How important is Italian e-commerce?

eCommerce 2019
Michele Caprini
02 Jun 2019

In the past weeks, Italian e-commerce has been the subject of two important studies: in April by Casaleggio & Associati in their traditional report and recently by l’Osservatorio B2C of the Politecnico di Milano for the Netcomm Forum 2019.

According to the first study, last year 40% (2.81 billion people) of the global population purchased online. It is estimated that by 2022 3.2 billion people will purchase through e-commerce.

In 2018 Italian B2C eCommerce recorded a year-over-year growth of 18%, greater than 2017. However, despite the increase, this growth is far lower if compared with other European countries.

Growth and delay

The same view was expressed at the Netcomm Forum. According to researchers from the universities of Milan, Italian online purchases have increased by 15% and account for €31.5b. Despite this significant growth, Italian retail only accounts for 7% of global distribution.

Roberto Liscia, Netcomm President, explicitly stated his view: “Amongst all, the Italian population is the one which purchases the least online. Only 44% of Italians purchase online, compared to the 68% of the European population. This gap can be explained by the direct correlation between digital competencies of a country and the competition level between brands”.


China, which is dominating the digital world, displays indexes which are naturally unimaginable for our market. According to Casaleggio & Associati, $855b USD were transacted in China in 2018, 19% more than in 2017; they further estimate an e-commerce growth of 30.3% and one of 35% for local retail stores by 2019.

The other tech giant, America, now has 80% of its population purchasing online, a 10% increase from last year according to Statista. By 2021, the American e-commerce market is predicted to increase by 14%.

Of the European population, 79.6% habitually use the internet and it is the continent with the highest penetration. In 2018, 69% of the population executed at least one purchase online and by 2019 an e-commerce volume of €342b is predicted.

The United Kingdom remains as the benchmark. Different studies all seem to point to the same conclusion and eMarketer predicts an unstoppable e-commerce penetration growth. Having grown by 20.6% in 2018, 22.3% this year and it will grow by 26.8% in 2022. Germany’s total distribution growth of 14% in 2018 is more than double of Italy’s growth.


According to Alessandro Perego, Scientific Director or the “Osservatori del Politecnico di Milano”, “Italian B2C e-commerce explains 60% of retail growth”.

It’s perceived as complimentary to traditional physical retail, and it’s important for promoting new models of customer relations.However, even if the phenomenon begins online, it ends up being a common innovation factor for the entire retail sector.

According to Netcomm President, this year will be the decisive year for brands to join the international digital transformation. Investments in technology will have to be accompanied by concrete staff training efforts.

It is of growing importance to define and create digital channels to improve our competencies and the growth of exports in e-commerce.


read also: Netcomm Forum 2019, A Focus on China