Amazon today launched a localized site for Italy, its first new international offering since acquiring Joyo back in 2004 (Amazon’s UK and Germany sites were launched in 1998, France and Japan in 2000 — the Canada site came in 2002. Full timeline available here). According to today's press release, the new offering has more categories than any new Amazon Web site has ever launched with — not surprising given the six years that have elapsed since the last international launch.
As part of its new offering, Amazon is pushing its selection of “hard-to-find Italian language items” to cater to local consumer needs — indeed, Amazon has tended to excel in its localized offerings, ranging from its varied payment methods by country to its semi-localized categories (note the “Auto and Motorcycle” category on the German Web site or the “DIY” link on the UK one).
Amazon’s choice of European markets mirrors many US online retailers’ expansion into Europe. Of the top 50 online retailers in the US, some 19 operate dedicated transactional Web sites for the UK, 14 operate sites for Germany, 12 for France and 14 in Italy. Less than 10 operate eCommerce sites localized for Spain. See the graphic from our recently published Establishing A Global Online Retail Footprint below.
Italy carries weight with US online retailers well beyond its current size or even growth rates. It’s currently the fifth largest online retail market in Europe behind the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands; its projected growth rate is lower than that in the similarly sized Spanish online retail market. However, Italy’s large economy (the fourth largest in Europe by a wide margin) and room for online shopping growth — currently just one-third of online consumers are online buyers — means it’s an attractive target for eBusinesses looking for long-term growth.