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Time to think of Italy as a Great Ecommerce Opportunity The facts speak for themselves Italy is a market to watch when it comes to e-commerce. It’s currently classed as “immature” as the country’s internet access and broadband speeds lag behind the rest of Europe. But the necessary investment is being made to change that. Combined with an improving economic outlook, this could unleash Italy’s e-commerce potential.

The recent recession leaves a legacy of consumers who are shopping smarter, which is feeding their appetite for online shopping. There is also a willingness to look abroad to find the desired products as many domestic retailers aren’t yet online. For those that successfully target the market earlier in its development, the rewards could be huge. As with any new market, however, retailers need to do their homework to make the most of the opportunities.

Watch this short YouTube video: feature=player_embedded&v=-fAx5mK_Pk About the Economy Italy is the eighth largest economy in the world, and the third biggest in the euro zone, after Germany and France. But it’s yet to reflect that strength when it comes to e-commerce. Some of that is down to the country’s relatively poor internet access; some of it is down to the country’s economy. Encouragingly, both are changing for the better. While growth prospects –

and the people – have taken a severe knock in recent years, Italy is outperforming several of its southern European neighbours. And for any retailers looking for the right time to enter the market, there are signs of recovery on the horizon.

For foreign brands that can strike the right balance between affordability and desirability, there are likely to be strong opportunities to expand in this market as the economy improves and consumer spending power strengthens.

Unemployment, while high at 12.5 per cent, is nearly half that of neighbouring Spain, for example.

Retailing in Italy

GDP is also forecast to rise at 0.6 per cent in 2015 and 1.3 per cent in 2016. Although this is modest, it would mark a turning point for the Italian economy after three years in recession. Reassuringly for international retailers, government efforts to cut red tape, reform the labour market and increase competition deserve some of the credit. The Italian economy has traditionally been fuelled by small and medium sized family owned businesses, as well as specialist manufacturing across categories ranging from automotive and high-end fashion to furniture and food. There are fewer global companies than in other major European markets and food; drink and textiles are among Italy’s main imports. Those entering the market will find a decent consumer appetite. Household consumption is similar to the levels found in France and Switzerland, at 60 per cent of GDP, and per capita purchasing power is higher than the €13,122 a year average for Europe, at €16,0133.

The retail market in Italy has been undergoing gradual modernisation, and while it is dominated by some major national brands, there remain a large number of regional and local players, with many one-off and family-owned shops. As e-commerce’s share of total retail sales currently lags behind many other key European countries, it is essential that new entrants to the market understand the bricks-and mortar trade that still makes up the vast majority of the competition. Retail sales in Italy were worth $494bn (€463bn) in 2014 and are expected to top €500bn by 2018, according to Planet Retail. The sector accounts for roughly 9% of national employment, says Euromonitor. Domestic supermarket chains dominate the Retail Index chart, led by Coop Italia, Conad and Selex. Coop and Conad also feature on Deloitte’s top 250 global retailers list, based on revenue. Beyond supermarkets, fashion and footwear stores contribute to a significant portion of retail sales, along with consumer electronics and sports and leisure.13 And in a curious

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Infinity April 2016  

The latest edition of ‘Infinity’ our specialist digital and ecommerce and all aspects of digital commerce. Infinity is designed for both mul...

Infinity April 2016  

The latest edition of ‘Infinity’ our specialist digital and ecommerce and all aspects of digital commerce. Infinity is designed for both mul...