Italy - Country Commercial Guide
eCommerce

Describes what a company needs to know to take advantage of e-commerce in the local market and covers prominent B2B websites.

Last published date: 2021-10-29

Overview                                                                          

Italian consumers are increasingly embracing digital services, and the market is becoming more sophisticated. The digital evolution is fueled by government investment in infrastructure and key operators. Nevertheless, Italy still lags behind in fixed broadband and many SMEs lack funds to upgrade their infrastructure. Although the Italian digital economy trails other major European countries, e-commerce is poised to continue its upward trend with Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Business-to-Business (B2B), and Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) transactions all demonstrating solid growth. In 2020, e-commerce in Italy had an estimated turnover of €48.25 billion,  a 1% decrease from 2019.

Current Market Trends

The number of Italian web shoppers is constantly increasing. In 2020, 8% of all Italian retail sales were completed online. Sales are increasingly being conducted from mobile devices, which now account for roughly 40% of all digital sales. The main factors fueling Italian e-commerce growth are:

  • improved Internet access infrastructures and wider broadband connection availability.
  • one of the world’s highest rates of mobile and smartphone diffusion, which will enable business and consumer segments to take advantage of new technologies for e-commerce transactions.
  • increasing recognition of e-commerce as a cheaper and efficient tool to serve and support customers.
  • improved transaction security; and
  • Italian legislation recognizing the legal validity of digital signatures and digital contracts.
  • COVID-19 pandemic that pushed Italians online.

Domestic e-commerce (B2C) 

The B2C e-commerce market in Italy has grown at a double-digit rate since 2017, generating approximately $36 billion in 2020. The number of Italian web shoppers is constantly increasing, and 93% of the Italian population is now online. Despite the positive trends, in 2019 the Italian B2C e-commerce market was still only worth one third of the United Kingdom’s market, half of the German market, and two thirds of the French market. About 80% of online shoppers make at least one purchase per month with an average annual expenditure of $1488 per user (2020).

Regarding B2C payments trends, even though cards represent 40% of market share, digital wallet use is growing significantly. Digital wallets are expected to grow by 26.7% until 2022.

Cross-Border e-commerce 

In 2020, due to a lack of domestic choice, 51% of Italians purchased from international websites. According to J.P. Morgan 2020 e-commerce Payments Trends Report, the most popular foreign e-shops used by Italian customers are located in China (32%), United Kingdom (20%), and  Germany (14%). On the other hand, over 60% of Italian companies use e-commerce to sell their products to foreign markets. Italian companies sell mostly to the European Union with 21% selling to France, 19% to Spain, and 18% to Germany. Outside of the EU, 14% of Italian companies sell to the United States and the United Kingdom, 6% to Asia (5% to China, 2% to Japan, and 4 % to other Asian markets), and 3% to South America.

B2B e-commerce 

In 2019, e-commerce B2B transactions totaled $463 billion, representing a 14% increase in value from 2018. Transactions between businesses and central/local government only accounts for 15% of all B2B transactions in Italy.

Despite the rising trend in digitalization, digitalization rates among Italian firms are quite low, and the majority of small- and medium-sized companies are far from embracing a digital transformation process which would improve and cut the costs of B2B relations. In 2020, only one out of four large Italian companies used an e-commerce platform. Large enterprises use 250 different eProcurement platforms to manage clients and suppliers’ electronic orders.

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digital transformation, and a growing number of Italian companies consider digitalization  a priority.

In addition, the obligation of delivering electronic invoices to the Italian Public Administration (PA) has resulted in a push towards digitalization for both private and State-owned companies.

The most common B2B e-commerce model is e-business, which entails corporate process digitalization in conjunction with clients and suppliers (supplier selection, management of customer orders, after-sale services, etc.). In addition, over the last few years web portals for B2B e-commerce (like e-commerce B2C models) as well as B2B marketplaces have become more popular.

B2B e-commerce applications and e-procurement are registering continued growth. The most active sectors implementing B2B solutions are the automotive, pharmaceutical, consumer goods, electronics, and consumer electronics sectors. Specialized B2B applications in key “Made in Italy” sectors are also gaining momentum; there are an estimated 350 B2B platforms across different industries. Virtually all major Italian industrial groups utilize e-procurement, and forecasts indicate that in the next few years, up to 80% of all company purchases will be online.

