Since the UK is no longer part of the EU, many British merchants are confronting the obstacles and challenges brought about by Brexit. There have been several operational changes which have made cross-border trade more difficult than before (both expected and unexpected). Worth an estimated $101 billion, the UK is the largest market in Europe – making The Agreement something that businesses cannot ignore.
One of the increasingly popular solutions for UK businesses wanting to thrive in Europe post-Brexit is taking advantage of fulfilment services, such as those offered by Cdiscount, the leading French marketplace. By storing your products in their warehouse, Cdiscount removes the logistical burden from your business by ensuring products are ready to be sold and shipped to any customer in Europe. This allows your business to thrive in the region with ease, removing complications such as tax regulations that would normally slow you down.
As part of the Retail Without Borders Digital Series, host Dilyana Gramadarova (also Head of Partnerships at RWB) was joined by a special guest in an exclusive webinar to explore the topic of cross-border trade post-Brexit. Joining us from Cdiscount was Mathieu Paulien-Iribarren, International Partnership Developer. Working closely with partners and marketplace sellers across the world, Mathieu has extensive knowledge on ecommerce businesses and the challenges they face. Also an expert on Cdiscount and the French market, Mathieu aids merchants to maximise their selling potential.
In this session led by Dilyana, Mathieu shared his insights on multiple topics. What does the French ecommerce landscape look like in terms of categories, trends and opportunities? How can you upgrade your product sheet to maximise sales? How can Cdiscount’s fulfilment solution be utilised to overcome Brexit challenges? What are Mathieu’s top tips in order to succeed on the Cdiscount marketplace? All of this and more was discussed in this exclusive RWB webinar.
The French Market
To begin with, Mathieu provided us with a bit of background information about France: “The French market is the second biggest market in Europe just after Germany with more than €100million of sales in 2020”. This shows the sheer scale of the ecommerce market in France. To continue, there are approximately 65 million people in France, with around 68% (44.2 million) of them being online consumers that have the ability to buy on the internet. According to Mathieu, those 44.2 million internet users spend an average of €2500 online per year. To provide a benchmark, the average in the rest of Europe is around €1500, so this gives some context regarding the scale of the French market and why it is the second largest in Europe.
Furthermore, due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the ecommerce market has seen huge growth – the largest of which is being done by marketplaces with more than 20% growth in the last year, according to Mathieu. He also clarified that not only is that the case for the French market in general, but it’s also the case for Cdiscount too. To better understand Cdiscount’s position in the market, they are the first French marketplace and currently Amazon’s only competitor in France. As Mathieu points out, “that’s represented by the monthly tracking of 24 million visitors on the marketplace, which represents a bit more than 1 in 2 French online consumers being present on Cdiscount.” Overall, Cdiscount has “10 million active clients monthly and almost 5000 worldwide active sellers coming from at least 70 different countries”.
Mathieu’s Tips for Success on Cdiscount
So we now have an idea of the size of the French market and Cdiscount’s position within it. But what kind of impacts has Brexit had on UK businesses and what is Mathieu’s advice for merchants who want to be successful on marketplaces? According to Mathieu, “last year and this year, we are seeing less UK sellers in the French market generally, but that’s just because of Brexit and the ‘wait and see’ position.” It’s certainly true that uncertainty and fear of the unknown have affected cross-border trade, with many businesses waiting to see what will happen with new regulations. However, Mathieu does mention that “UK sellers who have been onboarded last year have multiplied their GMV by 5x from one year to the next.” Therefore, there are definitely still massive opportunities within the European market, so what can a business do to be successful on Cdiscount?
In Mathieu’s opinion, the most important aspect that every seller has to nail is making your product visible and attractive. Not only does it have to be visually striking and catch the eye of the buyer, but it must also contain all of the information that the buyer needs in order to make a decision (and crucially, choose your product over another). Therefore, you need to focus on the descriptions as well as the titles, with neither being too long or too short (at risk of either not giving enough information or giving too much).
