Slide Booklets


Food & Grocery in Italy: has e-commerce delivered?


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  • Date September 25, 2017
  • Observatory eCommerce B2c
  • Language English
  • Pages 40
  • Type Market Insight

Responds to...

  • How much does Food & Grocery contribute to the development of B2C e-commerce in Italy?
  • Who are the main players in the sector and which are the successful business models?
  • What is the share of Food in Food & Grocery?
  • How is the B2C e-commerce demand split within the three segments: Grocery Food, Gastronomy & Wine and Catering?
  • Which categories of Food & Grocery products are the ones consumers buy most online?
  • Which are the most wide-spread and most used multi-channel pathways for Food & Grocery?
  • How can the online channel help in the export of traditional local products from Italy?
  • Which are the main directions of innovation for online Food & Grocery?


Food is at the top of the list in every shopping basket in Italy, but e-commerce has yet to take off in this sector. In 2017, the online Food & Grocery market was worth 812 million euros, a measly 0.5% of overall retail purchases in the sector. This value is one tenth of the average penetration of e-commerce for products in general (4%), and is appreciably lower than that recorded for Food & Grocery in the more evolved international e-commerce markets (8% in UK, 6% in France and 2% in Germany and USA).
And just what are the reasons for this? There are probably all sorts of reasons, but the main one is that there is no real offer, a factor that has afflicted the Italian market for years, and is still, in part, a feature of it. To pass its test and show its maturity, the Food & Grocery offer must first come up with initiatives that can provide nation-wide cover and a more or less homogenous service from North to South and from large cities to the outskirts. Many Grocery and Catering initiatives are peppered around the country, with clusters found only in the great cities (Milan, Rome...) and a few regions (above all, Lombardy). This is outcome of an often very experimental and diffident approach to e-commerce in Italy and the traditional operators are not injecting either the right effort or the best resources into the project, not having yet grasped its strategic importance.
This snapshot does is not paint a rosy picture but, in our opinion, this will inevitably change. We are observing a change in gear that can be traced to various circumstances, with new mass retail initiatives being activated and the existing ones strengthened, the exciting projects in the field of gastronomy and wine that are gaining ground, the growth of innovative services, such as same day delivery services, and the rapid expansion of the ready meal sector.
E-commerce expanding within Food is certainty good news for the entire B2C e-commerce sector, because of its direct effects and also its indirect impact on other product sectors, with the resulting increase in maturity, trust and knowledge among online buyers.