For information on public sector e-procurement, see the “Selling to the Public Sector” section below.

E-commerce of Services 

International B2C retailing platforms have a strong influence on the Italian e-commerce market. Popular e-commerce websites in Italy include: Subito.it, Aliexpress.com, Zalando.it, Autoscout24.it, Groupon.it, Yoox, and Pixmania. Banzai Srl, Italy’s leading e-commerce operator, controls ePrice.it and Saldiprivati.it.

Many companies in Italy offer successful omni-channel digital solutions and international e-commerce sites that are multilingual, multi-currency, multi-collection, and multi-brand. These types of businesses support brands by managing all aspects of their own e-stores, including retail strategy, activity planning, communication, web marketing, store management, customer care, invoicing, and payment collection. These channels offer opportunities for U.S. small- and medium-sized companies interested in selling to the Italian market.

Social Commerce

Every day on average there are 2 million new users worldwide subscribing to social media, which impacts e-commerce because consumers are now more likely to purchase through social media. Specifically, a growing number of brand as well as marketplaces have synchronized their e-commerce platforms with social media so that consumers can easily connect to their e-shops.

In Italy there are approximately 41 million people using social media, which is 68% of the total population (+ 5.7% since 2020). In fact, 60% of  Italian companies, (+ 7% since 2020), are keen on increasing their investments in social media, especially in Facebook and Instagram, which in 2021 were ranked as the most effective social media platforms.

E-commerce Business Service Provider Ecosystem

Popular marketplaces that offer products in a wide variety of categories, include: www.amazon.it, www.ebay.it, www.mediashopping.it, www.alibaba.com, www.aliexpress.it, www.subito.it, www.dmail.it. In addition, there are a range of online marketplaces specialized by sector. The following list is a selection and is not meant to be comprehensive. 

Travel and tourism:

www.edreams.it, www.expedia.it, www.it.lastminute.com, www.trenitalia.com, www.italotreno.it, www.volagratis.it, www.tripadvisor.it, www.opodo.it, www.kayak.it, www.skyscanner.com, www.trivago.it, www.booking.com 

Information technology and consumer electronics:

www.eprice.it, www.euronics.it, www.monclick.it, www.mrprice.it, www.mediaworld.it, www.unieuro.com, and www.trony.it 

Fashion:

www.yoox.com, www.zalando.it, www.saldiprivati.com, www.privalia.com, www.vente-privee.com/

Books, music and video:

  • www.amazon.it, www.ibs.it, www.unilibro.it and www.lafeltrinelli.it 
  • Couponing: www.groupon.it, www.groupalia.it are among the most important sites.

 Resources 

  • Acquisti in Rete – AiR (“Public Procurement Online”) — The AiR portal provides access to a fully functional e-procurement platform
  • https://www.acquistinretepa.it/
  • Netcomm — Italian E-commerce Consortium www.consorzionetcomm.it/ 

The Italian version of Google (www.google.it) as well as the .com version are the most popular search engines.  Other popular search engines are www.yahoo.it, www.virgilio.it, www.libero.it, http://it.msn.com, www.bing.com, and www.tiscali.it.

U.S. companies can contact each search engine and submit their sites for free listing and can also subscribe to special advertising services for a fee. U.S. companies may also hire local firms specialized in “web positioning” and search engine marketing services for website optimization. Although it is not required, it is advisable for U.S. companies that wish to rank highly on local search engines to translate keywords and some text into Italian.

Commerce Resources

https://www.trade.gov/e-commerce contains information to support U.S. companies in building their e-commerce capabilities focusing on these key concepts:

E-commerce is a sales channel that crosses all industries that sell or promote online brand awareness. e-commerce as a sales channel is part of a businesses’ B2B and/or B2C digital strategy.

A digital strategy addresses the basic needs of a business required to succeed in cross-border e-commerce sales channels. Our counseling process focuses on identifying these needs.

E-commerce Key Performance Indicators allows businesses to understand where their digital efforts are paying off.

E-commerce Business Service Provider Directory (BSP) provides the much-needed follow-up to our digital strategy recommendations that will help the client to succeed in overseas markets.