Amazon has been hampered in Italy by a lack of broadband and poor routes for parcel delivery, especially in the south. Italy has the oldest population in Europe and many people are also reluctant to provide their financial information online. E-commerce accounts for only 8% of retail spending in the country.
“There were structural issues we had to deal with,” said Mariangela Marseglia, Amazon country manager for Italy. “Unfortunately, our country was and still is one of those with weak technological understanding and technological culture.”
The turning point was the pandemic. Mr Parma said 75% of Italians had shopped online during the lockdown. According to researchers at the Polytechnic University of Milan, total online sales are expected to grow by 26% to a record 22.7 billion euros this year. Netcomm, an Italian retail consortium, called it a “10-year evolutionary leap”, with more than two million Italians trying e-commerce for the first time between January and May.
Obstacles remain for Amazon. Small and medium-sized enterprises are an integral part of Italian society. They represent around 67% of the economy, excluding finance, and around 78% of employment, which is above EU averages, according to EU statistics.