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Mobile Devices Fuel French Ecommerce

Smartphone owners are more likely to shop and buy online than those without mobile devices

January 10, 2014

It’s well known that smartphones and tablets help drive internet access and engagement. But in France, mobile devices are also spurring rising levels of ecommerce, according to October 2013 polling by Ifop.

The study, conducted for Bonial, sampled over 1,000 adult consumers representative of France’s population. Among its main conclusions: Increasingly, France’s consumers are multidevice users, and in particular, those mobile devices increase their propensity to shop and buy online.

Of those surveyed, 89% of internet users shopped on the web at least annually. The response rate was higher if respondents were high-income earners and if they owned multiple devices. Among smartphone or tablet users, 70% said they bought online at least monthly, compared with 62% of the wider population.

Frequency with Which Internet Users in France Make Digital Purchases, Oct 2013 (% of respondents)

Digital sources were the “first port of call” for 46% of the country’s shoppers researching potential purchases. This pattern was more marked in the case of specialist retail stores, such as those carrying electronics (65%), sporting goods (51%) and furniture (44%). Interestingly, search engines were no longer the starting point for a majority of smartphone and tablet owners looking online as part of their shopping process. Instead, no matter the product they planned to purchase, their “first reflex” was to use an app, 57% said.

Mobile shopping behaviors are becoming quite varied, too. Over one-third of smartphone or tablet users said they researched a product at least weekly on their device, and 29% compared prices for a specific product. Over half of mobile users compared different products, looked for a nearby store, checked store hours or checked a store catalog at least monthly.

Shopping-Related Activities that Internet Users in France Conduct via Smartphone/Tablet, by Frequency, Oct 2013 (% of respondents)

Despite embracing these new mobile possibilities, respondents did reveal an abiding trust in well-known retailers. Over three-quarters of consumers said that given the choice, they would rather buy from a traditional retailer with physical stores, even if they made a purchase on the store’s website. That proportion was unchanged from 2012.

Overall, Ifop’s results provide firm encouragement for France’s online sellers to put their digital houses in order if they haven’t already. eMarketer estimates that 30.5 million people in the country will own and use a smartphone this year, while the number of tablet users will reach 19.5 million.

Tablet Users in France, 2012-2017

These consumers will expect comprehensive mobile services that make digital shopping and buying easier and more pleasant—and will likely reward retailers that provide those options with greater loyalty and higher spending.


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