Italy is one of Europe’s fastest growing e-commerce markets. However, what are the specific, local requirements for retailers looking to maximize sales in la bella Italia?
There’s never been a better time for global e-commerce businesses to expand into Italy.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce is worth around €30 billion annually and the market has been growing at double-digit rates since 2017¹. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed consumer attitudes, shifted buying behaviours and turbo-charged e-commerce growth.
Italy was hit hard and early by coronavirus, driving Italians from physical to online stores in unprecedented numbers. Even after lockdowns are lifted, many consumers are likely to continue shopping online from the safety and comfort of their homes.
So much so, e-commerce in Italy is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% for 2019-23².
Global sellers setting sights on Italy are pushing on an open door
Italy already has a thriving cross-border shopping culture. More than half of online shoppers have bought at international merchants. China (32%), the UK (20%) and Germany (14%)³ are the most popular overseas markets for Italians seeking the variety and choice not available at home. However, as with all markets, there are local nuances to catalyzing growth. In Italy, optimizing online stores for mobile is an absolute must.
Mobile phone ownership is almost ubiquitous and nearly all 18–34-year-olds have a smartphone. Unsurprisingly, therefore, 40% of Italian e-commerce is conducted via a mobile device, and this is growing at a CAGR of 17% for 2019-234.
A mobile-first approach is highly recommended, given that the m-commerce market will be worth nearly €24 billion a year by 20235.
Closing cross-border sales means offering local payment options
Italians are highly banked, yet cautious about credit. They don’t like the idea of getting into debt, so only 30% of households have a credit card6.
Italians prefer to pay by cash in-store, by debit card or, better still, by prepaid card. The same is true when it comes to their mobile phones; prepaid SIM cards accounted for 87% of mobile contracts in March 20207.
How Italians pay online is a mix of habit, conditioning and familiarity. Cards are the most-used payment method, with domestic debit and prepaid cards being the most popular types. However, only two-in-five online payments are made by card, so it’s imperative for any business expanding into Italy to offer local payment methods, too8. Not doing so means losing 60% of sales, equivalent to leaving €18 billion in potential sales on the table every year
The European favourite: bank transfers
Bank-funded payment methods are popular local way to pay online in Italy; unsurprisingly as 94% of Italian adults has a bank account. Bank transfers by providers such as MyBank, Trustly and SEPA, accounted for 12% of online payments in 2019. This is projected to rise to 18% by 202311.
E-wallets in Italy
Nearly one-third of all Italian e-commerce purchases are made with a digital wallet, frequently funded via a bank account10. This is the case for Satispay, a mobile wallet popular in Italy, and growing across Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg. It allows its loyal consumer base of over 1.5 million people to pay for purchases online and in-store, as well as exchange money with friends.
Local payment methods enable the shift from bricks to clicks
As any global business knows, successful cross-border expansion means recognizing and respecting local differences.
Internet coverage, smartphone ownership and logistics are not uniform across Italy. E-commerce has traditionally been modest as a result, yet online shopping is growing fast, helped by the unusual COVID-19 conditions of 2020-21.
Payments play a central, enabling role in this shift, with a local payments strategy helping to power global growth and unlock local sales.
Interested in getting a piece of the action?
We’ve recently integrated Satispay, solidifying our local payment coverage across Italy as one of the most comprehensive in the market. Ping us here to discuss adding Klarna, MyBank, Paysafecard, paysafecash, Satispay and SEPA to your offering.
1. ‘2020 E-commerce Payments Trends Report: Italy’, JP Morgan, 2020, https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/italy-2020
6. ‘Percentage of families owning a credit card, a debit card or a pre-paid card in Italy in 2016’, Statista, March 2018, https://www.statista.com/statistics/612007/credit-debit-or-pre-paid-card-owners-italy/
7. ‘Distribution of SIM cards in Italy from 2014 to 2020, by contract type’, Statista, July 2020, https://www.statista.com/statistics/557762/italy-share-of-sim-cards-by-contract-type/
8. ‘2020 E-commerce Payments Trends Report: Italy’, JP Morgan, 2020, https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/italy-2020
10. The Global Findex Data 2017, World Bank, https://globalfindex.worldbank.org/sites/globalfindex/files/2018-04/2017%20Findex%20full%20report_0.pdf
11. ‘2020 E-commerce Payments Trends Report: Italy’, JP Morgan, 2020, https://www.jpmorgan.com/merchant-services/insights/reports/italy-2020