May 18, 2012, 9:07 AM

Work doesn’t prevent French women from shopping online

Working French women shop on the web as much as those who stay at home.

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Nearly all women Internet users in France between the ages of 20 and 60 shop online, according to a study sponsored by eBay Inc. The survey was conducted by CSA, a French polling institute that that conducts research on technology and shopping trends throughout Europe.

The February survey contained two samples of women: 503 working women and 502 women who stay at home, says Monica Holden Graber, head of the consumer division at CSA.

97% of working women and 98% of women at home buy online, Holden Graber says, and half of all women polled say they purchase online at least once a month.        

The study found working women spend more time shopping online than those who stay at home—five hours a week compared to four. “Possibly because women at home are busy with children or shopping, or playing golf or backgammon,” Holden Graber says.

The poll shows single female consumers buy mainly for themselves, while mothers buy mainly for their children. More than 45% of all women interviewed say they primarily shop online for themselves, with the rest saying they mainly shop for husbands or partners, children, and other family members.

Clothing is the most common item that French women purchase online (71% of both working and stay-at-home females buy apparel), followed by books, music and entertainment products (59% for both) and cosmetics (50% for working women, 54% for women at home). Only 16% of women at home, and 18% of working women use e-commerce sites for grocery shopping.

Many French women stick close to home when shopping online. 49% of working women and 53% of women at home shop only with French e-retailers, 19% and 15% respectively buy from international web merchants occasionally, 28% and 29% hardly ever, and 4% and 3% never.

When it comes to mobile commerce, about 15% of all women have used smartphones for online purchases, and 5% of women at home, and 9% of women at work, use tablets, while around 80% of women have never used either. 

According to French e-commerce association Fevad, the numbers of French women shopping online rose 17% over the last year—and women now make up half of France’s 31 million online shoppers. Half of France’s 40 million Internet users are women, according to web audience measurement company, Médiamétrie,.

Shipping fees and customer service after the sale are a thorn in the side for this increasingly powerful e-commerce consumer group, Holden Graber says—and 65% of all women in the poll report headaches with delivery.

Women would like to be informed of shipping fees early in the checkout process, before they spend time entering shipping and payment card information, Holden Graber notes. Many also say they want to get their products more quickly and pay lower shipping fees.

They would also like clearer information on merchants’ return policies, she adds.

Lastly, French women would also like the option to pick up orders in convenient locations that they visit every day, Holden Graber says.

“They want the greater flexibility of not having to wait around for goods, but they don’t necessarily want to have to make a trip to the store either,” she says. “Possibly somewhere else like the local coffee shop or news agency could be the pick-up point.”

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