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France’s consumers don’t yet match the UK in their zeal for digital shopping and buying—eMarketer estimates that 71.8% of internet users in France ages 14 and older will be digital buyers in 2016, compared with 89.0% in the UK—but the internet is well and truly reshaping the French retail landscape, according to Ingenico Group, a provider of integrated payment solutions. Its report on buying habits, "Le Comportements d'Achat des Français," is based on an Opinea survey of over 1,000 internet users ages 18 to 70 in January 2016.
Nearly two-thirds of all online adults polled were digital buyers, the study found—though the proportion was markedly higher among women (74%) than among men (57%).
The bigger story is that retail is now omnichannel—and in more than one way. For a start, most web users in France now go online with multiple devices—three, on average—and half of all adults in this survey used at least two devices to shop. Perhaps surprisingly, females set the pace for mobile shopping; while 42% of males said they preferred to shop and buy via desktop PC, just 33% of females agreed.
Second, consumers are combining digital and in-store shopping as never before. One in 10 of those polled said they typically researched in a store and bought online, while 22% usually did online research and bought in a store. But the remaining 69% said they used these two options interchangeably.
Third, delivery options are proliferating, and consumers now make specific choices—such as home or workplace delivery, click and collect, or visiting a local collection point—based on the type of goods ordered, timings and other factors. As a result, 64% of consumers said they used between two and four different methods of receiving their orders.
Accustomed to such a wide range of digital options, consumers have become more demanding in physical stores. Abandonment of in-store carts is a growing problem, for example, because shoppers are used to high product availability online. Fully 77% of respondents said they’d abandoned a purchase at least once in their previous 10 visits to a store, because the desired item was out of stock. Almost all (96%) of those who’d had that experience said they would welcome ordering the item in store at that point, and having it delivered to their home.
Waiting to pay in a store was another turn-off for people used to rapid online checkout. Over half (52%) of those polled said they had given up on a purchase for this reason at least once in their last 10 shopping sessions. Women, shoppers ages 18 to 34 and residents of the Paris area were more likely to lose patience. In those demographic groups, respondents had abandoned purchases between 2 and 3 times, on average, in the course of their last 10 store visits. Among males, older shoppers and those outside Paris, the average abandonment rate was 1.5 in 10.
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