E-commerce in France is doing well, but progressing more slowly. According to the study by Xerfi-Percepta, the growth rate of e-commerce has fallen from 53% in 2005 to 22% in 2011 and is projected to decline to 13% by 2015. In 2011 the sector accounted for €37.7 billion.
Despite this decline, the average amount of online purchases reached €90.30. The study is still clear that “the potential maximum of online shoppers could have been reached by 2016-2017 taking the demographic into account,”, something that could represent a danger for large distributors, who are advised to retain customers “as a matter of emergency. ”
The big brands continue in effect to claim ownership of the web; since early 2012, nearly 70% of major French retail chains (all sectors) had an online retail site.
The study also stresses that the growing success of the retail brands is mainly due to the click & collect system that allows the consumer to collect their online purchases in-store. It is, however, the pure players who have carved out the lion’s share in France.
By the end of 2011 there were over 100,000 businesses selling online with an average turnover of €350,000 per site. However the top forty players alone generate online sales that account for nearly 25% of the entire French e-commerce activity. A virtual monopoly explained by the presence of former players (La Redoute, 3 Suisses, CDiscount), who are able to adapt to a changing economic climate.
For all that, “the Internet should not be considered a paradise” warns the analyst firm. When all the high street brands have a merchant website, “they will end up facing the same market conditions as in the physical sphere” with the “saturation” problem associated with a lack of differentiation of sales concepts.