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The keys to expanding your online business in Italy

February 04, 2020

When thinking of markets to expand online businesses into, we often think of countries like Germany, France, United Kingdom, or Spain. But why not Italy? Yes, Italy! This country not only stands out for being the largest market for luxury brands, but also for having enormous potential for eCommerce.

eCommerce in Italy

Italy is one of the fastest growing European countries for eCommerce. According to the B2C E-Commerce Observatory, eCommerce in Italy generated €27 billion in 2018, showing an increase of 16% compared to 2017.

Channable wants to help shed some light on this, potentially unknown market for your business. You can read more details about the situation of eCommerce in Italy, such as what payment methods are the most used, which sectors are the most demanded, and, above all, which platforms are the most in demand.

What are the benefits of selling online to the Italian market?

  1. You will find less competition than other markets with more experience in eCommerce, such as Germany and the United Kingdom. Around 20% of online stores generate 70% of online sales. With much less competition, it will be easier to stand out.
  2. The mentality of the Italian buyer is changing. Every day there are more and more online shoppers and more purchases are being made on smartphones. Currently, about 24 million people shop online in Italy.
  3. Italian brands cannot address this increased demand, so there is room for foreign brands that offer new and innovative products.

eCommerce in Italy

The Italian market, how does it work?

  • Payment methods

You should consider the following payment methods. According to Icepay, you cannot ignore the Italian CartaSi credit card if you want to sell your products and services in Italy. Together with MasterCard and VISA, they are the most used cards. We must also highlight PayPal and payment on delivery or payment upon delivery. Prepaid cards such as Postepay or Italian mail are also common.

  • Purchase hours

You should not forget that in Italy there are big differences between the north and the south. An example being work schedules. In the north they usually finish work at 6:00 pm, while in the south they end much later because of the break for lunch. Translating to online shopping schedules that are also different.

  • Catalog in Italian, YES or YES

The vast majority of the population speaks Italian, so they will feel more comfortable completing the purchase if the information of the products or services is available in Italian. Therefore you should consider the option of translating your webshop, especially if you use comparison websites such as Google Shopping.

  • Amazon, the indispensable marketplace

As in many other countries, Amazon is one of the undisputed leaders in the Italian market. You should not forget that with the Channable API connection you can send your listing of products to Amazon in minutes.

Other very used channels are Zalando, eBay, Wish, ManoMano and Privalia, which we also have connections with all these online platforms. You can send your optimized and updated product listing through a feed or API connection, depending on the channel. Check all the list of channels available in Channable.

  • Most used shipping companies in Italy

Regarding the ranking of the most used shipping companies in Italy, we can highlight these 6: DHL, BRT, TNT, Savino del Bene, CEVA and Saima Avandero.

If your eCommerce webshop is developed with PrestaShop, Magento, Shopify or Woocommerce, you may want to know that we have order connections with all of them. That means that you can manage Amazon and eBay orders directly in your webshop, centralizing marketplaces orders in one place and making their management much easier.

As you know, shipping products can be the best point of contact with the customer. That’s why you might be interested in using a platform like Qapla. Thanks to this Italian tool you can take advantage of the delivery of the order status to include information on other products, increasing the possibility of doing upsells and cross sells, improving this way the brand awareness and loyalty.

  • Most demanded sectors

The sector with the highest growth in eCommerce in Italy compared to 2018 figures is for the food sector, which has grown 40%, followed by the home and decoration sector, which increased by 30%. However, we cannot forget that tourism, fashion, electronics and the beauty sector still reign.

  • Other advise

Italian consumers have high expectations about customer service, but they are often patient, they have no problem with receiving orders in 3 or 5 days. However, on many occasions they assume that shipping will be for free. In addition, it is important to offer simple solutions for returns, especially for the fashion sector where returns are around 40%.

eCommerce in Italy, last figures

According the the last “Osservatorio eCommerce B2C 2019” (Osservatori Digital Innovation – Poli.Mi. and Consorzio Netcomm), online purchases in both Italian and foreign online shops have reached 31.6 billion euros, which represents a 15% increase from 2018. The purchase of products has increased by 21%, compared to the purchase of services, which has only increased by 8%. This phenomenon has caused a considerable increase in the number of shipments. In terms of transactions, the value of the purchase of products has reached 18 billion euros, compared to 13.5 billion generated in the services sector.

Where to start?

It is true that breaking through into a new market can be intimidating. But if you have enough information that allows you to control the situation, everything will be easier. It is always good to start with a SWOT analysis, which allows you to discover the weaknesses, strengths, threats and opportunities of your company to face that new market that you want to explore. We hope that the indications offered in this article about the situation of eCommerce in Italy will help you to configure this analysis and future strategy of your company in the Italian market.

Read this in Dutch, French, German, or Spanish.


Vanshj Seth
Sales & Marketing US