Although Italy is not, perhaps, the best connected country in the virtual and real world, Italians do seem to want to shop on-line. This should come as no surprise seeing that time for many of us these days is a precious resource. E-commerce can allow us to save this resource.
Time is as important for Italians as for anybody else, so the appeal of e-commerce is growing, even if it may hit a glass ceiling if internet connectivity and other issues are not addressed.
Evidence of growth? Via Mattia Lissi’s interesting Mind the Gap blog on goings on in the Italian social media world, I learnt about Casaleggio Associati and ISPO’s annual survey into e-commerce in Italy. This survey indicates that between 2009 and 201o, e-commerce in Italy grew by 43%.
Some Italian companies are starting to capitalize on this growth, and one example I know of is the Blomming social e-commerce widget – a smart piece of code which makes it relatively easy to pop a virtual shop just about anywhere on the web. You can find out more about Blomming, which, by the way, is still in a testing phase, by visiting this site: Blomming.com
What do Italians buy Electronically?
One of the biggest e-commerce sectors in Italy is leisure which includes gambling, betting, sporting goods, shows, games and telephony (?!) which made up for 48.5% of the Italian e-commerce market. The average spend was only €30 though.
Next up, and more interestingly for this here blogger, is tourism at 31.4% with an average spend of €312 on transport, hotels (and, presumably other accommodation), tour operators and attractions.
After that came spending on electro-domestic, photographic, hardware, audio and other electronic products at 7.1%. The average spend was €240.
Shopping for insurance on-line seems to be popular, with 6.7% of Italy’s e-commerce users buying insurance cover on-line and spending an average of €499.
You can see an infographic showing more information on e-commerce in Italy by visiting Mattia Lissi’s Data on E-commerce in Italy article.
Scope for Expansion, but Web Infrastructure Needs Work
There is scope for growth in e-commerce in Italy, as in 2009, only 39% of Italy’s families had broad band connections to the www. Overall, around 56% of Italy’s families have web connections in their homes. Only 54.3% of Italy’s homes had computers in 2009.
I suspect these figures will have changed in view of sales of tablet devices such as the iPad and Italians are using web capable mobile phones to connect, although I personally suspect that many of Italy’s Blackberry owners tend to use their smart phones to manage email and not to surf the web on the move.
Italy’s government does not seem to be doing a huge amount to promote internet use in Italy, although there is talk of extending Wi-Max connectivity.
Getting a decent internet connection in rural Italy is still not easy and I’m always hearing reports of connections being either expensive, slow or both. Bandwith seems to be a problem too – especially for the ADSL lines and using the internet in the evenings can be difficult owing to high traffic levels.
Italy’s erratic and problematic postal service may also need some attention if e-commerce is to really take off in Italy – especially if Italians want to sell their wares beyond Italy’s boundaries, and some do, I know.
Until the problems outlined above are overcome, e-commerce may hit a plateau and will not reach its full potential in Italy.
Internet map picture from The Opte Project