Voice of the Industry

Boosting cross-border conversion rates in Italy, Europe's growth champion

Monday 26 April 2021 08:40 CET | Editor: Alex Guzu | Voice of the industry

James Booth, VP Head of Partnerships EMEA at PPRO, details the current situation of the ecommerce climate in Italy, providing insights into the particularities of the region.

Italy is one of Europe’s fastest-growing ecommerce markets, registering double-digit growth rates since 2017.

The country was hit early by the pandemic, driving Italians from physical to online stores in unprecedented (yes, everyone’s favourite word from 2020) numbers. What’s more, data shows that many consumers are likely to continue shopping online even after the end of the social distancing measures.

The pandemic has undoubtedly changed consumer attitudes, shifted buying behaviours, and turbo-charged ecommerce growth, so much so that ecommerce in Italy is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10% from 2019 to 2023.

It’s becoming increasingly clear for the partners we support: there has never been a better time for global ecommerce businesses to expand there.

Global companies are pushing on an open door

Italy has long-established cross-border shopping habits. More than 50% of online shoppers have bought at international merchants; China (32%), the UK (20%) and Germany (14%)  are the most popular.

However, as with all markets, there are local nuances to catalysing growth. In Italy, optimising online stores for mobile is an absolute must. Nearly all adults have a mobile phone in Italy. Unsurprisingly, therefore, 40% of Italian ecommerce purchases are made on a phone, and this is growing at a CAGR of 17% for the 2019 – 2023.

A mobile-first approach is highly recommended, given that the m-commerce market will be worth nearly EUR 24 billion a year by 2023.

Local payment options are the key to conversion

Many Italians have a bank account, yet they’re cautious about credit. They don’t like the idea of getting into debt, so only 30% of households have a credit card.

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 2020.

Only two-in-five online payments are made by card, so it is imperative for any business expanding into Italy to offer local payment methods.  Not doing so means losing 60% of sales, equivalent to leaving EUR 18 billion in potential sales on the table every year.

The European choice: bank transfers

Bank-funded payment methods are a popular local way to pay online in Italy; unsurprisingly, as 94% of Italian adults have 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 2023.

E-wallets, growing in popularity

Nearly a third of all Italian ecommerce purchases are made with an e-wallet, frequently funded via a bank account. 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. In 2020, Satispay doubled the number of online merchants in its network and recorded a 61% increase in the number of online transactions.

Going from bricks to clicks

As any global business knows, successful international expansion means recognising and respecting local differences.

Internet coverage, smartphone ownership, and logistics are not uniform across Italy. Ecommerce has traditionally been modest as a result, yet online shopping is growing fast, helped by the unusual COVID-19 conditions of 2020 and 2021.

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 more?

We’ve recently hosted experts from disruptive European payment methods Trustly and Satispay to debate between the benefits of e-wallets and bank transfer payments. Have a listen to the interesting chat here.

About James Booth

James Booth has over ten years of experience in the financial sector, eight of those in fintech. In his current role as VP, Head of Partnerships for EMEA, he leads the new business and partner development teams in managing PPRO’s new and existing strategic partnerships. In addition to helping PPRO partners grow their business, he acts as PPRO’s internal advocate for aligning the company’s product roadmap with the needs of its customers. James has been actively involved in various projects during his tenure at PPRO, including establishing PPRO’s presence in North America and managing the development of the PPRO Partner Portal.

About PPRO

PPRO is the top global provider of local payments infrastructure, powering growth for payment service providers and enterprises with payment platforms. Companies at the forefront of payments technology leverage PPRO's unified platform, expert services, and local payment methods to boost sales in over 100 e-commerce markets worldwide. In 2020 alone, PPRO processed over $11 billion for its customers, including companies such as Mollie, PayPal, Worldpay, and many others.


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Keywords: PPRO, ecommerce, cross-border ecommerce, online payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce | Ecommerce
Countries: Italy
This article is part of category

Payments & Commerce