18 Copywriting Tips to Catch the Roaring E-Commerce Wave

Do French readers enjoy your e-commerce site?

Can you be sure?

Can you absolutely be certain you’re not losing sales because of silly translation mistakes?

The French translation on many sites is pretty rickety – open to many misunderstandings.

When French isn’t your native language, it’s difficult to know whether you’re using the right words. Below I’ve composed a list with simple tips.

Do you want to sell more on your French website?

Start with following these tips, so you don’t sound like the stuttering holidaymakers who struggle to order deux baguettes. Make the French feel you respect their language. And they’ll happily shop on your site. Day and night.

How to be charming in French

Are you worried your content isn’t as good as that of your main French competitor?

Use the following practical 5 tips to chisel your French copywriting.

And to convince your reader.

1) An e-commerce website has special features. And constraints. The content goes from marketing messages to product description. To links, calls-to-action and buttons. To Terms and Conditions. Privacy and cookies Policy. Delivery and Rates. They are different forms of copywriting.
Split your English content. Work with 2 (or more) professionals who have the right feeling for the task. Can you hire a translator and a marketing copywriter? You save time and you get a sharper copy.

2) Use the tone of voice you would have in a physical shop. Formal? Friendly? Posh? Chatty?
Most people understand the buying process of a digital shop. Keep it simple. Be polite. Merci pour votre achat. Nous vous remercions pour votre achat (thank you for your order). Une question ? Contactez-nous (a question? Contact us). A bientôt sur notre site (we hope to see you back).

3) Some brands use the neutral form with infinitive verbs: Vérifier votre panier (to check your basket). It’s clear. Usually short. Cold. Like signposts to indicate the way. Other brands prefer the imperative mood to bring “a bit of life”: Vérifiez votre panier (check your basket). A bit of conversation: Vous avez une réduction ? Mettez à jour votre panier (do you have a discount? Update your cart). Pick what suits you. And stick to it: we all like habits, we all prefer ease to effort. The quicker people understand your voice, the better.

4) Display precise instructions in French. Links and buttons need super care: it’s difficult to be as concise as in English. Your French content can expand more than you think on your website. Spelling mistakes or confusing text can make your customer fade away.
Profiter de mes offres (use my offers) is clumsy. Why “mes” (my)? In this example, the client is a loyal client. They benefit from special offers. Profiter de mes avantages (to use my advantages) or J’en profite (I use the discount) works better.
A brand sets up offers. A client benefits from advantages.
There are always many ways to say something: Nous sommes là pour vous aider (30 caracters). Posez-nous votre question (26 caracters). Contactez-nous (14 caracters). Aide (4 caracters).

5) Be charming. Téléchargez votre bon de réduction pour votre prochain achat (download your voucher for your next order) and Votre cadeau (your gift) mean the same. Your reader won’t feel the same. What’s your tone of voice?

How to boost sales

You know there is a lot to read on an e-commerce website.

Some of it isn’t sexy. Like T&Cs.

But it can make or break a sale.

Use the following 9 foolproof tactics to explain how you sell.

And how your reader can buy.

6) Ask a French native to read your returns and refund policy. They will tell you what can be clearer.

7) Check with them the delivery conditions: it can be an upsetting point. Do you announce Livraison gratuite (free delivery) on your home page? Retours gratuits (free returns)? Echange garanti (money back guarantee)? Without or under conditions?

8) Make sure your delivery conditions are easy to find (avoid asterisks).
And to understand (Yes but no but yes but may be. But no.)

9) Do you want to make it hassle free? Set up a fix rate for all delivery, whatever the order and everywhere in France. Participation aux frais d’envoi : 6,50 € quelle que soit la destination (contribution to shipping: € 6.50 regardless of the destination).

10) The French language has gender. It’s tricky. For example : un bon de réduction and une réduction. At the checkout, every link and every button can become an obstacle to the order.
Vous avez une réduction ? Cliquez ici (do you have a discount? Click here).

11) Separate distinct information. Putting together Livraison gratuite (free delivery) and Plus de 50 nouveautés (more than 50 new products) is ambiguous. Is the free delivery for the 50 new products only? Don’t confuse your reader.

12) Do you run promotions (discount codes)? Do you offer bons de réduction (vouchers)?
At the checkout a button Appliquer la réduction (Apply) can work for both.

13) Show prices in euros with VAT included: Sous-total TTC. Each extra cost at the checkout, any additional tax in the cart can make your French prospect change their mind. And leave.

14) Is your business at an early stage? Do you want to test the market in France before building a comprehensive website in French? Some companies selling luxury products keep their content in English. But set up prices and payment in euros. With a web shop in euros they can reach customers in several European countries.

How to show you care

You’ve created your French website with lots of care.

You think any French person can navigate it easily.

But people always have questions.

Use the following simple 4 steps to reassure your French prospect.

Guide them towards the “Pay” button.

15) Are your products technical? Set up a call-me button next to your products: Je veux être rappelé pour ce produit. Link it to a form where your French prospect can leave their details in confidentiality.

16) Can people browse your French website on a smartphone? On a tablet? Can they see colours, shapes, details and textures? Can they reach your customer service within a click?
Besoin d’aide ? C’est ici (Need some help? Click here). Can they pay on their device?

17) What can they expect when they call/email you? Nous vous répondons dans la journée (we reply the same day). Office hours? 24/7? Be precise and realistic: Nous vous répondons de 13h00 à 21h00 du lundi au samedi (we reply from 1pm to 9pm – Monday to Saturday).

18) Want to be really really helpful? A link – or a flyer to download Comment entretenir votre bureau en chêne (how to care for your oak desk) is specific. Entretien (care) is vague. Will they click?

The French love their independent shops and they fancy the Internet too. They buy on Amazon, Alibaba and eBay, Cdiscount, Fnac.com or Rueducommerce.fr.

They look for niche brands. They want good deals. And play the connoisseurs. They love all things British and Made-in-Britain.

They prefer when their order arrives at their home. They adopt the click-and-collect way. Read comments. Write reviews.

Like you, they love offers and discounts. And hate unexpected delivery costs.

Many French people can browse a website in English. But to feel safe, to order and to pay they prefer a website in French. Where they can pay in euros. With a credit card.

Did you translate everything from English? Use a native French copywriter to culturally adapt headlines, titles and taglines. Humour, popular culture or puns referring to history don’t cross well the language barrier.

A quote from Tim Minchin or a reference to Coronation Street can fall flat in French. Tyrrels’ British humour is a lot less funny in French.

Some words can trigger different feelings on both sides of the Channel. Think about “conqueror”: it’s associated with pride in Normandy. And with rejection in England.

Think about “collaborate” or “collaborator”. In English it simply means co-operation. But the French find it distressing, because they associate it with treason and betrayal. In a business context, you can’t write “your French collaborator” and even less “votre collaborateur français“.

Did you use a machine translation service? Be careful because it’s not reliable yet and your marketing message can be lost. Get your content edited. Sentence structure and way of thinking are different in French and English.

Sound French. Work with professionals.

And you’ll keep the French on board your website.

To the final click.


From Affichez votre panier (check your basket) to Terminez votre commande (complete your order).

From Continuer vos achats (to keep shopping) to Valider votre commande (to check your order).

To Accéder au paiement (to access payment).

To Payer maintenant (to pay now).

Payez (pay).

To this final button you want them to click.



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