Italy’s E-commerce Market is Determined by Brands; Spain’s by Price


The French Internet economy trade association  ACSEL (Association de l’économie numérique) organises regular workshops on different e-commerce markets. On the ninth of May, it was the Spanish and Italian online markets that were being subjected to scrutiny. Francois Deschamps, the French editor of the online portal, summarises the key points of the event.


The Italian e-commerce market grew by 20 percent in 2010-2011, achieving a turnover of €8.1 billion. The market, however, is relatively concentrated: 20 percent of online retailers generated 70 percent of sales. Italians have a close affinity with the smartphone: with 21 million smartphones in Italy, nearly one-third of the population is the owner of one. This contributed to an increase of 210 percent in the m-commerce segment in 2011.

Coupon and daily deals sites like letsBonus, Glamoo, Groupon or Prezzo Felice are especially popular. “The Italians want to buy brands but at affordable prices,” stated Nicolas Deschamps Hennon, spokesman for Kiabi Italy.

A weakness of the Italian market is logistics: Bartolini, a company described as not consistently effective and transparent, is in an absolute monopoly position for the provision of the package delivery service. In terms of payment methods, 72 percent of Italians were loyal to credit cards in 2011 while 15 percent used PayPal’s services.


In 2011 Spanish e-commerce increased by 22 percent and is thus one of the few segments of the Spanish market that have experienced growth. As a highly cost-conscious people, Spaniards are big fans of deals and shopping clubs: “While Italy is a brand-specific market, Spain is determined by price,” commented Thierry Petit, founder of

Anyone who wants to expand to Spain should be prepared to enter a price war and to consider in advance how product offerings, transportation costs and payment methods can be optimally adapted to this circumstance.

In contrast to Italy, Spain offers a wide variety of logistics services in terms of choice and size. Spaniards tend to prefer to pay with debit cards and digital wallets à la PayPal.