The Italian market is one of the most sought-out markets for businesses looking to expand internationally. Given Italy’s current market outlook, it’s no wonder why.
As of 2021, Italy was the world’s eighth-largest economy with a GDP of over 1.87 trillion and a GDP per capita of $31,630. Despite a decline in GDP in 2020 due to Covid 19, Italy’s economy has been resilient. By 2023, Italy’s GDP is expected to grow by $2.5 trillion.
Italy’s economy comprises primarily small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), most family-owned. These SMEs contribute about 66.9% of Italy’s total GDP.
The country’s economy is more than welcoming for foreign businesses looking for international expansion opportunities. Still, you need to be mindful of some cultural nuances and business etiquette if you want to be welcomed with open arms. When approaching a new, international market, whether it’s in Europe, UK or anywhere else in the world – from hiring a UK certified translation services provider to considering any geo-economic considerations, these tips will help you do just that.
1. Keep Geography in Mind
Most of Italy’s industrial development is concentrated in the Northern regions, ranging from Turin to Venice. Today, the region contributes to more than 50% of Italy’s national income, but historically, this has been the case.
The northern regions of Italy, ranging from Turin to Venice, are considered one of the most prosperous and industrialised. After the unification of Italy in the mid-1800s, Italian rulers realised that they should capitalise on Italy’s comparative advantages, which include climate and art.
This left manufacturing to countries north of the Alps, yet it took Italy barely a decade to start building a comparative advantage in manufacturing. Other exceedingly industrialised areas include Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, which specialise in paper, textiles, clothing, food, and ceramic manufacturing.
However, the peak industrialisation areas can attract a lot of competition. So bear that in mind if you want to build your business in the north and utilise the benefits of a well-established industrial region.
2. Government Reforms
Regardless of whichever market you’re expanding into, it would be best if you always were up to date about its political environment.
Formed in 2021, the current Italian government is technocratic in that it is a “government of experts.” The Italian government prioritises scientific and rational approaches to problem resolution over ideological ones.
This government emphasises post-pandemic economic recovery by applying for the National Recovery and Resilience Program. Under this program, the European Commission awarded a grant of $200 billion to Italy to develop its economy around three strategic axes, including digitisation and innovation, ecological transition, and social inclusion.
To familiarise yourself with eco-political reforms, you need to be able to translate Italian documents accurately.
3. Payment Methods and Delivery Options
You need to tailor your customer service according to the trends in your target market to compete with the locals. To do that, you need to understand the preferences of the local consumer.
The first thing to consider is Italy’s e-commerce payment methods of choice. Notably, Italians are wary of holding credit and generally distrust electronic forms of cash. In fact, the government had to intervene and impose a “No Cash Day” to promote the development of electronic money among Italians.
Still, though, cards are currently the most popular way of making payments online, with a little twist. Instead of credit and debit cards, Italians prefer making online payments through prepaid cards, where they load cash onto generic cards and use their digital wallets for e-commerce transactions.
Furthermore, cash on delivery payment remains prominent, accounting for 8.3% of sales. However, delivery methods also need careful consideration. Italy’s postal service is not the most reliable, and you might have to utilise private couriers.
Moreover, free delivery and returns are essential to Italian shoppers. Therefore, you should consider all these factors to tailor your customer service.
4. Build a Strong Online Presence
Internet usage in Italy is among the lowest in Europe, standing in the fourth-last place. Currently, only 76.3% of the population is online. However, this is a considerable increase from previous years, indicating that digitisation in Italy is growing by the day.
Combining these facts leaves a window of opportunity for your company to stand out from its online competition. Specifically, you must invest in creating state-of-the-art responsive websites that cater to the country’s high level of smartphone use.
And, of course, you can’t forget the popularity of social media platforms for e-commerce. Currently, Facebook is the most effective social media platform for reaching potential customers, with Instagram following close behind. Not only that, but Italian shoppers also like to leave product reviews on social media, which means you need to fully hon your online customer service.
5. Hire a Translation Agency
The historically low levels of internet penetration in Italy produced a limited experience with online shopping. Given this little experience, you must provide Italian language-enabled websites and culturally attuned interfaces.
For this purpose and understanding the linguistic and cultural nuances specific to the Italian market, you must enlist the help of an experienced translation service provider.
Indeed, multilingual marketing, including multilingual search engine optimisation (SEO), is crucial for gaining a solid foothold in the international market. You need to be able to translate all your content, including websites, product descriptions, blog posts, case studies, and other marketing literature.
Not only that, but you also need to localise your marketing content or adapt them to the local culture. Such a hefty task requires the services of a professional translation service.
6. Build Personal Relationships
Perhaps the most crucial capital you must have at your disposal to succeed in the Italian market is social capital. In other words, you need to have solid and vast networks within the business community.
A strong pool of social capital will undoubtedly open many doors for you and help you smoothly integrate into the local business culture. To get started, you could contact an Italian agent or collaborate with a local distributor.
The Italian market is an up-and-coming destination for expanding businesses and enterprises. But if you want to succeed in this competitive market, you need to equip yourself with the right tools, knowledge, and strategies.