French SEO and Internet Marketing

The French e-commerce market is still relatively small, so future growth rates for French online spending are expected to be the highest in Europe. As French internet broadband usage rises significantly every year, offshore B2C internet retailers who have effective professional website translations and strong multilingual SEO strategies will be able to leverage on credit card security, easy low cost online transactions, discounted products and faster delivery times to drive this growth up to newer levels.

Quick Summary:

Number of French internet users: 26.21 million

French broadband access: 14.72 per 100 people

Most popular local French search engine:

Most popular French website types: News and Travel

Credit card penetration in France: 33%

French e-commerce spend (2005): US $ 8.09 billion

Number of French who have bought online (2004): 10.6 million

France is one of Europe’s leading countries and is also a modern developed nation to the core. France’s GDP at current prices for 2006 stands at US $ 2,227.3 billion, a growth of 4.7% over 2005 France estimates, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Database dated September 2006. Nielsen Net Ratings Data states that the total number of French internet users in January 2006 was 26.21 million, a growth of 5.5% over 2004, and constituting 43% of France’s total population in 2006. The World Bank World Development Indicators Database, April 2006 also estimates France’s total number of internet users (per 1000) in 2004 to be at 414, having increased by 188% since the year 2000.

* Source: ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Data, 2000

France currently has the highest number of broadband users in Europe, i.e. 8,927,000.France’s 2006 broadband access per capita stands at 14.72 per 100 people (under a weighted average of 13 per 100), with France ranked 14th out of 31 countries. France is also the third largest telecom market in Europe, after Germany and UK. A Joint World Bank and ICT Data report on France states that France’s mobile and fixed line subscribers (per 1000) in 2004 stood at 719 and 565 respectively, while France’s PC penetration (per 1000 people) also stood at 414 in 2004, a growth of 26.6% over 2003. is the biggest French search engine, owned by France Télécom. France’s other popular search engines are,,,,,, and EIAA’s ‘Europe Online’ Report for August 2006 also states that France’s most frequently visited websites are those for news and travel, with the French also tending to visit far more film, family, and kids websites than the European average for the same.

According to Forrester Research, France’s credit card penetration rate in 2004 remained low at 33%, behind UK and Germany. This was due to the continuing popularity of conventional payment methods like cash, cheques and debit cards (especially Carte Bancaire and Carte Bleue debit cards). By the end of 2003, there were 39 million debit cards and just 9 million credit cards used in France. Credit cards are less common in France, since the French having a culture and history of saving, only buying things with their actual money earned. The French usually prefer debit cards since they are a cheaper alternative, with no additional fees charged per transaction. Euromonitor International has estimated the French market for credit and charge cards at € 124.3 million (US $ 153.5 billion) in 2004, having witnessed a growth of 3.3% since 2003. The French credit and charge card market is also forecast to grow by 23.3% to reach a value of € 153.2 billion (US $ 189.1 billion) by 2009, fuelled by the modern generation with less conservative attitudes towards credit.

Mintel’s Internet Quarterly Report dated June 2006 estimates France’s online B2C retail sales in 2005 to be € 6.5 billion (US $ 8.09 billion), contributing 16.17% of Europe’s E - commerce market. Being smaller vis-à-vis UK and Germany, France’s online retail sales is expected to have the highest forecast growth rates in Europe, i.e. growing by 200% to reach € 19.6 billion (US $ 24.38 billion) by 2010. By the end of 2004, France had 10.6 million online buyers. Forrester Research also asserts that from 2003 to 2006, the number of French consumers buying online has almost doubled, with a forecast of 26 million online French buyers spending € 39 billion (US $ 48.52 billion) on online purchases of products and services by 2011. Traditionally, the French have always preferred visiting physical stores for their provisions or clothes. Moreover, France’s two pre-existing alternative technologies, Minitel (B2C) and EDI (B2B) have also hindered the full-fledged adoption of internet-based e-commerce technology. But with internet now having become a well-entrenched way of life for the French, future growth prospects for French e-commerce looks very promising, as internet broadband penetration increases. Thus, offshore internet retailing would present a significant growth opportunity in France, assuring credit card payment security, lower product prices, and quicker deals and deliveries at minimal costs, as compared to physical transactions.

Reference Sources/Further Readings:

1. IMF World Economic Outlook Database

2. The World Bank Group - World Development Indicators Database, April 2006


4. - The World Factbook




8. EIAA (Europe Interactive Online Association) Europe Online Report, August 2006

9. Forrester Research Inc.


11. Mintel Internet Quarterly Report, June 2006



14. Communications of the Association for Information Systems (Volume 10, 2003)