A Confesercenti study published a few days, produced on the basis of data from the Chamber of Trade and the B2C e-commerce Observatory at the Politecnico di Milano, showed that Italian digital commerce was developing in a very high risk context. Since 2012, there has been a 72% increase in online businesses: four more stores every day. But actual trade for these new enterprises remains a mirage.
In 2017 the number of companies engaged in this sector reached 18,000, an increase of 8.4% compared to the previous year. A proper evaluation of the sector should have added another 10,000 traditional businesses who have added a web presence to their traditional business offers. But in the global sales account, smaller Italian e-commerce sites accounted for less than 5%.
In the period 2012-2017 the increase in merchants was quantifiable at 72.6%: over 7,500 more units. The increase has affected the entire region, but with a radical diversity in the macro-areas taken into consideration. Whilst the regions with the highest density remain Lombardy
(3,226 companies, just under one fifth of the national total) followed by Campania (with 2,204 online stores) and Lazio (2,078) it is in fact the South that’s leading, having seen an increase in businesses of +116.9% since 2012, of which 12.8% were only added in the last year.
This numerical growth does not however provide a proportionally adequate result, and is an unwelcome confirmation of the fact that market penetration by smaller businesses demands a titanic effort, without guaranteeing any results. According to Confesercenti, in 2017
the overall Italian purchasing indicator on the network rose by 17% compared to 2016, for a total expenditure of 23.6 billion Euros. But the top 20 merchants on the scene shared 71% of the market; 95% of this was assigned to the first 250; the total number of operators from the 251st position onwards (17,675 units) does not even amount to 1 billion Euros in total.
It is not difficult to understand the reasons for this phenomenon:
The acceleration of online purchases has attracted many new entrepreneurs, especially amongst young people looking for employment: on average, merchants are 39 years old, almost 10 years younger than the average trader, and 28% are under 35 years old. Unfortunately, however, e-commerce is a sector with a very high competition rate, in which finding a space beyond big marketplaces like Amazon and eBay is very difficult. The difference in levels that allows foreign leaders to be more competitive in terms of prices also has an impact. More attention needs to be paid to abuses and counterfeiting on the web. As for market concentrations, we will be asking for an investigation by the Guarantor Authority.
Mauro Bussoni, General Secretary, Confesercenti