E-commerce in Italy is going through a period of massive growth. But to make the most of it, you’ll need to follow the golden rule. Here’s how to be an online sensation.
Italy may be in the financial doldrums right now, but its e-commerce market is buoyant.
In the past year, it’s grown by 14% to $19 billion – and it’s expected to grow by 10% every year until 2023.
Why? Due to financial uncertainty, Italians have become spenders, not savers. And increasingly they want to spend online. 75% of Italian internet users bought something in the last month alone. And they’re spending 10% more this year than last year – a total of $407 each. In fact, spending is up across all categories.
All in all, e-commerce in Italy is an exciting place right now. But to make the most of the opportunity, you’ll need to deliver what Italian shoppers are expecting.
THE GOLDEN RULE
Here’s the golden rule of e-commerce in Italy: deliver fast, deliver free.
For Italians, a smooth delivery indicates a trustworthy purchasing process and a high-quality item. For you, it means repeat business and loyal customers.
But you’ll have to overcome a few obstacles first.
The Italian postal system is renowned for being unreliable. However, with the rising popularity of e-commerce, Italians are demanding better service. To wow them, make sure you’re set up logistically to work within the system and still deliver great service.
Efficiency isn’t everything though. Italians are also price-conscious. 55% of Italian shoppers expect free delivery as standard. And 43% have abandoned their shopping baskets because they didn’t want to pay for delivery. It’s the same story for returns – 91% believe they should be able to return something for free.
You should also offer a variety of delivery locations. 81% of Italians will abandon their shopping basket if they can’t pick a delivery option they’re happy with. Home deliveries are by far and away the most popular option. Deliveries to work or a friend’s house are also more popular than the international average.
Lastly, Italians want to be kept in the know. 86% want to track every order, no matter how small. And 81% will look at your delivery ratings before buying your products. So to convert window shoppers into customers, a robust delivery service is key.
PAY FOR IT
Italians use a range of payment methods online.
PayPal is the most popular option, but don’t ignore CartaSi either. It’s the number one credit card in Italy. With a market share of 53%, it far outstrips Mastercard and Visa. Offering it as a payment option will boost Italians’ trust and security in your brand.
Cash on delivery is also popular, although increasingly less so. It’s nowhere near as prevalent as in Russia, for example.
It’s true Italians find the ‘Made in Italy’ label appealing. But first and foremost they value high quality, wherever it comes from.
They’ve even been known to shop from British websites – if the price is right and they can’t get something from an Italian site. That being said, shopping on international sites is more likely to be a spontaneous decision if they happen to stumble across your site. For sustainable success, an Italian site is key.
THE TOP E-COMMERCE SITES IN ITALY
Online marketplaces are big business in Italy. 85% of Italian consumers use them regularly to shop online – compared to just 72% in the UK. Which means you’ll need a localized marketplace optimization strategy to make it in Italy.
Here are the Italian e-commerce sites you need to know about:
Amazon.it is Italy’s most popular e-commerce site. It made $2.3 billion in 2018 – accounting for 15% of the total e-commerce market. Thankfully, the process of setting up shop is the same as in other European countries. Check out the advice we gave for setting up in Germany here.
However, they recently fell foul of Italian e-commerce’s golden rule. In 2018, they stirred up controversy by introducing a delivery fee in Italy for orders under 25 euros. This is particularly noteworthy because free shipping and returns is one of Zalando’s key selling points. And they still offer it in other markets. (Although they’ve recently also introduced shipping costs in the UK, Ireland and Spain.) The measure was introduced to counteract Italian spending habits – they often only buy one item per order, making delivery costly.
It remains to be seen whether this will affect Zalando’s popularity in the region. In the meantime, if you’re a fashion brand, it’s well worth setting yourself up on the site. Find out how here.
Privalia may be Spanish in origin, but it’s also found a home in Italy as an online fashion marketplace. It boasts 7.6 million Italian users, and is particularly popular among women aged between 30 and 45. This makes it a good option if you’re not targeting Gen Z or young professionals.
Be warned though: it’s a discount site. Privalia only accepts products that have been discounted by 30%. The site also organizes regular campaigns, but you’ll need to offer at least 50% off to take part. It’s useful for getting rid of your slow-moving or leftover stock, but it should complement – rather than be the focus of – your marketplace strategy.
Privalia also takes Italy’s golden rule of e-commerce seriously. You’ll need to take care of delivery yourself, and to do it within five days. You’ll also need to allow parcel tracking, and local language customer service support. And lastly, expect to be charged a commission between 5–20%.
Fashion sites feature a lot on Italians’ most visited e-commerce retailers, and Yoox is also worth a mention. Created when Yoox Group and NET-A-PORTER merged in 2015, it specializes in high-end fashion, art and design. If you’re a luxury brand, you’ll want to be on this site – it earned $211 million in 2018.
If you’re not sure how to market yourself as a luxury brand abroad, check out the advice in our white paper here.
Want to be an e-commerce success in Italy? Follow the golden rule of fast and free delivery. Remove any obstacles to purchase, provide plenty of payment options, and work out a solid marketplace strategy. With those keys in place, you’ll be in a fantastic position to make the most of Italy’s e-commerce boom.
Need a hand developing an Italian marketplace strategy? Get in touch with our team – they’d love to help.
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