With €48 billion in transactions, €71 billion in turnover and 380,000 employees, e-commerce is a phenomenon of growing importance in Italy and is proving to be a strategic lever of development opportunities for businesses. This was demonstrated by the new study carried out by The European House – Ambrosetti, in collaboration with Amazon and presented at the Cernobbio Forum 2023, called “The scenarios of today and tomorrow for competitive strategies”.
According to the study’s data, Italian companies selling online reported an average increase in turnover of 8.8%, marginality of 8.1%, and exports of 8.1%, thanks to the adoption of e-commerce. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reap the biggest benefits, reporting an increase in turnover of over 9.3%, margin of over 64%, and over 3% in exports.
Companies selling online also see benefits on the physical channel, in particular in terms of an increase in brand awareness (seven out of ten companies surveyed), innovation of the offer based on a multichannel experience together with an improvement in after-sales service (six out of ten companies), and an expansion of the domestic and foreign customer base (six out of ten companies).
If these effects were applied to all Italian companies whose business could be integrated with the digital channel, we could see a flywheel boost to Italy’s economy of over €110 billion (+6% of GDP in 2022).
The effects on companies are complementary to the positive impact generated by e-commerce on the fight against inflation, a major concern for many Italian families, as well as for businesses.
The two previous studies – focusing on the analysis of Italian citizens and the econometric model based on ISTAT (Italian National Institute of Statistics) – showed that e-commerce has facilitated access to lower prices and greater availability, range, and variety of items on offer. In Italy, online prices were much more stable, even during periods of high inflation, and amounted to roughly €40 billion in purchases over the last three years. Above all, had it not been for the effect of the widespread use of e-commerce, inflation over the last six years would have been on average 5% higher.
Maintaining affordable prices and guaranteeing a wide selection of products available through fast deliveries are measures that help fight inflation, and this is precisely what Amazon has been doing from day one. According to the research carried out by Ambrosetti, Amazon ranks first among leading brands – both physical and online – with greater benefits perceived by Italians in terms of contribution to purchasing power, affordability, diversity and breadth of offer – a recognition that rewards our commitment to putting the customer at the centre of every decision we make.
For Amazon, our customers are also our third-party sellers and SMEs that choose our store to develop their offer into an increasingly multichannel and international approach, to the extent that nearly 60% of the items sold on Amazon come from them.
Specifically, in 2022 alone, Amazon invested over €8 billion in logistics, services, tools and training across Europe. Thanks to these important investments, in 2022, more than 21,000 Italian SMEs chose to use the Amazon store. Of these, more than half exported their products, recording a total of over €950 million in export sales, 20% more than the previous year.
SMEs also increased the number of products sold in Amazon’s store to over 125 million products in total, around 20% more than the previous year; over 250 products per minute. Among these SMEs, 850 exceeded €1 million in sales and over 5,100 exceeded €100,000 in sales. The figures demonstrate our continued commitment to supporting entrepreneurs in the communities where we operate, in line with our broader goal of helping them achieve €1.2 billion annually in export sales by 2025.
Nevertheless, there is enormous potential still to be exploited for Italian companies. Suffice to say that today e-commerce still accounts for only 12% of total retail sales (source: Politecnico di Milano) and only 13% of Italian SMEs sell online, a figure lower than the European average of 18% (Digital Economy and Society Index 2022).
We have created tools to support the growth of SMEs and Made in Italy. These include the Amazon Made in Italy showcase, which brings the excellence of over 5,500 Italian companies to Amazon’s online stores in 11 countries; or “Accelera con Amazon”, a free training programme launched at the end of 2020, which has supported more than 35,000 Italian businesses and startups in their path of digitisation and internationalisation. The initiative was created in collaboration with several public and private entities, including ITA Agency, Netcomm, the MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Management, the Abruzzo Region, the Marche Region, the Liguria Region, the Sicily Region and the Umbria Region. SACE (the Italian Export Credit Agency) also joined this prestigious group through a Memorandum of Understanding, announced with Amazon on August 2nd .
Moreover, on the occasion of the renewal of the agreement with ITA Agency in 2022, we launched the pilot project “Amazon Incubator”, aimed at more than 100 Italian SMEs with the goal of guiding them in their internationalization journey through targeted and personalised training.
Collaboration between the public and private sectors is the most effective way to enabling e-commerce to play the role of a growth multiplier for the Italian economy, as well as guiding legislative interventions to facilitate this process through: promoting awareness of e-commerce benefits; the development of the trade industry; the launch of a national plan aimed at improving the knowledge and competences of digital workers; the strengthening of the Digital Export offer through support for trademark registration and protection of intellectual property; and legislative and regulatory harmonisation between Italy and the EU.
We will continue to invest and innovate for Italian SMEs while collaborating with ITA Agency, with whom we have been working since 2019. Together, in the context of the Cernobbio Forum 2023, we confirmed our shared commitment to collaboration, bringing our Made in Italy excellence to Amazon customers worldwide.