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.”

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