Today, the retail sector is much more complex than it used to be. In recent years, as a result of the pandemic, the customer journey has become increasingly hybrid – operating online and offline - and e-commerce is now an important asset for growing sales. Therefore, multi channelling is a requirement, not only for customers and their improved experience, but also for companies that are now able to reach new customers and successfully export across national borders.

As a result, Amazon, in collaboration with Start Magazine and ICINN (Istituto per la Cultura dell'Innovazione), has launched research to examine the role of digital technology within the context of Amazon’s ‘Made in Italy’ programme, which culminated in the publication of the book “Made in (digital) Italy” in Rome on 7th March 2023.

We are an ally of Italian SMEs

As an ally of SMEs, we support Italy’s entrepreneurs through investments and tools for their digitisation and international growth. In Europe, in 2021 alone, our investments – in people, services, tools and programmes focused exclusively on supporting SMEs – exceeded €3.4 billion. In order to support SMEs in internationalising their businesses, we help them start on their path to digitisation via the free training programme “Accelera con Amazon” which launched in November 2020 during the pandemic. Together, with several public and private partners, we provide first-time entrepreneurs with the most effective skills and knowledge to sell online and increase their businesses’ visibility beyond borders. In 2022 alone, thanks to this programme, we supported more than 25,000 Italian SMEs and start-ups on their path to digitisation, bringing the total number of companies involved to more than 35,000 since 2020.

In 2021, more than 20,000 Italian SMEs sold their products through and recorded export sales of around EUR 800 million, 60 million of which were registered outside of the EU. Emilia Food Love from the Emilia region, Gnavolini Raccolta Sapore from the Umbria region, and AfroRicci from Lombardy have all participated in this cross-border commerce. They gave their testimonials at a recent event:

“By launching online, we were able to start testing new markets very simply, starting the process of opening internationally and promoting our company," said Andrea Magnone, creator of Emilia Food Love, a company exporting culinary excellence from the Emilia region. “Promoting our products on the ‘Made in Italy’ showcase in the United States made us quickly aware of the opportunities we would have overseas; today, the U.S. is worth 60% of our business turnover. Amazon gives us the opportunity to have an international stage for ‘Made in Italy’, bringing great growth opportunities for small Italian companies.”

“Amazon was and continues to be an opportunity to deal with an ever-changing digital reality. It has allowed us to develop the right mentality to operate like the biggest businesses, whilst maintaining our firm local identity,” said Gianmichele Gnavolini, the owner of the Umbrian agri-food company of the same name. He added: “We have become more organised and better at managing time, now that we have more freedom.”

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Finally, according to Afroricci's CEO, Alice Edun, Amazon has been fundamental for her company in answering growing demand and differentiating itself from its competitors. In addition, selling on Amazon was and is a useful way to understand end-customer behaviour. “Amazon is a real revolution in making yourself known in a short time and acquiring new customers from all over the world, which is a key step for companies today,” she said.

Promoting ‘Made in Italy’: our commitment and synergy with institutions

As the study published by Start Magazine points out, ‘Made in Italy’ products need this shift towards innovation. Digital technology has enhanced Italy’s national quality products and has given businesses the opportunity to transform production and distribution processes in terms of efficiency and develop better final contact with the end consumer.

At Amazon, we continue to invest and improve in order to allow Italy’s entrepreneurial fabric to be known worldwide and to accelerate the development of an international offering thanks to digitisation. In 2015, we launched Amazon's ‘Made in Italy’ showcase, to promote the style and quality of Italian craftsmanship and allow artisans and small and medium-sized enterprises selling on our Store to reach an international audience. Today, the showcase is available in Amazon's online Store in France, Spain, Germany, the UK, the U.S, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. On, the Store display includes 17 regional paths dedicated to local excellence, ranging from Northern to Southern Italy, with more than one million products available. This is the result of the excellent work of more than 4,500 artisans and SMEs exporting beyond national borders.

These are goals that we have achieved thanks to the support of outstanding partners. For example; since 2019, we have been working together with the ITA (Italian Trade Agency) to promote ‘Made in Italy’ all over the world. So far, our agreement, renewed at the end of November last year, has involved around 2,200 Italian SMEs and made more than 280,000 new products available to customers around the world. Together with ITA we have inaugurated ‘Amazon Incubator’, a pilot project including more than 100 Italian SMEs, to help them on their path to opening internationally through targeted and customised training. On 30th May, again in collaboration with ITA as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, we presented the first ‘Made in Italy Days - four days of offers to celebrate Italy’s Republic Day, from 30th May to 2nd June, featuring thousands of original and certified ‘Made in Italy’ products. The launch of this initiative was an opportunity to announce our commitment to support Italian companies in our Store to reach €1.2 billion in foreign sales per year by 2025 - more than double the 2020 export value.

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From left to right: Gianmichele Gnavolini (Gnavolini Raccolta Sapore); Andrea Magnone (Emilia Food Love); Enrica Belli (journalist); Alice Edun (AfroRicci); Michele Guerriero (Start Magazine)

The event involved the Spanish, French, German, British, American, Japanese, and United Arab Emirates Amazon websites, including a special event at the Italian Embassy in Washington. We brought a group of small and medium-sized Italian companies that sell ‘Made in Italy’ products through Amazon - from food to fashion and design - to showcase their products in front of an international audience and to tell their stories, in a special celebration that was very significant for Italy.

In 2022, to support the promotion of ‘Made in Italy’ globally, we signed agreements with the Liguria region, Abruzzo region, Umbria region, Calabria region and the Autonomous Province of Trento. These are memorandums of understanding (MoUs) aimed at supporting international opportunities and digitisation of local SMEs.

These are just a few examples of concrete initiatives where we play an active role, by constantly collaborating with public and private players, to promote businesses internationally and accelerate the process of digital transformation of small and medium-sized Italian businesses - the backbone of the national production system. Additionally, Roberto Liscia, President of the Netcomm Consortium, highlighted the value of public-private synergies at the recent event and provided an overview of the sector:

"To create the necessary conditions for growth and competition of the sector, overcoming the dichotomy of online-offline, we need to intervene on multiple levels with supportive policies. Consumers have already understood this change of paradigm, but traditional commercial services also find a valuable ally in e-commerce to sell and offer their products on multiple channels and online stores. It is therefore necessary to promote initiatives aimed at enabling integration between the different e-commerce players and small retailers, who, thanks to these alliances, cannot only reach customers residing in neighbouring areas, but also develop their offerings internationally."