RealTime IT News

Italian E-Commerce Growing at a Fast Pace

More than ever before, Italians are going online for products and services, according to a recent study by the Osservatorio Internet Italia, a research group supported by several of the country's top corporations.

Nearly 130,000 Italians have purchased goods and services online, according to the report. Among the products, computer software ranked number one (25 percent), followed by books and CDs (21 percent), gifts (12 percent) and hardware (10 percent). Travel products, financial and other services, and a variety of other products offered through the Italian online shopping sites made up the remaining percentage.

"Roughly 2,600,000 Italian adults declared that they had used the Internet during the previous month," said Andreina Mandelli, professor at the Bocconi University of Milan, and head of the Osservatorio Internet Italia project. "This is a big step forward compared to the approximate 1,500,000 users in mid-1997."

The research also indicated that Internet users have two general characteristics: a higher usage by those aged 24-35 years in professional occupations; and a preference to connections from the workplace rather than the home (35 percent vs. 26 percent). Less than 30 percent of Italian Internet users, according to the study, are women.

"To get a more accurate idea of how many Italians habitually use the Internet,7[it was important] to also measure how often it is used both weekly and daily," explained Madelli. "The study revealed some nice surprises."

Among the surprises:

  • more than 1,500,000 Italians use the net at least once a week
  • approximately 770,000 are daily users
  • approximately 850,000 read online news
  • users 24-35, while using the Internet more frequently, read online news less than younger and older users
  • online subscriptions are more popular among 25-35 year olds
  • graduates, generally use the Internet more than others

This and other information generated as part of Osservatorio Internet Italia project is used by the research group's sponsors and associates. They include Microsoft, RAI, Mediaset, Matrix, Cariplo, La Repubblica, @iip, Telecom Italia Network, Glamm, and the cable and satellite television company, Stream. Associate partners include Canon Italia, Costa Crociere, and Lotus.

"For professionals who wish to start using the Internet as a sales channel," explains Mandelli, "it is important to know that users are more motivated to do online shopping not only by the value of the services offered and price differences, but especially by the greater convenience. . . "

Credit card security is one of the major concerns of online shoppers, based on the Osservatorio Internet Italia study. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed also said that they never find items of interest. Sixteen percent felt it better to deal face-to-face with the retailer.

In addition to research, Osservatorio Internet Italia offers its supporters a unique ability to gain insight into the country's online shopping and Net marketing possibilities through lectures and seminars, such as the one schedule for December 15th in Milan. Organized exclusively for sponsor companies, this year's meeting will cover current trends and critical issues in Internet advertising, from the prospective of a publisher as well as an advertiser.

Mandelli pointed out that "the objective of the seminar is to understand the state of the art of Internet advertising in Italy compared to worldwide."