Don’t want returns? Your product description in French is key

Your product description in French is key

Imagine you are in a French restaurant. Nice day, nice company. You look at the menu and you fancy some fish.

What would you prefer to read?

“Cassolette de poissons nobles à la façon du Chef”?

Or “Lotte légèrement fumée sur une garbure à l’huile d’olive, polenta crémeuse au pok choï, caviar d’Aquitaine, bouchée panko de Chakta”?

“Cassolette de poissons nobles à la façon du Chef” does not say much about the dish and may be you do not know what “cassolette” is.

Or “poissons nobles”. Aristocratic fish?

And “à la façon du Chef”? Is it the way the Chef likes it? But you do not know the Chef…

Happier with “Lotte légèrement fumée sur une garbure à l’huile d’olive, polenta crémeuse au pok choï, caviar d’Aquitaine, bouchée panko de Chakta”?

You guess about huile d’olive, pok choï and caviar.

But frankly the rest is a mystery.


Oui. You expect a surprise. Will you take a chance and send the dish back to the Chef if you do not like the food on your plate? They did their job well in the kitchen and you could have asked questions to the waiter but you didn’t.

Fortunately it is easier on the Internet. Your customers fancy your product, they order, they pay and they send it back to you sometime because something, somewhere, went wrong.

“Wrong color”

“Size too small”

“The frame is ugly, it didn’t look so shiny on the photo”

“I can’t use the microphone because the instruction booklet is not clear”

Managing returns is one of the main issues eCommerce businesses have to face.

Do not take a chance with your product description. Give your French customer what they need to understand your product. Quickly. Give them the information they need to make a decision.

The description of your product in French is key.

It is about words and about pictures.

About words: select the useful information for your French customer

This step is important because you choose and filter what to translate, what to adapt and localize.

Some of the information you give to English customers may not be relevant for a French customer: too local; related to British history or British economy; making sense in the UK but not in France because French and English regulations can be different (check this point with your regional UK Trade & Investment team).

You may have to present your product with more details because it is “so British” and what is evident for a British customer will not be clear for a French person.

Some products are easier to explain than others. Be clear on whom your product is for.

Do you sell components, ingredients or pieces of equipment?

Is it for professionals with the right tools, skills and knowledge or is it for a Dad with DIY work to finish before the end of the weekend?

Get your instruction booklet (and/or your packaging) translated in French.

Some translation companies have developed professional solutions for limited budgets.

No more excuses not having a support documentation that sounds French.

Do you sell “Made in Britain” clothes? Harris Tweed jackets? Tell your French customers the story behind the label. They will love it. Tell them how to clean and look after their jacket.

Adapt the table of measurement in centimetres: size 10 or 14 will not make sense. Add a sketch of the jacket with dimensions.

When your product is simple, keep it simple. And interesting.

Do you sell limited design T-Shirts? 100% cotton? Pretty ordinary isn’t it? But which cotton? Greener? Fairtrade? Or Made-in-Britain? UV-protective? How do you source your cotton?

And how do you print the T-Shirts? Which quality of ink or paint do you use? Who are the designers? Why them? What else are they doing?

There is always a story to tell.

Do you sell personalized stickers and labels for clothes?

Some have to be ironed, some have to be sewn and you just have to stick others.

To help your French customer make their mind up through hundreds of products on the website, make it clear there are three ways to use your products: to iron, to sew and to stick. Your French customer knows what they like.

Then add all technical information (material, dimensions, colours, font, etc.) in French, for every single product. Yes… it is a big task.

Replicating in French your English product description does not always do the job.

Do you want to avoid dealing with disappointed French customers? Do you want them to come back? Help them decide to buy or not; to buy now or later; to compare with other brands. Be precise.

About pictures: invest in quality photos and sketches

Nothing will describe a colour or a texture better than a quality photo.

Let us go back to the Harris Tweed jacket business. Your French customer is a connoisseur. They want to see the differences between 4 choices of “Bowhill Unpatterned Grey”.

Which grey? It is subtle and your photographer can bring the answer. Show the material at scale 1:1. Offer the possibility to order a sample.

Same with handmade wallpaper, upholstery fabrics, leather bags or cotton shirts

Sounds evident? Check. Check how many eCommerce businesses do it.

Do not lie: use quality photos from your British website and close the gap between the seduction of the screen (Hello Photoshop) and the reality of your product. The closer you get, the less chances to disappoint your French customer.

When your French customer is engaged in the buying process help them go ahead.

(And next time you want to go to a French restaurant, ask the locals for some advice).

Related post
How to boost French customers’ confidence in your eCommerce




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