Does the Covid-19 crisis mark a turning point for the French e-commerce landscape, so far scandalously dominated by the giant Amazon? Yes, if we refer to the data Kantar published last March. According to the research institute, Amazon, with an estimated business volume of 8.3 billion euros in France in 2020, is growing “only” by 8%. This is three times less than the total market for the sale of physical goods, which increased by 24% to EUR 43.3 billion. For Kantar analysts, one reason lies in “the click and mortar dynamics,” these companies that have developed e-commerce alongside their brands. “They prioritized their websites while their stores were temporarily closed,” Kantar says. Result: Amazon’s market share in France in value decreases by three points in 2020, from 22% to 19% and from 19% to 16% if we include supermarkets.
According to Pascal Malotti, head of strategy at the Valtech France agency, the health crisis has led to “an explosion of e-commerce. Two or three years ago we talked about a glass ceiling. It grew only 1% a year. He experienced that in eight to nine weeks, fifteen to sixteen years of progress,” he notes. Faced with this “systemic” effect, some were ready, such as Nike. “This brand already had control in its hands by leaving Amazon and developing its own tools by the expansion of its physical stores and the creation of mobile applications. Today 40% of its turnover comes from its own distribution”, notes Pascal Malotti. On the other hand, other players were forced to build an e-commerce site more quickly and develop the logistics that are essential is for a correct user experience. According to him, there is no longer a discussion for everyone about the need for brands to develop their merchant sites. “Their goal is that e-commerce tomorrow Pascal Malotti emphasizes between 20 and 40% of their turnover, also in luxury. But once this observation is made, a whole series of questions arise: what can e-commerce bring, how can the artifacts of physical commerce be recreated online, how to connect the latter with online…”, he sums up.
Faced with challenges, brands must find answers quickly. They have regained control with the crisis, they could lose it just as quickly with the announced return to normal. An e-commerce specialist, Émilie Franchineau, associate director of the Carat agency, sees the new deal as “a great opportunity”, with a big challenge: “A lot of new consumers have come to brand sites, now we have to keep them”, she say. Several projects are open to advertisers. “The first is the brand, the brand, the brand,” she says, explaining that branding is the priority if you want to perpetuate your site. But communicating about your brand is not enough. Émilie Franchineau points to the need to improve conversion paths. “At Amazon, the journey is fluid. That of many brands is not yet perfect. They should be inspired by marketplaces to provide the same experience with the aim of the customer validating their basket without even realizing it,” she notes. Next, the brands have to develop the impulse buying part, this time taking inspiration from the experiments carried out on social networks in the field of live shopping. Finally, through omnichannel, they also need to “reconcile the physical and the digital”, especially in the area of customer data. Lionel Curt, president of the MNSTR agency, takes a sharp look at how traditional brands are handling the real issue of selling online. “While they fully invest in their branded content, they lag behind when it comes to sales itself,” he notes. He had the bitter experience of this himself when he searched for a pair of touring skis on the Salomon brand’s website, and ended up buying them in stores because the product sales pitch posted online seemed disappointing to him. This situation contrasts for this manager with the model of digital native vertical brands (DNVB), these famous brands that were born on the net and that appear in his eyes as “perfect sellers”. And to cite the example of the Asphalte brand, among others. “In two seconds you know what’s wrong with T-shirts in general, why hers are the best, why she has them made in Europe…”, he admires.
The decisive quality of the site
Thomas Camille, Managing Director of the Pataugas brand (Hopps Group) is aware of these issues related to online sales. It launched a new, faster and smoother website, most notably by adding new, more secure payment bricks. “The product sheets are also much more complete and we are working on a more immersive version with the ambition to showcase 20% of our products on video this winter,” he says. The quality of the site is decisive as the weight of the e-commerce activity becomes predominant. By 2021, Pataugas’ online sales on its own site and on marketplace sites should exceed 35% of its revenue. Whining his neck at the idea of having to choose between his branded site and marketplaces, he believes that “specialized platforms such as Zalando, Sarenza or Spartoo are essential, both for the performance they offer and for being part of a fashion ecosystem. We are not in the culture of “or” but that of “and”, which makes it possible to have the maximum number of outlets and possible contact points,” he argues. The Amazons and others may not have their last word said.