Voice of the Industry

Italy – overview of key ecommerce insights and trends

Thursday 27 July 2023 12:27 CET | Editor: Raluca Ochiana | Voice of the industry

This is a snapshot of the insights that matter most when measuring the size and type of opportunities in the ecommerce market in Italy.


General overview and facts and figures 

In Italy, 49.6% of the population shopped online in 2021 (compared to 37.7% in 2019), with the number of ecommerce users expected to hit the 70% figure in three or four years. Moreover, the Italian ecommerce sector grew from a share of 5.9% in 2019 (approximately EUR 19 billion) to 9.2% in 2021 (approximately EUR 28 billion). So, despite a slow increase in internet penetration, recent global events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, together with a rise in smartphone use, determined Italian consumers to shop online in unprecedented numbers. These also led to the adoption of modern ecommerce solutions, such as same-day delivery, to meet consumers’ expectations.

Italia Cashless and other particularities of the market

The most popular online retailers among Italian consumers include Amazon, eBay, Zalando, Mediaworld, UniEuro, Subito, Decathlon, Leroy Merlin, IBS, and ManoMano, and it is also worth mentioning that luxury goods – especially those in the clothing and shoes segment – are very relevant for this market. In 2021, premium products were more popular via online retail channels rather than in-store, and goods priced over EUR 150 accounted for 34% in online sales and 23% in offline sales. So, it is no wonder that Italian retailers make their services and products available through more channels, from ecommerce platforms and marketplaces to social media.

When it comes to the particularities of the Italian ecommerce market, it is also worth mentioning that in 2020, the Government introduced a cashback programme. It is part of ‘Italia Cashless’, a plan developed by the Government to encourage the use of cards and payment apps, in order to modernise the country and encourage the development of a more digital, fast, simple, and transparent system. 

The cross-border opportunity 

As the ecommerce sector in Italy is expected to see exponential growth in the following years, this is a great opportunity for online retailers that want to sell across borders. Seeking more choice and variety, Italian online shoppers already acquire products across borders in high numbers, with half having already purchased from international merchants by 2021. Italy’s most popular international markets for cross-border ecommerce are China (with 38%), followed by Germany (17%), and the UK (16%).

Some pointers for online retailers that want to start selling in Italy would be to provide free shipping and returns, to broaden and optimise the payment solutions offered, to provide Italian-language personalisation when opening their online stores in Italy, and to use local carriers and warehouses, since many Italians trust Poste Italiane, the local postal service provider. Zalando, for instance, increased its turnover by 21.6% in 2020, also thanks to its partnership with Poste Italiane, which allows online shoppers to collect and return packages at approximately 12,000 authorised Italian post offices and through the Punto Poste network (7,300 tobacco shops, 200 affiliated shops, and 350 lockers).

The local payments space 

Following the introduction of the ‘Italia Cashless’ plan and further streamlined by the lockdowns, online payments grew in popularity – being preferred by 6 out of 10 Italians in 2020 – with credit cards, prepaid cards, and vouchers being used most often. Other noteworthy payment methods that experienced growth in the last couple of years are e-wallets (such as Satispay, Stocard, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay), bank transfers (BancomatPay, MyBank, Nexi, Trustly), and BNPL (Soisy, Scalapay, Clearpay, Klarna).

Additionally, as more Italian consumers will switch to online shopping, businesses are expected to upgrade their payments infrastructure, as Uber Eats did in 2020, allowing merchants to receive payments daily rather than weekly, as well as increasing the number of devices merchants can use for processing orders. Thus, we can expect to see further enhancements to the payments infrastructure in Italy.

Logistics, refunds, and return policies 

As we’ve seen, there were several factors driving Italians to shop online more often, leading to the adoption of more modern ecommerce solutions, such as same-day delivery. However, this is not the standard delivery time expected by Italian consumers. According to a Statista survey carried out in 2021, most Italian online shoppers (68%) expect to receive their purchased products within 3 to 5 days, followed by those that expect the delivery to happen in 1 to 2 days (19%), or even 6 days or more (11%).

When it comes to refund and return policies for Italian ecommerce merchants, these are governed by EU rules. They stipulate that traders must repair, replace, reduce the price, or offer a refund to customers if the goods bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised.

Additionally, if one buys a product or a service online or outside of a shop (by telephone, mail order, and so on), they have the right to cancel and return the order within 14 days, for any reason and without providing a justification (exemptions include products such as perishable goods and drinks, personalised items, and digital goods).

Across the EU, traders must provide a refund (including shipping) within 14 days of receiving a shopper’s cancellation request, but they can delay the process if they haven’t received the goods or evidence that they have been returned.

This snapshot was first published in 2022 in ‘eCommerce Insights and Trends Snapshot: Italy, an eBook produced by The Paypers in association with our partner ACI Worldwide – and based on data from ACI Worldwide. Download your free copy of the eBook here to gain access to a much more comprehensive analysis of the main trends and developments in the Italian ecommerce market. 

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Keywords: ecommerce, Ecommerce Europe, cashback, retail, payments , digital payments, online payments, credit card, bank transfer, BNPL, refund, merchants
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: Italy
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce