.30 to USD 1.40, the euro began to fall against the dollar in mid-2014, reaching a low USD 1.05 in March 2015. During 2015 and first quarter 2016, the euro vacillated between USD 1.05 and USD 1.15. France’s investment remittance policies are stable and transparent. All inward and outward payments must be made through approved banking intermediaries by bank transfers. There is no restriction on the repatriation of capital. Similarly, there are no restrictions on transfers of profits, interest, royalties, or service fees. Foreign-controlled French businesses are required to have a resident French bank account and are subject to the same regulations as other French legal entities. The use of foreign bank accounts by residents is permitted.[21]

Technology

This statistic shows the number of people in France who access the Internet at home from 2000 to 2016. It shows that in 2015, over 55 million people in France had access to the internet, up from 53.7 million in the previous year. By 2015, that accounted for 83.3% of the population.[22]

Security

A new study just revealed some critical cybersecurity issues about internet in France: indeed, 100% major French companies websites show security vulnerabilities. And even worse: 60% of them have at least one serious flawwhich cybercriminals can use to exploit huge amounts of data. If it’s not really a surprise, the problem was not seen as being so serious. This study released by Wavestone, a Web security-based firm audits carried out between June 2015 and June 2016 for 82 companies among the 200 largest French is eloquent. Indeed, none of the 127 tested sites – representing respectively 84 websites and 43 private corporate networks site – have passed the test. The full impact sites had at least one of the 47 vulnerabilities tested.

50% of the websites accessible to the public even contains a serious flaw at least: they indeed enable hackers to collect in an automated way all the available data on the site. These so-called serious flaws, the most common ones affecting 44% of sites are for partitioning problems. This means that these sites allow a hacker to simply access the site of another user data or access to the website roots. “For example, on a bank site, it was possible to view the sessions of other people who were online at the same time, very simply, from a hacked account,” said Gerome Billois, a security expert at Wavestone.[23]

Mobile appetite

Ownership of mobile devices in France sits below the global average, with just 40% of shoppers using smartphones and 12% tablets. Spending on these devices is equivalently low, 7% spent via smartphones, 3% via tablets and just 1% of total online spending done via mobile. Around a third (28%) of shoppers express their intention to spend using this platform in the coming year. [24]

References

  1. ECommerce News. "The Most Common Payment Methods in Europe"
  2. Merchant Accounts Expert Market. "Online Payment Methods Around the World."
  3. GoInterpay [www.gointerpay.com]
  4. Worldpay. "Alternative Payments 2nd Edition Report"
  5. The Paypers "Payments France"
  6. PEOPPL "France - National e-voicing context"
  7. ECommerce News. "France"
  8. EIU Store "France Regulations"
  9. Adyen. Global E-Commerce Payments Guide. 2015.
  10. EMarketer. "1 in 5 Ecommerce Purchases in France Happens Via Mobile"
  11. The Paypers. "ECommerce Logistics - France"
  12. Twenga Solutions"E-commerce in France: Facts and Figures 2016"
  13. Pitney Bowles "DutyCalculator"
  14. ECommerce News. "ECommerce Per Country"
  15. ECommerce Europe. "France."
  16. Santander Trade "France: Reaching the Consumer"
  17. PR Newswire "PFS Web France"
  18. Export.gov "France Country Commercial Guide"
  19. PFS Web "2015 France eCommerce Summary"
  20. The Paypers. "ECommerce Law"
  21. Export.gove "France - Conversion and Transfer Policies"
  22. Statista "Internet Users in France"
  23. Le VPN "Alert Website Security in France"
  24. Worldpay. [www.Worldpay.com/global_shopper "Global Shopper."]