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Italy: ecommerce to see 20 percent growth in 2017

Monday 27 February 2017 | 09:08 AM CET

B2C ecommerce in Italy is expected to see growths of 20% in 2017, reaching EUR 23.4 billion, the largest increase since 2010, nearly doubling 2013’s total of EUR 12.6 billion.

This is the forecast made by Netcomm, an Italian E-Commerce Consortium. In spite of the drop in retail sales (-0.5%) shown by ISTAT in December 2016 and the stability they registered in 2016 (+0.1%), in 2017 the biggest boost in online purchases wasn’t just the GDP’s recovery (Bankitalia claims a +0.9% expected growth), but also Italian families’ greater inclinations for online shopping: buyers, frequency of purchases, and average receipts are all on the rise.

Online buyers have grown by 26% from 2014 to 2016, but the ecommerce market’s increase in value has been more than a third. Formerly-niche divisions should feature the greatest growth performances in 2017, around 30% or more, thanks to the interaction between physical and online stores (which the large brands are working on). We’ about home furnishings, clothing, footwear, and personal accessories, not to mention food products and packaged consumer goods.

Currently, one out of every four chains that works in e-commerce offers online reservations and the ability to collect purchases at physical stores, while 12% allow returns.Traveling and vacations will slow down growth (to +10%) in the 2015-2017 period. Consumer electronics and hi-tech will perform better (+28%), while the publishing industry will approach EUR 800 million in sales.

Of the nearly-21 million online buyers in Italy, almost 16 million in Q4 of 2016 (+25% in 2016) were classified as ‘frequent customers’ of online stores. On average, each one made at least three purchases, with average receipts that just barely exceeded EUR 100.

This group generated 94% of B2C sales. The other 4.7 million consumers are ‘sporadic customers’, who purchase one or two products every three months, spending a little less than EUR 100.

The real driving force for purchases is smartphones, thanks to apps offered by the merchants. By the end of 2016, one out of every six purchases (+80%) was made on a smartphone, whereas tablets were more resistant (used in almost 8% of cases).

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