A new customer base with specialist purchases: the message from Netcomm

Fiera Milano, Rho


A new customer base with specialist purchases: the message from Netcomm

The Italian Digital Commerce Consortium and TUTTOFOOD partner reports consolidation in the industry. Chairman Roberto Liscia explains how verticalization will bring Grocery new online customers.

If many Italians discovered e-commerce during the pandemic, 2021 was the year that proved it. After the extraordinary boom in 2020 (+146%), in 2021, e-commerce in retail reported further growth of 23.5% reaching sales worth €1.8 billion in total, equal to 2.5% of the turnover of the entire FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) sector. To the point that the push of online sales compensates for the downturn in sales at physical stores, generating a 0.4% increase in overall sales for retailers.


In addition, by breaking total Grocery sector growth down into its product categories, it becomes clear that not only does e-commerce boost the overall trend, but it also boosts performance in all segments. This is what has emerged from data from the fourth edition (December 2021) of the Digital FMCG Observatory by Netcomm in collaboration with NielsenIQ. 75% of respondents said the Internet is their primary source when looking for information about products and services, while 69% use it to discover new brands.


“Even taking the latest international developments into account, no substantial changes to this scenario are noticeable at the moment,” comments Roberto Liscia, Chairman of Netcomm. “The pandemic already made us used to considering digital as a key 'outlet' in difficult times: this was confirmed in 2021 and, presumably, will continue in 2022. Food transactions are already close to two billion Euro, and this is due to digital features: services in terms of selection, research, price and repetitiveness of the service as a guarantee of quality, which the consumer has greatly appreciated.”


“Grocery differs from other e-commerce sectors because there is actually in no ‘standard’ multichannel, as with durable goods,” Liscia continues, “where, for example, I try a product in store then purchase it online, or return a product purchased in the physical store via online. Except with high-end packaged specialities, this is not the case in Grocery. So it's all about the individual experience, driving even higher standards of quality.”


What we are noticing instead,” concludes the Netcomm Chairman, “is growing specialisation, not just in established segments, such as wine, but also in new niches, such as pet food. At the same time, consumers who don't generally buy online are also 'specialising' in doing so for certain products. And this verticalization of buying behaviours is creating a user base that will slowly mix, resulting in the acceleration of overall digital buying in terms of volume.”


Netcomm is a TUTTOFOOD partner and, alongside Fiera Milano, is organising FOCUS FOOD in October 2022, a major event focused on the online food&beverage scenario, with keynotes and speeches in plenary sessions from top players and parallel sessions in which journalists, marketers and chief digital officers talk, offering case histories to an audience of specialist operators as well as new ways of detecting demand