When you hear the word “Italia” you probably think about sunny and sandy beaches, spaghetti, wine and rather easy-going approach to life. However, have you ever wondered if e-commerce and internet business sectors in Italy are equally “easy-going”? Let’s get to know more about “a real Buongiorno”, a flesh and blood Italian.
Italy is the fourth most densely populated country in Europe – the Apennine Peninsula (including San Marino and Vatican City) is a home to around 60 million people. It’s also a country that belongs to the elite Group of Seven, it’s associated with sunshine, holidays, coffee, great food but also with the wave of immigrants, corruption and the mafia. Consequently, we get a society extremely diverse in terms of culture and social status. Additionally, a gradual ageing and decline of the population may suggest that the activities in the online world won’t be overly important there. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Giuseppe – an average Internet user
Stereotypical Italians don’t hurry anywhere, don’t pay attention to details and always have time (even if they’re over an hour late for the meeting, they’ll always find a moment to drink a cup of coffee or talk to a friend they haven’t seen for a long time). To put it simple – they enjoy slow life. However, when it comes to shopping, it’s quite different. More than 60% of users admit that before making a purchase, they look for information about the product or service on the Internet. More than 20 million Italians, which is one third of the whole society, had already made a purchase online (data: NETCOMM FORUM IX FORUM, 20.03.2014, Milan). Italians love to talk, bargain and discuss, but don’t confuse it with arguing. Therefore, the opinions posted on social media are very often crucial for them while decision making. So, if you only have the opportunity to reach them through this specific communication channel maybe you’ll experience a rough conversation, but thanks to it you’ll also significantly increase your chances to sell the products or services.
As a relatively wealthy European, every Giuseppe will expect a professional approach, the highest possible level of service and the extraordinary quality of the products on offer. Obviously, all of these should be done in their native language, Italian. If you think about entering the Italian market, remember to take care of the local people and pay particular attention to the government’s 60+ program, during which they learn how to use the Internet and move freely in an alternate online reality. Italians aren’t French so you shouldn’t have many problems with communicating in English but remember to take into account also immigrants, who start with English and only then learn Italian. Nevertheless, keeping in mind their preference for convenience, it’d be great if you could try to adjust your website to their needs. Similarly to the activities carried out during effective positioning, we’ll prepare your website in terms of Google algorithms.
Is this a good moment to enter the Italian market?
There’s only one answer to that question – of course it’s a good moment to enter the Italian market. The Italian e-commerce market is expanding rapidly, year after year noting a significant growth (the e-commerce sector in this country has reached the value of 23 billion Euros).
That’s not all. The Italian government has introduced a special program which, over the next five years, will allow access to high-speed Internet not only in large cities, but also in small towns and villages. This will result in an increase in the number of people using the Internet and available services. At the moment, about 75% of the population has access to the Internet, and as many as 58% buy online. On the chart below you can see what Italians are mainly interested in:
You already know how the stereotypical Italians behave, what they’re interested in and what they most frequently search for on the Internet. It’ll be also necessary to know what ultimately prompts them to choose the particular offer. Here, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the love of comfort conquers everything – free delivery is undoubtedly the most appreciated advantage (92% of the respondents indicated this solution as the key element during decision making), but the possibility of free return is right behind it with 91% of supporters among interviewees (data: marketingbiznes.pl). Earlier we pointed out that a large part of Italians check the information about the product on the Internet and pay attention to the quality of the website – this brings about the third most important factor encouraging users to make a purchase – 90% of the respondents indicated transparency, meaning no hidden costs and clear product description, as extremely important.
How to get found online?
OK, so you know who the statistical Italians are, what they cherish or like and what is important for them while making a purchase. Now, it’d be good to know how you can let them find you online.
A well optimized website available in the appropriate language version will be obviously an essential element here. Moreover, you have to choose such an industry in which you’ll have the greatest chances to succeed. And last but not least, get to know where and how Italians will search for you.
Search engines in Italy:
Of course, Google is an unquestionable leader among search engines with over 96% of the market share. So, in Italy you have to base your positioning strategy on all kinds of hints and guidelines relating to the Google algorithms. It’d be pointless to worry about or even mention other competition on the market, they’re miles apart.
Remember that Italians tend to express their feelings and emotions in a slightly different manner, so you’ll probably need to prepare for long tail positioning as many of them are fond of entering long, flowery phrases in search engines!
Similarly to the most popular search engine, Facebook is an outright leader when it comes to social media with a clear advantage over other online means of social interaction. However, it’d be also beneficial to take care of your Pinterest account, as this portal is very fashionable and popular on the Apennine Peninsula. Other websites don’t reach even 5 percentage points and attract an insignificant number of potential customers.
Are Italians ready for m-commerce?
The expansion and development of Italian e-commerce wouldn’t have been feasible without the influence of mobile devices. It’s impossible to ignore the number of phone calls in the ratio to the population of Italy – this shows a very rapid growth in the use of mobile devices in this country. Consequently, there’s a noticeable increase in traffic to online stores, which, in turn, results in a greater number of transactions.
Approximately 30% of purchases on the Italian online market are made with the use of mobile devices. With the development of technology, searching for offers on large screens of tablets or smartphones is no longer so difficult, furthermore, it’s even more convenient, as it’s doable from almost every place and every situation. So when you think about entering the Italian market, remember to optimize your website for mobile devices – it’ll undoubtedly help you to gain a large group of potential customers!
Your competition on the market never sleeps!
E-commerce in Italy is growing in strength, all the time developing and expanding. This’s been noticed also by entrepreneurs, who every year spend more and more resources on broadly defined “digital marketing”, whose inseparable and basic part is constituted by SEO. It’s estimated that next year the digital marketing will account for more than 22% of the total value of advertising expense incurred by an average company in Italy.
Website positioning in an Italian way – “Ciao Bella!”
Hello, beautiful Italy! Naturally, you don’t have to be afraid to enter the Italian market if you prepare for it properly. You already know what you should pay particular attention to when it comes to effective positioning – in the first place, due to its major importance, it’s recommended to use long tail positioning. You should also adjust the site to Google algorithms and necessarily ensure that the address of the website not only ends with “.it” but also offers the appropriate language version and lists of products, which are most commonly searched for by a typical Italian person. Remember to optimize your website for mobile devices and ensure a proper page load speed. Although Italians always have time for everything, when it comes to making purchases they expect full professionalism and transparency, thus a slow-loading website certainly won’t convince them. You shouldn’t also ignore proper linking, however, it’s not as significant as correct website optimization.
It’s enough to take care of these few details and as a result you’ll certainly be satisfied with your website visibility and conversions. Then, there is nothing else left for you but to drink delicious Italian coffee served in one of the charming cafés, visit the Roman Colosseum, enjoy the music during the festival in San Remo or spend a few days in the picturesque, yet mysterious Sicily.