A service activity is essentially characterized by the provision of a technical or intellectual service. Unlike an industrial activity, it cannot be described solely by the characteristics of a tangible asset acquired by the customer. Its final product is immaterial, it is neither storable nor transportable.
In their broadest sense, tertiary services or activities encompass a wide range of activities: trade, transport, financial activities, real estate, business services, personal services, education, health, social action.
In French statistical practice, service activities do not include transport or trade. They include business services, personal services, mixed services (hotels and restaurants, real estate, information and communication) and mainly non-market services.