In addition, images are key; rather than just having one photo, it’s much better to include several. On Cdiscount for example, you can have four pictures which allow you to upload images showing the product’s context for more visibility. Mathieu importantly points out that once all of these steps are done, it’s necessary to upgrade them. This involves making your listing different from the others, including the likes of “adding six extra pictures, a video frame, tutorials and specific criteria for the filters within the marketplace.”
Once all of that is done, Mathieu claims that they observe +51% of sales for an upgraded product sheet compared with a normal product sheet, which of course is huge. Not only is the product sheet your visibility, it’s also your credibility on the internet – it will help you win the trust of buyers. In a similar vein, ratings are very important as well, essentially forming a direct channel to communicate with buyers. According to Matthieu, 68% of French people prefer to buy products from listings with both positive and negative ratings, as this allows them to make their own choice; a product sheet without any ratings will inspire less trust than one with both.
Fulfilment with Cdiscount
The final main topic that Mathieu dived into was his advice for UK sellers in terms of logistics and how to be efficient when it comes to fulfilment. To begin with, one of the most important things to remember is to have some of your stock in Europe, whether that be France or Germany etc. This is the most basic step – having at least part of your stock there to be able to handle the logistics and sales. This will allow you to have less issues with tax regulations, letting you focus more on the sales side and less on logistics.
For this purpose, Cdiscount has fulfilment centres which are really important when it comes to success. As Mathieu mentions, “today one of the keys of ecommerce is to deliver as fast as possible and offer as many shipping methods as possible.” Therefore, Cdiscount provides sellers with multiple options for their customers such as standard delivery, express delivery (within the same day), within 48 hours etc. Cdiscount can also ship on demand where the customer can choose a specific day and time slot, which allows for even more flexibility.
Another option that exists in France is pick up points, which is one of the most used transportation methods according to Mathieu. In terms of Cdiscount’s offering, their fulfilment centres handle all of the storage, shipping and customer service – so in essence it is a comprehensive solution. All you have to do as a seller is send your product to Cdiscount and let them do the rest.
To round off the discussion, Dilyana raised a very relevant topic that is increasingly at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds: sustainability. Is Cdiscount making an effort within their business to make their practices more sustainable? The short answer is yes. According to Mathieu, “it’s very important to us and since the last five or six years we have really improved, making less of an impact on the environment.” One example that Mathieu gives is a particular type of machine that they have in their warehouses. This machine takes a package and adapts the box to the size of the product and the benefit of this is twofold.
Firstly, there is less waste because less packaging is being used. Secondly, since the boxes are smaller you can fit more of them into a truck, meaning lower average carbon emissions. Indeed, Mathieu notes that “every year this results in 30% less trucks being used on French and European roads.” In addition, Cdiscount uses high-speed trains for their same-day express delivery which also have less of an impact on the environment than trucks, given that the trains are electric.
Furthermore, Cdiscount is at the beginning stages of implementing reusable packaging which is of course a massive step, and Mathieu mentions plans to expand this. Finally, Mathieu noted that Cdiscount also has an initiative in which they plant trees in an attempt to tackle carbon emissions. So overall, it’s clear that being sustainable is definitely a core aim for Cdiscount.
To conclude, this webinar was a great session to garner an insight into Brexit, Cdiscount and the French ecommerce market. To begin with, we got an idea of the sheer scale of the ecommerce market in France (being the second largest after Germany) as well as some of the impacts that the pandemic has had on business. Mathieu then provided his advice for marketplace sellers in terms of maximising the chances that buyers will be attracted to your product listing, thus increasing your visibility and your sales.
Next, we got a deeper look into Cdiscount and how their comprehensive fulfilment solution can handle everything for you as a seller – taking care of logistics post-Brexit and allowing you to focus on driving those sales. Finally, Mathieu shared Cdiscount’s goals and initiatives targeted at improving sustainability, giving us a look behind the curtain at some of the ways in which even the largest of companies can be more eco-friendly.
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