The Italian Trade Agency has pledged to enable 300 local SMEs to digitize on Alibaba.com, an initial step of the government’s long-term mission to help boost export and foster online growth.
Earlier this year, Alibaba’s B2B trade platform ramped up online efforts to connect Italian businesses with international opportunities when offline sales were paralyzed by the pandemic. Those who signed up to launch their stores since April are already seeing initial inquiries and new leads online, a sales cycle that typically takes somewhere between six to nine months to form offline.
“E-commerce is essential for the recovery of ‘Made in Italy’ because it offers a valuable contribution to support companies, affected by the slowdown in traditional forms of purchase due to Covid-19,” said Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio at a virtual memorandum of understanding signing hosted by Alibaba in late November. “In the next few years, digital will increasingly constitute the driving force for export growth, and I trust that Italian companies will be able to fully explore its potential, operating effectively in an increasingly open and competitive international context.”
Italy is one of the fastest-growing markets outside of China according to the platform, the country has a strong reputation for quality products across top categories such as food and beverage, machinery, apparel, beauty and personal care. The market has shown a strong willingness to pivot online with 85% of businesses surveyed by Alibaba.com saying they will accelerate investments in digitization this year – a much-higher percentage than their European peers. This April, the number of registered Italian businesses on the site effectively grew by nearly 250% month-over-month.
To help get them ready to export, Alibaba.com will provide 24/7 dedicated onboarding support. Their two-year memberships and additional advertising credits are being funded by the Italian government. All Italian merchants will have the opportunity to have their products showcased on Alibaba.com’s “Made in Italy” online pavilion, a dedicated channel that reaches the platform’s 26 million active buyers.
Additionally, more than 400 businesses have already signed up to use Alibaba.com’s educational offerings and online training. The local team has gathered key panel speakers for industry-specific webinars to inspire companies to “rethink their digital strategy and operations, to increase their competitive edge and ultimately expand their reach and global footprint” said Daniel Zheng, general manager of Europe at Alibaba.com.
The backbone of the Italian economy – a large portion of brick-and-mortar as well as family-own businesses – is also set to benefit from the tie-up with Alibaba.com. For example, Crimark Srl, a 20-year-old, family-run Italian coffee company, has found new opportunities to export through Alibaba.com. The quality and reputation of Italian coffee has taken the merchant far beyond local market, and within a year of onboarding, the company is now selling to customers in France, Germany, the U.S., UK and Greece.
“Before Alibaba.com, we never exported. We are only a small family-run coffee company, but Alibaba.com has helped us understand how to export and enabled us to realize our export dream,” said Claudio Trenta, general manager of Crimark.
For pasta machine maker Tagliapasta, online success came even faster. Its first transaction was concluded within just one month of onboarding. The company’s craftmanship in culinary utensils and machines for making fresh pastas particularly attracted buyers from Canada, now a steady source of bulk orders for the Bologna-based business.
“Together with ITA, Alibaba Group reaffirms its commitment to support Italian companies and entrepreneurs with solutions and skills that strengthen their path of expansion in global markets, bringing the excellence and uniqueness of our country around the world thanks to online commerce,” said Rodrigo Cipriani, general manager of Southern Europe for Alibaba Group.
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