E-commerce grows rapidly in France

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PARIS--France's top e-commerce Internet directory has passed the 1,000-site threshold and continues growing at a rate of 10 to 15 sites per week.

The number of sites offering French-language e-commerce services grew by more than 30% in the second quarter of 1999, according to ImagiNet, French multi-media subsidiary of Colt Telecom, which runs the Internetdirectory WebMarchand.

Some 951 sites offered French-language e-commerce services as of June 30, 904 of which are based in France, according to ImagiNet. To qualify as a French e-commerce vendor, sites must be capable of taking orders online, in French, for delivery in France.

Given France's reputation for gastronomy, it is hardly surprising thatsites offering food and drink top the list of French e-commerce categories. All told, 182 sites, or 19% of all sites surveyed, fall into the food and drink category.

Sites offering multi-media products -- including computer hardware, software and games -- form the second largest category, with 176 sites or 18.5% of all sites surveyed.

Books, compact discs and videocassettes, available at 142 sites, or nearly 15% of all sites surveyed, comprise the third-largest e-commercecategory in France, followed by fashion items, home decoration materials,online malls, business-to-business services, tourism, beauty and health products and news.

Eighty-four percent of all sites allow transactions entirely online, while 67% offer secure connections for payment, according to the survey.

ImagiNet reports steady advertising interest in the WebMarchand directory. The company, in partnership with online advertising service DoubleClick, has hosted some 50 site or category-specific campaigns in the past year, according to ImagiNet Communications Director Patrice Marguerie.

"One of the most interesting about WebMarchand is that people come to visit but also to buy,'' Mr. Marguerie says. "The growing levels of shopping volume has convinced advertisers using WebMarchand to move away from mass-market placements to specifically targeted campaigns in one of our 21 product categories,'' he says.

Copyright September 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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