The 20 most popular retailers and e-commerce players of France

04 June 2018 5 min. read

Decathlon, Cultura and Picard are France’s most popular retailers, according to a study by OC&C Strategy Consultants. US online giant Amazon is the first foreign brand in the top 30 favourite retailers of the French, with Swedish player IKEA, Spanish fashion conglomerate Zara, and Apple’s Apple Store the only other non-French names to have made the list.

France’s favourite retailers have been identified in a new study, with Amazon losing the top spot after two consecutive years at number one. The French sports goods distributor Decathlon has been crowned the king of retail for the French public, having come in at sixth place last year. 

The study takes into account multiple factors which include a score of price, variety, service, and reputation, and then amalgamates the results into an overall rating. The scores are then compiled into a ranking with more than 650 brands from around the world, including over 120 from France itself. 

OC&C – an international strategy consulting firm which has conducted the research for seven years running – found that the best performing brands enjoyed an increase in consumer confidence. Between the top 50 brands, the gap in scores has however closed. This highlights, according to the authors, the fragility of past leaders in their unquestioned position at the top of the retail market. For example, Amazon, which was unhinged from its leading position, is facing growing competition from brands fighting for a larger share of the market. 

The brands which are positioned in the top 50 list have typically developed a superiority in a specific specialisation within a particular product category. More general retailers and discount stores have struggled this year, with both facing a lack of perceived quality and a lower level of consumer confidence in relation to previous years. 

Decathlon has moved up six places in the past year to claim the number one spot. According to the researchers, Decathlon’s success over the past year builds on strong performance in the categories which consumers find most important: quality-to-price ratio and buying convenience. The company has put the most crucial aspect of consumer value at the heart of its business strategy – value for money – which brought Decathlon to the top of OC&C’s 2018 ranking.

The 20 most popular retailers and e-commerce players of FranceThe retailer stocks a wide range of sporting equipment, usually in large department stores, and also operates in the digital market space. The Decathlon Group also owns its own brands and has a number of research and development facilities across the country. Demonstrating its innovation power, the company is granted roughly 40 patents each year with a focus on product innovation and product design.

Cultura, the French creativity and lifestyle retailer came in at number two having climbed three spots since the 2017 ranking. The improvements were based on gains across three categories including quality, customer service and range. Food retailer Picard has retained the third step on the podium thanks to the high level of quality which the retailer offers its customers. Warehouse Fnac ranks fourth.

Amazon now ranks as the fifth favourite French retailer according to the report, having lost its foothold and demonstrating that the company is “not rock solid”. Whilst the brand retains its title in areas where Amazon is traditionally strong (online experience, choice, convenience and customer needs), it slid 12 points on quality and 2 points on pricing. This equated in a drop in customer trust in the brand and coincided with its forfeiture of the top spot. 

“Amazon loses a little on the criterion of the quality of service and even more on the price-quality ratio,” said David de Matteis, a Partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants. He added that the company is arguably facing a too broad product catalogue, with over product 200 million combinations available. “Amazon offers a large and rich range of items which may harm the perception of what is the right choice for customers.”

The value of price

Commenting on the results of the report, David de Matteis said; “The price criterion is important because the consumer no longer wants to compromise on quality. The level of consumer demand has risen [and these trends are] a strong signal for the entire retail sector.” 

For Matteis, price transparency is a greater influence on the customer’s habits, effecting retailers like Amazon who thrive on lower quality but higher quantity. Amazon is still high in the rankings for price, their shortcoming however is the adequacy of the offer which they present the customer. Amazon also have over 70 of their own private brands but have had some trouble with design and relevancy. 

Matteis goes on to give an example: “if the customer looking for a specific product, say a Lego of 35 pieces for example, then the customer will be satisfied with Amazon, but if anyone does not have a specific gift in mind for their nephew then they will be not offered a relevant selection of gifts.”

Closing the top ten are Sephora, Grand Frais, Yves Rocher, Leroy Merlin and IKEA. Other brands which can call themselves one of the 20 most popular retailers and e-commerce players of France are Nocibé, Thiriet, Galeries Lafayette, Boulanger, Jardiland, Etam, KIKO, Leclerc, Auchan and Petit Bateau.