Making a Habit of Italy

We take a closer look at consumer patterns in the Italian market

It’s only natural to make assumptions about buyer habits from one market to the next. Sometimes our biases are borne out and sometimes they are contradicted entirely, as is the case in a recent independent survey of 1,000 Italian online shoppers. Using CAWI methodology, the survey (sponsored by Zalando) revealed a nuanced pattern of consumer habits in Italy. Renowned for close-knit families, it should come as no surprise that 93% of the Italian respondents shop for someone else as well as for themselves. Only one quarter of shoppers make purchases without seeking recommendations first from friends and family.

“Offering easy and frictionless return conditions in some areas becomes crucial; it’s a way to win consumers’ hearts.”

Giuseppe Tamola, Country Manager Italy

Research and trust is central to the Italian buyer experience. 73% of shoppers liked to wait several days before clicking ‘buy’, and 64% preferred to shop in the comfort of their own home when they had dedicated time to peruse. This means that the final point of purchase is at the online check-out, compared to other markets where buyers order a number of options then choose which ones to keep. Returns can be uncomfortable for Italian customers, with 6 out of 10 experiencing guilt when they send back an item. Giuseppe Tamola, Italian Country Manager at Zalando explains, “It’s a cultural factor which plays a key role in e-commerce: offering easy and frictionless return conditions in some areas becomes crucial; it’s a way to win consumers’ hearts.” Different payment options is another way to embrace local habits. Available only in Poland, Spain and Italy, cash-on-delivery is part of what Tamola calls Zalando’s “vintage innovation”: understanding the sometimes anachronistic quirks of local markets and catering to them accordingly.

“We’ve had a ‘mobile first’ approach for a long time. Italian clients, among all our European customers, use mobile devices the most.”

Giuseppe Tamola, Country Manager Italy

If the Italian market is vintage in payments, it’s progressive in platform with many buyers skipping desktop completely in favour of shopping on a handheld device. “We’ve had a ‘mobile first’ approach for a long time,” says Tamola. “Italian clients, among all our European customers, use mobile devices the most.” 60% of shoppers also use smartphones to research and compare when shopping in traditional stores, a habit bricks-and-mortar outlets could seriously leverage. And what makes mobile even more attractive to consumers? Getting discounts on the move and in the moment. 76% of those questioned gladly received notifications on offers and promotions.


Want to know more? Have a look at our full infographic illustrating the survey findings here (in Italian) or download the results.