An overwhelming majority of adult internet users now buy online, with clothes and leisure items the leading purchase categories. Mcommerce, however, is lagging, with most digital buying still taking place at home, on desktop PCs.
Digital shopping is now commonplace in France, according to a study from Microsoft’s Bing Adscarried out by research institute Ifop in February 2016. More than half (53%) of internet users polled said they frequently bought goods or services online, with a further 28% making a digital purchase every two or three months. Only 19% said they bought on the internet less than twice a year.
The research also found that 74% of web users had bought clothing via digital channels, making it the top product category among France’s digital buyers. Leisure items weren’t far behind, with 70% of digital buyers completing such purchases. Many other types of products and services now change hands online as well. About two-thirds of the sample had made travel or tourism bookings, and at least 55% bought consumer electronics, home furnishings, household appliances, health and beauty products or other services.
When it came to their online search habits, fully 43% of respondents said they used search engines while shopping. Moreover, 26% said they were especially sensitive to visual images within search results, and 38% said they wanted to see products before clicking through to a retailer’s site.
Of course screen size is an issue for any brand planning to use visual elements in this way. But France’s advertisers have little to worry about on this score, at least in the short term. Desktop PCs remain the preferred device for digital transactions; 87% of respondents said they used it most often to make purchases. Similarly, 98% of those polled said they tended to shop at home, rather than on the move or at work.
As these figures suggest, mcommerce isn’t yet a mainstream activity in France. Overall, just one in 20 digital shoppers said a smartphone was their most-used device for digital purchases, and 8% said they bought most with their tablet.
Why aren’t more of France’s consumers taking up mobile buying? The Bing Ads and Ifop survey noted three major barriers. Data privacy was the top concern; 46% of web users polled said they worried about the security of their personal information. But online sellers were also failing consumers in other ways: 39% of respondents said many retailers’ websites weren’t well adapted for mobile shoppers, and 35% said the available payment options made little or no provision for mobile customers.