Italy - Country Commercial Guide
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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. About 50 million Italians (85% of the population) use the internet and nearly 40 million shop online. Italy, however, still lags behind its peers in Europe in fixed broadband and many SMEs lack the funds to upgrade their infrastructure. In 2022, e-commerce in Italy had an estimated €76 billion in revenue, though inflation also contributed to the increase from 2021. While all forms of e-commerce are available and digital payment systems are well developed, Italy remains somewhat of a cash-based society; cash was used for 44% of transactions in 2022. Nevertheless, e-commerce is poised to continue on an upward trend.

Italian shoppers often purchase from foreign retailers, with those in China, Germany, and the UK among the most popular. Top e-commerce sites include Amazon, eBay, Subito, Zalando, and Apple. Sales are increasingly transacted on mobile devices, which, along with cards, now account for roughly 40% of all sales. With a POS infrastructure already in place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has also been a surge in contactless payments.

E-commerce Services 

International retailing platforms have a strong influence on the Italian e-commerce market. 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. SMEs interested in selling to the Italian market.

Social Commerce

The significant increase in use of social media worldwide has had an impact on e-commerce because consumers are now more likely to purchase through social media. Specifically, more brands as well as marketplaces have synchronized their e-commerce platforms with social media so consumers can easily connect to their e-shops. In Italy, 44 million people (75% of the population) use social media, with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn all popular. Italian consumers often rely on the information provided on social networks, especially that coming from other consumers via comments or reviews.

Legal and Regulatory Environment

In 2015, the EU launched the Digital Single Market Strategy, of which e-commerce was a priority area. Since then, the Electronic Commerce Directive has provided rules for online services in the EU, including requiring providers to abide by regulations in the country where they are established (the country of origin); to meet certain consumer protection rules, such as indicating contact details on their website, clearly identifying advertising, and protecting against spam. The Directive also grants exemptions to liability for intermediates that transmit illegal contact by third parties and for unknowingly hosting content. The recently adopted Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act establish additional rules for online services. The former includes measures to tackle online sales of counterfeit goods and illegal and harmful online content. The latter sets rules for ‘gatekeeper’ online platforms, aiming to curb unfair practices and to promote competition.