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Ecommerce in Italy is surging, catching up from a slow start relative to France, Germany, Spain and the UK. It climbed more than 32% in 2011, and eMarketer expects growth of 25.5% in 2012. By 2016, B2C online sales will have more than doubled from $12.88 billion in 2011 to $31.25 billion.
The slow start is due to lack of a critical mass of consumers buying online. In 2011, only 38.5% of internet users in Italy were buying online, compared to 82.5% in the UK and 74.6% in Germany. Prospects for the future aren’t spectacular, given the gloomy economic climate: eMarketer expects 41.3% of internet users in Italy to buy online in 2012, and 44.1% in 2013, amounting to 11.7 and 13 million buyers, respectively.
However, retailers are doing more to draw internet users into the fold, as found in a 2011 survey of B2C ecommerce companies in Italy by Casaleggio Associati. One tactic is social media—72.1% of B2C ecommerce retailers are using online word-of-mouth (sharing, “likes” and retweets), while 59% are using social media to communicate and provide offers to their fans.
For retail sites in Italy, the tactics to draw in more visitors are working. According to comScore, retail websites in Italy attracted close to 20 million visitors in June 2012, or 69.5% of all internet users in the country. Global retail giant Amazon recorded 4.6 million unique users, ranking first, followed by price-comparison sites in the LeGuide.com network and Apple.com sites.
Interestingly, while Italy may not have as many online buyers as countries like Spain, France or Germany, it does beat out those countries in terms of average amount spent per online buyer. In 2012, eMarketer estimates that Italy’s online buyers will spend an average of $1,380 and will increase spending to $1,885 by 2016. In Western Europe, that figure is second only to the UK.
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