In full growth for about fifteen years, the actors of the electronic commerce are found from Monday, September 12 at the exhibition “E-Commerce Paris”.
The emergence of electronic commerce has transformed consumers’ buying habits, making them more “expert” but also more and more solicited.
New technologies sometimes unexpectedly transform the use of our most common objects. For many French, a simple bed has metamorphosed into a gigantic commercial avenue: in fact, a fashion purchase out of five made online by 18-34 years is made … head on the pillow, according to a study conducted in 2016 by Ifop for the DigitasLBI agency.
As the “E-Commerce Paris” trade fair opens today for three days, it is clear that the practice of buying on the Internet has become an ordinary practice. To each his own way of doing his shopping: his room or kitchen, in front of his computer or from a smartphone, alone or with family, friends, everyone at home but gathered by the phone or even during office hours …
“The turnover of e-commerce grew by almost 15% in 2015, and the trend should be similar this year, says François Momboisse, president of the Federation e-commerce and distance selling (Fevad). Now, over 80% of people with Internet access say they have already bought online. ”
An open store across the planet
The wave of e-commerce, which began to break in the late 1990s, has swept the habits of consumers of all ages. “E-commerce has brought a sense of power and freedom to users,” says Philippe Moati, co-founder of the Observatoire Société et Consumption (Obscoco). “A simple click instantly opens up entire stores for millions of stores across the globe seven days a week.”
This freedom, this almost complete range of choices not found in a physical store – as well as the resulting time savings – are often cited as a “revolution” by buyers, who are happy to escape for example, long waits at railway stations or SNCF shops.
“With two children and a work schedule expandable, I do not know how I could do without e-commerce”, welcomesNoemie (1), a thirty-year-old who lives in the Paris region and says to book almost only moments of shopping in real shops “for pleasure shopping”.
E-commerce facilitates the independence of older people
The habit of buying online has conquered all age groups, including the most refractory at the start: 75% of Internet users over 65 use their connection for purchases, according to the Fevad. In fact, for Serge Guérin, a specialist in aging issues and professor at Inseec Business School Paris, e-commerce can facilitate the independence of older people.
“Some people no longer need to solicit their loved ones to help them go shopping, which could turn into real expeditions as some neighborhoods are deprived of physical stores,” he says, recalling however that online shopping can not always replace relational contact with traders.
“E-commerce makes life easier for everyone who can not easily move,” says Lise (1), whose mother, octogenarian, walks with difficulty. “My mom would feel cut off from an important part of life if she had not been taught to buy online. ”
The formation of a “collective intelligence of consumers”
The spread of e-commerce has also revolutionized the relationship between consumers, brands and retailers. “In a way, it has allowed the formation of a collective consumer intelligence,” says Philippe Moati. From now on, potential buyers look at opinions, feedback. And if they go to a store, they feel more knowledgeable than the so-called expert sellers. ”
Some major business sites have understood this and are organizing online conversations about the items they are selling. “Professionals have admitted that the only dimension of exchanging a good or a service for money was not enough anymore,” says Stéphane Hugon, a university consumer scientist and founder of the Eranos research firm.
“The importance of conversations between buyers and the presence of brands on social networks show that the act of consuming is always accompanied by a desire for social connection and a need for pleasure, which the Physical trade had sometimes forgotten. ”
More responsible consumption
The emergence of the Internet has also favored another form of consumption, which is more responsible. Soline, a young mother, says she is buying more and more products from second-hand equipment sales sites.
“It allows me to control my budget, but it is also an ethical approach, a reaction to a society where we throw rather than give a second life to objects,” she says.
Éric Fouquier, of the Théma company, is convinced of this: the proliferation of this type of site has materialized a desire to consume more ethically and has changed our relationship to objects. “The price remains a motivation more important than the desire to recycle objects, he admits, but it is undeniable that more and more people are also happy to consume more responsible.”
The risk of overconsumption
However, these second-hand sites can also encourage shopping frenzy. The manager of a brand of cheap furniture recognizes that second-hand trade is for him an ally. “People do not hesitate to buy, then sell, then buy,” he says.
For many specialists in the sector, e-commerce in itself carries the criteria for promoting hyper-consumption. “With the ability to buy at any time, people can succumb to temptation,” says economist Philippe Moati.
He even believes that consumers are far from having “been released” from sales professionals. “Certainly, they are much more knowledgeable and smarter than ever before, but the sites have increasingly sophisticated and personalized sales techniques, thanks to all the information we leave on the Internet,” he says. We are subject to over-solicitation, and this offer often comes at the most opportune time. ”
Ultimately, the act of purchase is facilitated by the simplification efforts on online payment methods made by the sites: they make the settlement stage “almost painless”, according to Philippe Moati, “at least ‘a psychological point of view’.
835 million transactions
Online sales generated in 2015 a turnover of nearly 65 billion euros, according to the figures of the Federation e-commerce and distance selling. Although growing by about 15% a year, e-commerce represents “only” 7% of the retail trade.
35.5 million French people bought online in 2015, for a total of 835 million transactions.
The number of active merchant sites increased from 64,000 in 2009 to 182,000 by the end of 2015.
The five most visited commercial sites in France are Amazon with more than 18 million unique visitors per month (the unique visitor is only counted once even if he returns to the site several times), Cdiscount (11, 2 million), Fnac (9.3 million), eBay (8.1 million) and Voyages-sncf (6.4 million).
Adult and child clothing, technical products and appliances, and the travel and tourism sector are the three main types of goods and services purchased from a computer.