This post is by Géric Javid of ecommerce software company Boostmyshop.
Cdiscount is one of the largest and most important ecommerce web sites in France. With sales of €2 billion in 2020, it is a giant in the industry.
Not only that, the Cdiscount marketplace is less competitive than Amazon France, and it is active in recruiting and supporting international sellers.
Read on to learn more about Cdiscount, and decide whether it is a marketplace that you could benefit from selling on.
How big is Cdiscount and what does it sell?
Founded in 1998, Cdiscount is one of the largest ecommerce companies in France. Cdiscount was initially a retailer selling only its own goods, then launched its own marketplace in 2011.
Since 2000, it has been a subsidiary of Groupe Casino, a French retail group established over 100 years ago. Today, Casino has operations in Europe, South America and South Asia and annual net sales of €32 billion.
Casino created a new company, Cnova, in June 2014 to consolidate all its ecommerce activities, including Cdiscount. Cnova and Cdiscount-branded websites are now present in 12 countries with a total turnover of €4.2 billion in 2020 (including marketplace sales), up 8.6% compared to 2019.
Headline statistics about Cdiscount in France:
- 2020 turnover of €2.2 billion
- 23.4 million unique visitors per month
- 40 broad categories and 2000 subcategories
- 100 million products
- 13,000 pro sellers on the marketplace
Overall, Cdiscount is the second-largest ecommerce website in France, after Amazon (source: FEVAD) and it continues to grow strongly. With 13,000 pro sellers and €2 billion of sales, it’s marketplace is particularly strong.
Cdiscount is a catalog-driven marketplace, selling items in almost all product categories except fresh food. Categories include:
- DVD, Blu-rays, books and music
- Computers, photography, phones and audio-visual equipment
- Appliances, homewares and furnishings
- Delicatessen, wine and alcohol
- Fashion, cosmetics, baby products and jewelry
- Musical instruments, pet products and luggage
Why sell on Cdiscount?
The French ecommerce market is the third-largest in Europe behind the UK and Germany. Cdiscount has been a leader in French ecommerce for many years, although recently it was surpassed by Amazon.fr. But Cdiscount is less competitive, with approximately three times fewer sellers than Amazon.
For several years, Cdiscount has engaged in a major policy of recruiting foreign sellers, and engages in partnerships to help international vendors integrate with its marketplace. Partnerships include:
- Salesupply for customer service and returns processing
- WorldFirst for foreign exchange
- Lionbridge and InterCultural Elements for translation
- Meridian Global Services for VAT
- Boxtal for logistics
Encouraging and supporting cross-border trade is a major part of Cdiscount’s strategy.
Who buys from Cdiscount?
Over the years, Cdiscount has developed a reputation for having the lowest prices, so tends to attract price-conscious consumers. Only the best price is shown to shoppers in the equivalent to Amazon’s Buy Box – other factors are not taken into account.
Cdiscount is particularly strong in high-tech products and computing, and is popular among young technology enthusiasts.
Buyers can collect their orders through the Groupe Casino store network, providing more than 2000 parcel collection points throughout France. This is particularly important for convenience and to save on delivery charges for heavy goods.
How do you set up as a seller on Cdiscount?
Professional sellers with a valid VAT number can apply to sell on Cdiscount. Prior approval is required, and can be requested by email or by completing the online form (an English-language version is available by clicking on the flag at the top right).
Cdiscount reserves the right to accept or reject an application, and the specific acceptance criteria are confidential. Once registered as a professional seller, the account is activated.
Cdiscount requires sellers to have French-language customer support by email, but you can use a third-party service for this, like Salesupply mentioned above. French-language phone support is not required.
For returns, sellers need a return address in France, or can send a prepaid shipping label or pay for the cost of an international return.
How do you sell on Cdiscount?
The seller interface is available online or through an API. The listing process depends on whether or not your products are already listed in the Cdiscount catalog.
For catalog products, you need to set the selling price, condition (new or used), and the level of available stock. As soon as inventory is added, it appears on the Cdiscount site and is visible to customers. Flash sales can be set up in advance by specifying the sale period and level of discount.
For products that are not already in the catalog, you can send a file by email or the Cdiscount API. In either case, Cdiscount integrates new product information themselves. Sellers don’t have a hand in the process as they do on the Amazon marketplace
There is a monthly subscription of €39.99, then a variable commission between 4.5% and 20% depending on the product category. The commission is charged on the total amount of the transaction including shipping.
When an order is placed, an email is sent to the seller. The order should be processed within two working days. The order amount is debited from the buyer’s account as soon as the seller confirms the product is available.
To receive sales proceeds, sellers should have:
- A valid bank account registered.
- No selling fees outstanding to Cdiscount.
Customer complaints and refunds also affect the balance available for payment to the seller.
Customer support, returns and refunds
As mentioned above, Cdiscount requires customer service to be provided in French.
There are a number of different claims that can be made by shoppers:
- Item not received. Cdiscount recommends taking this up with the parcel carrier, and providing a refund or replacement to the customer as soon as possible.
- Item not as described. Cdiscount expects the seller to accept a return and refund the order.
- Item is defective. The customer should request a return of the product, and the seller should provide a refund or replacement product.
- Returns for any other reason. In France, the customer has a legal right to return their item within 15 calendar days of delivery. The seller must refund the amount paid less return costs.
