25 June 2019

E-commerce: a strategic channel that goes beyond sales

How Italian companies can face the challenges of a highly competitive market dominated by international giants.

The scenario: e-commerce in Italy

Facts and figures. E-commerce in Italy reached a value of €41.5 billion in 2018 (+18% compared to 2017) with 42.3 million unique users per month and 38 million online consumers (estimated number to reach 41 million in 2023). The smartphone is the tool most often used by Italians when making purchases (85%), and the near future of 5G and extra bandwidth will only increase this figure. Companies registered at the Chamber of Commerce in the Ateco sector (Internet commerce) are also on the increase, for a total of 20,100 companies in 2018 (+11.73% compared to 2017). Not only that, new players are entering the market in sectors that have until now been more protected, such as the pharmaceutical sector. 

The sectors where e-commerce is growing. This is the ranking of sectors with growing online sales: 

  1. Leisure time (41.3% of turnover for the most part concentrated in gaming and betting).  

  2. Tourism  (28% of turnover) 

  3. Multi-product online store (14.5% of turnover)  

  4. Consumer electronics (3.3% of turnover).  

  5. Health (+23% of turnover), a sector that is growing thanks to the increase in online pharmacies 

  6. Fashion (+18% of turnover).  


The trends. 80% of online consumers say that personalised experiences make them more likely to buy from one company rather than another (for example in regards to delivery times and time bands and return policies). In a country like ours, where social commerce is not yet as widespread as in China and the USA, 87% of users say that social media influences purchases. Social networks remain the main channel for corporate investments with a prevalence of Facebook, followed by Instagram and YouTube.

The potentials.  Italian e-commerce is a sector with high growth potential, although the market is highly competitive and still dominated by the international "big names" that have already expanded in our territory, grabbing the most interesting sectors and acquiring local companies. Experiences like those of Amazon in electronics, Booking and Expedia in tourism, Zalando in clothing shows that today selling online means managing important economies of scale and making significant investments in services and acquisitions. 

How to increase the value of Italian e-commerce companies

To reverse the trend that has led foreign companies to conquer the Italian market and not vice versa, we need to increase the value of our companies and attract financing. These are some of the determining factors on which today e-commerce companies must aim to be competitive: 

  • Business scalability: to be scalable, a company must be agile, lightweight in terms of structure, and "as a service" in terms of software, to ensure that the business model can be easily replicated abroad. 

  • Internationalisation: the methods used are different, from taking advantage of the presence of marketplaces to arriving at markets that they would not be able to reach on their own, to the direct penetration of the overseas market, to the acquisition of local companies, etc. 

  • The value of the brand 

  • Excellence and diversity of resources: having a diverse and cohesive team and highly qualified management 

  • Making significant investments in technology and innovation, but also in marketing and promotion. 


Mashfrog and e-commerce solutions 

"E-commerce is a very important channel that radically changes the entire customer journey", says Davide Cecca, Head of Sales of mashfrog Group. "A strategic channel because it redefines the roles and perspectives of those who work in commerce, and changes the weighting of activities in a company's business strategies."  

In short, all companies in the retail world that want to compete in the market must not only be able to sell online, but must adopt logic and business models of this specific channel of the Internet era. Through the e-commerce channel we have the possibility to trace the entire customer journey, all the phases, that is, the relationship between a company and its customers, from the first knowledge of the brand to the post-sales. This means the possibility of collecting huge volumes of data and analysing consumption habits on which to define increasingly specific and targeted campaigns and propositions. 

“E-commerce is today first and foremost an analysis channel, as well as a sales and distribution channel. We are witnessing a paradigm shift that does not require steps backwards and to which Italian companies must necessarily adapt". 

As a technological partner of e-commerce companies that want to emerge in the Italian and international market, mashfrog moves precisely within this paradigm, developing customised B2B and B2C solutions that respect the 3 must-haves of online sales: 

  1. Responding to the needs of end consumers

  2. Integrating with company processes and systems

  3. Guaranteeing the results on the markets of interest according to the different circumstances.

Win-win solutions for customers and consumers that guarantee an effective customer journey as much for buyers as for those who perform the role of sellers.

Our team. Front-end and back-end developers, UX/UI designers, SEO and Content specialists, online advertising and Social Media experts are the resources and skills of the Group for the development of B2B and B2C e-commerce projects. To these we add the experience in the sector of The Innovaction Factory, a company that has become part of the Group and Magento Solution Partner, specialised in the design and development of highly customised e-commerce and mobile commerce solutions for the requirements of business and consumer targets.

CRM and System Integration. Furthermore, our platforms are natively integrated with company information systems to improve existing engagement, sales and after-sales processes. They support the tools already used by customers (ERP, warehouse management software, product DBs, shipping carriers etc.) and integrate the main Italian and international payment gateways.

Results monitoring. Performance and engagement results are the result of the mix of technological solutions, funnel analysis and A/B, multivariate and split tests. Furthermore, by integrating machine learning and CRM we develop lead generation processes with iterative performance improvement plans.

Case History

E-commerce B2B multi-country per Trelleborg Wheel Systems, a leading manufacturer of tyres for agricultural and forestry machinery. The platform uses SAP Hybris technology and is fully integrated with the business logic and the supply chain of the company.

B2 multi-country e-commerce for Herbatint, a brand of the Italian company Antica Erboristeria that produces organic hair dyes and hair care products. We have developed the Italian and American e-commerce platform for them and managed integrated SEO, SEM and Social Media Marketing campaigns.