E-commerce in Italy is growing at a rate of 300 percent annually, according
to a study presented by the Bocconi University in Milan.
In the last year, Internet sales in the Mediterranean peninsula reached
400,000 individual purchases, compared to 100,000 during the previous year.
The study pointed out that even over the Net, Italians maintained their
habit of shopping for brand names as well as “Made in Italy” products.
“Shoppers continue to search for brands they know and (though numbers have
increased) the Italian public is still uncertain when it comes to ‘stores’
that exist only in a virtual world,” explained Andreina Mandella,
coordinator of the Bocconi research.
Branding is difficult for many small companies that lack the
resources to market their site on a large scale, a common activity for
larger, internationally-known producers of products sold via the Internet.
The Bocconi project also pointed out a distinct difference in the online
buying habits between Italians in the north and south. Over two-thirds of
all e-commerce purchases came from the north, according to the survey.
One reason for this territorial difference is the advancement in technology
caused by the industrialized north, compared to the large agricultural
communities of the south. Another factor
is the increased number of credit card holders in the areas of Milan,
Turin, and Florence, when matched against cities like Catania, in Sicily.
According to the research, overall usage of Internet in Italy is also up.
An average of 5 million people use the Internet, though only 2 million are
considered daily users. The number of ISPs has also risen in the past
twelve months. At the onset of 1998, for example, there were just over 100
registered ISPs in Italy. Today that number is nearly 1,000.