- Counterfeit item claims. It is strictly forbidden to sell counterfeit items on Cdiscount. In this case, sellers will be required to refund the customer and will have their account terminated.
Cdiscount mediates when there are disputes between buyers and sellers. Like Amazon, it tends to side with the buyer most of the time.
Cdiscount does not have a concept of seller performance in the same way as the Amazon marketplace, and performance is not a factor in calculating which seller gets the “Buy Box”. Price is the only factor, however it does take shipping into account and if the item is fulfilled by Cdiscount it will assume free shipping, even if the buyer is not a member of Cdiscount à Volonté (more on that below).
However, Cdiscount does monitor the performance of sellers and if too many complaints are received the seller will be suspended quickly (the exact trigger level is not known).
Although suspensions have become more common, they are still rare compared with Amazon. Suspended sellers can contact Cdiscount to appeal, but they should be prepared to wait – Cdiscount only provides email support and replies can be slow.
What shipping methods are available?
Cdiscount offers buyers a choice of:
- Home delivery
- Delivery to a Groupe Casino store
- Immediate pick up from the seller’s own store
- Pick up from a collection point network
For all options other than immediate collection from the seller’s own store, the seller sets the postage cost per item, with the ability to set a sliding scale when several products are purchased in one order.
There is also a fulfillment service similar to Amazon FBA called Cdiscount Fulfilment and a free-shipping scheme like Amazon Prime called Cdiscount à Volonté.
For home delivery, three delivery options are offered by the marketplace:
- Signature on delivery
For a product with a value up to €40, the customer can choose any delivery option. Between €40 and €10,000, the customer can choose tracked or signature on delivery. Above €10,000 only signature on delivery is available.
Sellers can choose not to offer standard delivery (untracked), but must provide the other options. Standard delivery is the default option for products costing less than €40, unless the seller has chosen not to offer it.
A shipping discount is calculated when multiple products are purchased from the same vendor. The total is the shipping cost for the item with the highest shipping rate, plus a per-item charge for each additional product from the same seller.
For Groupe Casino in-store collection the order is delivered to and collected from Groupe Casino stores including Casino and Géant hypermarkets and supermarkets, and Leader Price and Franprix stores. This delivery method applies only to selected products authorized by Cdiscount, which are mainly small items due to space restrictions in the stores.
For immediate collection, the customer can come and collect their order from your own store for up to six hours after purchase. This applies to all products flagged as being available immediately in store, and no shipping charges will be added.
Supported collection point networks are Relais Colis, Mondial Relay and Colissimo. If the buyer chooses this option, the order is delivered to the collection point of their choice. This option is only available for products selected by the seller.
Cdiscount Fulfilment and Cdiscount à Volonté
Cdiscount offers its own logistics service, Cdiscount Fulfilment, to ecommerce retailers both for sales made through its own marketplace and sales made through outside channels. Like Amazon’s FBA, Cdiscount’s service is integrated into the marketplace and promoted to shoppers as Expédié par Cdiscount (Shipped by Cdiscount).
Cdiscount Fulfilment provides warehousing and fulfillment services so sellers can store products in Cdiscount’s warehouse then have them automatically shipped to the customer when they are purchased.
Cdiscount has a free-shipping subscription like Amazon’s Prime called Cdiscount à Volonté (Cdiscount on Demand) which costs €29 per year and provides free shipping on orders over €25. Cdiscount also runs special offers for Cdiscount à Volonté members. The program is heavily marketed by Cdiscount and has become popular with buyers.
Using Cdiscount Fulfilment qualifies products for Cdiscount à Volonté. This can be beneficial for sales, but we have not seen as significant an effect as with Amazon FBA and Prime. But because shipping is free, the price can be more competitive against other sellers, and product ranking in search results may also be improved.
Unlike Amazon FBA, Cdiscount Fulfilment charges sellers the same price for fulfillment whether orders are from the Cdiscount marketplace or outside channels. There are charges for receiving, picking and packing, shipping and storage.
How do you succeed selling on Cdiscount?
Cdiscount is very strong in computers, electronics and household appliances and sellers of those product categories will find a large number of buyers on Cdiscount.
Cdiscount itself has been focusing on recruiting sellers of home furnishing, jewelry and luggage.
There is no way to optimize product data for search ranking because Cdiscount creates all the product information themselves.
The focus is really just on price. Sellers need available stock and a low price to sell successfully on the marketplace. Cdiscount has its own repricing feature which allows sellers to set a “floor price” for each product, then the price is adjusted automatically one cent at a time until the cheapest price is reached. This feature is quite brutal and drives prices down very quickly – it does not raise prices when competitors raise theirs or go out of stock.
Cdiscount is the largest marketplace in France, behind only Amazon. It has a large population of buyers, and enjoys the backing of retail giant Groupe Casino.
Cdiscount is actively seeking foreign sellers to round out its product catalog and compete on price with existing sellers.
If your products appeal to French buyers but are not easily available in France, or you can provide better prices than local sellers, then Cdiscount is an excellent place to add to your sales channels.
This post was by Géric Javid of ecommerce software company Boostmyshop.
With more than 15 years of experience in ecommerce, Boostmyshop develops solutions to meet the challenges of e-retailers worldwide: increase turnover and margins, optimize processes and improve customer satisfaction.
This article was first published in June 2016 and last updated in May 2021.