The number of French people going online to make purchases in 2012 is up on last year. The increase is due to growing confidence in e-commerce and the rising popularity of mobile devices, plus a strong boost from women shoppers.

Online Shopping Gains Ground in France

In France, one Internet visitor in two actually makes purchases online, a number which is much higher than last year. Figures recently published by the Observatoire des Usages Internet de Médiamétrie, an ongoing monthly telephone survey of Internet usage in France, show that 47% of all web users bought something online during March, compared with 43% in the same month in 2011. In the first quarter of 2012, 31 million people bought online, an 11% increase versus first-quarter 2011, representing an additional 3 million e-buyers. Marc Lolivier, Director General of the French Federation of E-commerce & Distance Selling (Fevad), who is quoted in the report, sees this as a substantial increase. Moreover, "e-commerce in France continues to grow faster than the number of Internet users. Not only are more and more French consumers making purchases online, they are also using the Internet to make greater numbers of their purchases," he underlines.

Consumers going mobile

The reason for this considerable growth in e-purchases seems to be largely that people are becoming more confident in the online channel. Some 67.7% of all Internet users now say they trust online shopping, i.e. 6% more than the previous year. And people also appear to trust their mobile devices, the study showing that they are being used more and more for e-consumption and that mobile shoppers now number 4.3 million. However, these devices are not the only platform used by online consumers. The tablet also seems to be a popular tool for online purchasing. The Panel Tablettes (Tablet Panel) study surveyed 1,000 iPad users. Some 82% of them said they use their tablets to visit general stores’ websites or make use of their applications, while 76% use them to access shopping guides or online comparison sites.

More and more women shopping online

The research indicates that online shoppers basically show an early-adopter profile, 62% of them being aged 35 or over and 47% of them echeloned in the upper socio-professional categories. And while the tablet user population is predominantly male, the percentage of women who use tablets for online shopping (36%) is greater than their share of tablet usage in general (33%). However, this female consumer-phenomenon extends beyond tablets, with the overall number of women e-consumers rising by 17% in one year. Looking at other trends, there are now some 22% more online consumers aged 65 or over than there were this time last year and the number of e-shoppers in France outside the Paris region was also up 12% from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012.