E-Commerce Boom in Italy: 63,000 stores closed since 2008, but online sales thrives

Stefania Corda
By

Italians increasingly prefer to shop online. A consequence is the 63 thousand physical stores that closed since 2008. Clothing and household retail suffered the most. Of course the economic crisis is a major factor, but consumers preferring to shop online have also played an important role in this transformation.

Consumers increasingly shopping online, is a trend that led to e-commerce’s doubling activity in Italy over the course of just 4 years, bringing online purchases to 6% of the total sales in 2017. The average annual growth was 19%, leading to an online turnover of 24 billion euro (source: Confcommercio).

The forecast for the 2018 online purchases, is a growth of 15% compared to 2017 (Netcomm Forum, 2018).  A third of these purchases will be via smartphone, continuing the device of choice of users.

Regarding the categories that are being bought online, the interest increases during this period in information technology and electronics (+ 18%), clothing (+ 21%) and publishing (+ 25%). Emerging and fast growing are, FMCG (+ 34%), beauty (+ 29%), furniture and home living (+ 44%) and cars and spare parts (+ 26%). Tourism and transport and the insurance sector also expands by 5%.

‘Online and offline must be integrated’

The growth of the online market continues to be linear compared to the past, but behind this trend there is a strong change: new technologies have significantly changed consumer behavior, business models and sales processes, marking a new era of retail and global economy”,  explains Roberto Liscia, President of Netcomm. “We are in the middle of the perfect storm of e-commerce. Omnichannel has become the center of strategy for most companies. Connecting and integrating the web with the physical world is a priority”.

Businesses and managers will have the task of riding the digital revolution, not only transforming their business through the use of all available technologies and the creation of new skills, but by promoting a new form of culture based on innovation and experimentation, with a spirit self-criticism to get back into question and draw its own future, knowing every day of having to develop new knowledge and skills.

Regarding the concept of omnichannel, it must be noted that most physical retailers are not able to develop a successful e-commerce formula, let alone combining both a successful physical and an online store formula. The reason is that many variables are different: online items are priced differently as logistic costs weigh heavier on small purchases, internet advertising and SEO are very different competences than classic advertising, building a well-functioning e-store is also a struggle for many classic retailers and require serious investments, and finally recruiting and managing staff with great e-commerce competences requires a radically different business culture than the one propagated in physical retail.

Sources:

“Ecommerce in Italy was worth 24 billion euros in 2017”, Ecommerce News, April 16, 2018: https://ecommercenews.eu/ecommerce-italy-worth-24-billion-euros-2017/

Ufficio Stampa Netcomm, “L’e-commerce italiano continua la sua crescita a doppia cifra: +15%”, Milano 30 maggio.

Varpi Caterina, L’e-commerce in Italia vale 23,6 miliardi nel 2017, in crescita del 17%”, Engage, October 10, 2017.

https://www.corriere.it/economia/18_aprile_12/boom-dell-ecommerce-italia-vale-24-miliardi-euro-8276cf28-3e6e-11e8-adb3-f3dc0ac87621.shtml?refresh_ce-cp

Featured image: Ecommerce News, 2018

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