Love for foreign players or lack of strong domestic e-tailers?In the business-to-consumer (B2C) realm, cross-border e-commerce is becoming more relevant. In Italy, the share of revenue generated by foreign online retailers out of total online retail sales reached over 35 percent, up from the previous years. China is the leading market of origin of cross-border purchases, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany. Also due to the propensity to purchase from non-domestic retailers, the ranking of leading online stores shows big marketplaces outdoing Italian e-tailers, with Amazon generating the highest e-commerce net sales in 2021.
International players seemed to have benefited from the e-commerce surge more than Italian enterprises. According to a 2021 survey, only sixty percent of Italian online retailers reported having been positively affected by the shifted shopping behavior brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. A further explanation for this phenomenon could be that a big part of online shopping activity involves services rather than merchandise. In 2021, leisure services – e.g., online gaming - accounted for almost half of the e-commerce revenue, with tourism services holding an 11-percent market share despite the decline between 2020 and 2021.