E-commerce in Italy: payment methods and customer behavior


Davide Casaleggio, the CEO of Casaleggio Associati, offers a detailed overview of how Italian consumers buy and pay online


Like a pot on the fire about to boil, needing only a tap on the side to start, the lockdown was the tipping point for Italian e-commerce which achieved in 2020 a turnover of 48.2 billion euros. Many sectors suffered, mainly tourism, which has always been the engine of Italian e-commerce. 2020 was a year of transition – those who seized the opportunity saw significant growth in their revenue (e.g. food, due to restaurant closures) or profits (e.g., automobile insurance, due to the absence of accidents). For others, it was a moment of survival (eg tourism).

The end-of-year result of the e-commerce sector remained, for the first time in Italian history, basically the same as the previous year. But 2020 has really brought e-commerce to maturity, becoming truly mainstream. Millions of Italians have discovered the possibility of shopping online and they will not forget it, even for the sectors that have suffered in recent months. This is why, today, electronic commerce has become fundamental in the strategy of every production or distribution group in Italy. When an area goes through a change in ripening, there are many side effects. One of them is the takeovers of companies wishing to consolidate their position or make up for lost time. Another factor of change, infrastructure is becoming essential to excel in the sector. For this reason, pressures are also emerging to define the gaming table. For example, in recent years, network neutrality has been under discussion: equal access for all companies to the same network quality and speed (for example, in particular for streaming companies in the United States).

Today, in Italy, we must also question other infrastructures such as maritime neutrality. The presence of large operators in fact shifts the attention and quality of service towards those who contract very demanding SLAs (Service Level Agreements) to the detriment of small Italian e-commerce operators with much less contractual force. For this reason and others linked to the economies of scale of the big international giants, new forms of aggregation are created between companies which, through federations of micro-enterprises, position themselves more and more as valid competitors. (at least in perspective).

Digital payments in e-commerce in Italy

After the approval of the cashless plan in 2019 and helped by the confinement, there has been an evolution of payment methods in Italy. Electronic payments have become the preferred method of 6 in 10 people (5 in 10 in 2019) – 47% of Italians said they would use credit / debit cards or other cards to pay any amount, even minimal, compared to 40% in 2019.

The lockdown has determined a growth in online payments which, between offline and online, account for more than a third of total Italian transactions. In 2020, credit cards were the preferred payment method for Italians (44%), followed by prepaid cards and vouchers (40%). Digital wallets take third place with 34%. Among payment processors, PayPal retains the lead (65% of shares), followed by Stripe (23%), while Amazon Pay lags behind (2.5%).

As predicted by last year’s forecast, instant payments have increased and been incorporated by businesses to increase the one-on-one relationship with the customer and create a unique model between physical and digital stores. laFeltrinelli, during the Pandemic, introduced the instant payment service for booksellers who advise customers, and immediately process sales and payment, also integrating mobile payment systems such as Satispay. In addition, this year, for Italian e-commerce companies, credit cards are the most used payment method and are growing (41%), followed by digital wallets (25%) and bank transfers (15%). ) which lose points. Cash on delivery (12%) and mobile payment (2%) are on the decline in favor of installment payment methods (4%). Digital wallets are still a hit in Italy. Among the digital wallets is Stocard, which in 2020 has moved from a loyalty card wallet to a real payment wallet. Indeed, in addition to integrating the cards of more than 1000 registered retailers (in all kinds of product categories), last year it introduced the function “Pay” to pay without contact directly from the application of the. user with a virtual card (recharged via credit cards and / or bank accounts) to be used both in store and on e-commerce sites.

The big novelty in OD 2020 in Italy was the installment payment category that follows the global Buy Now, Pay Later trend. This online payment method, even if it sometimes results in higher commissions for companies, offers several advantages that justify its distribution, among which: an increase in the average basket, a growth in conversions because it is easy to use for the customer, a frequency of orders, and the approach of a target of younger consumers who can thus access purchases, even for small amounts (it is indeed not uncommon for amounts of the order of 15 euros are doubled).

Besides Soisy, Scalapay and Amazon, many operators have entered the Italian installment payment market for online purchases. Among these, the Clearpay solution was recently launched in Italy. It allows the customer to pay in 4 installments, at no additional cost (with payments every 15 days). Klarna, the Swedish online sales start-up is setting up in Italy with the ‘pay in 3 timess’ solution (with payment every thirty days). The company, a leader in immediate payments, paid later, with 250,000 retailers and 90 million customers worldwide, is also very successful in Italy. The fintech company has established its third tech hub in Milan and last year acquired Moneymour, a payments startup that offers immediate loans for online purchases.

Klarna creates personalized partnerships with the aim of creating services to help the consumer, like the one with Samsung Italia which introduced the possibility for the customer to pay in installments even after-sales services (like repairs out of warranty): a service that meets the needs of consumers in times of financial hardship due to the pandemic.

Among the alternative solutions, the payment application Satispay (with more than 1.4 million users and around 140,000 merchants in Italy) has seen an increase in the use of payment services linked to the health emergency, such as the online payment of the automobile tax which increased by 110% compared to last year, precisely because of the need to avoid going to physical places to pay. More importantly, he activated the “Order and Collect” service which allowed retailers without an e-commerce system to receive payment for the order and collect it in-store in cashless mode.

About Davide Casaleggio

Davide Casaleggio is CEO and partner of Casaleggio Associati and president and founder of the Rousseau Association, the direct democracy platform used by the 5-Star Movement. Passionate about chess since his childhood, after graduating from Bocconi in economics with a specialization in E-Business, he devoted himself to teaching, the publication of books dedicated to the web and collaborations with internet consulting companies. In 2004, he joined Casaleggio Associati and became president in 2016 after the death of his father Gianroberto. He specializes in strategic consulting for digital innovation, in the definition of online business models and in research in the field of exponential technologies. He has developed sectoral research and he constantly gives lectures and seminars. It deals in particular with Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and issues related to the fourth industrial revolution in relation to the effects on the economy. He is the curator of e-commerce research in Italy and author of the books “E-business models” and “You are Net”.

About Casaleggio Associati

Casaleggio Associati has been operating since 2004 with the aim of analyzing the web phenomenon applied to organizations and developing an Internet culture. We provide strategic consulting services for our clients’ online positioning and digital transformation programs, also involving the most innovative technologies, such as AI and cognitive computing. In this area of ​​strategy consulting activities, Casaleggio Associati has acquired experience in the creation of cognitive roadmaps, with the aim of driving business choices in the digital environment and defining measurable objectives in terms of economic return. . Currently, the company carries out strategic consulting, research and experimentation activities in all areas of application of the Internet and new digital technologies.


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