Translate English to Italian: Best Practices in Expanding to Amazon Italy

Sep 8, 2023



Rounding off YLT Translations’ Pan European Combo Package is Italian — so let’s get into what to consider when you translate English to Italian. These considerations arise when localizing content for Amazon Italy, #5 on the Top 10 European Marketplace List. Around 63 million people in the world speak Italian as their first language, and 3 million people speak it as a second language, making Italian around the 20th most-spoken language in the world, according to Babbel Magazine. Italian is also spoken in San Marino, Switzerland, the Vatican City, and in certain parts of Croatia and Slovenia. There’s also a healthy population of Italian speakers all over the world – think Albania, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the United States. Consider that Italy had the 4th largest share in EU GDP total in 2017, and ranked 8th worldwide as having the world’s largest GDP. In short, it’s a pretty healthy economy to partake in. You most definitely have a target market to consider in amazon.IT.

In this week’s blog, we delve deep into why you should translate English to Italian, the health of the Italian eCommerce market and Amazon Italy itself, the Italian consumer, and difficulties that you might face when trying to localize to an Italian market.

Why Translate English to Italian? The Health of Amazon Italy

According to Statista, Amazon amassed 8.75 billion euros in Italy in 2021. In August 2023, Amazon.IT ranked number 1 as the most visited eCommerce & Shopping website, followed closely by subito.it, then by ebay.it in 3rd place. Furthermore, in the first quarter of 2023, Amazon Italy counted around 35.7 million unique users in Italy — an increase since 2019, when Amazon Italy only counted 30.8 million users.

Now, there are more than 20 Amazon warehouse and fulfillment centers in Italy, making it much easier to cater to your Italian customers. You’re counting places like Castel San Giovanni, Milan, and Parma, along with many others interspersed around the country. Italy and Spain both offer Amazon Premium, which allows for quick delivery of a single business day.

FBA is quite healthy in Italy; Selling Partners in Italy who switched to Fulfilment by Amazon generally saw a sales uptick of 50% due to faster shipping. This percentage is derived from a channel-specific data analysis spanning Q4 2019 to Q4 2020, but excludes Q2 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s influence.

Covid-19 and Amazon Italy: Bouncing Back

Any seller exploring the possibility of selling to Amazon Italy might take pause at expanding to this romantic market, because of the history of the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’re addressing these issues in this short section, to assure you that the Italian market is ready and willing to welcome your business.

In 2021, Mariangela Marseglia, VP Country Manager of Amazon.it and Amazon.es, was quoted as saying: “We’ve invested heavily in the Italian economy and in its people, more that €8.7 billion so far, and we are employing more than 12,500 talented individuals who receive competitive pay and comprehensive benefits from day one. I’m particularly proud of how our growing team and our investment on behalf of customers and Italian small businesses contribute to Italy’s recovery, creating thousands of additional jobs through indirect effects and opening up new opportunities for colleagues, selling partners, service providers, and suppliers.”

In 2020, the World Economic Forum reported that Italy ranked 4th in the world for Covid-related deaths. In 2019, Italy had the oldest population in Europe, with 22.8% of its people over 65 years old. but the country also has a high life expectancy of 83 years. According to Statista, 31% of those polled indicated that they are buying goods online more often, as an after-effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, older consumers who initially turned to e-commerce as a physical distancing measure may continue to maintain their new shopping habits. A global survey by McKinsey also indicates that first-time users have significantly contributed to the adoption of digital and low-touch services, including curbside pickup from restaurants in countries like France, Germany, Italy, South Africa, the UK, and the US, as well as from other types of stores in Italy, South Africa, the UK, and the US. (more information in this article)

In short, Covid-19 may have been a real low point in Italy’s history, but it appears that the country bouncing back admirably. Opportunities abound, and structures that were implemented to staunch the spread of the disease have been adopted as a way of life. Italy’s ecommerce market is ripe for the picking.

ECommerce in Italy: Other Players and Top Products

Although Amazon Italy is the top eCommerce player in the country, other marketplaces include:

  1. Tipiliano
  2. Amore Animale Shop
  3. FacmaciaLoreto
  4. AOSOM
  5. Eurocali
  8. acquaverde
  9. Esplodia

Growing sectors include food and beverage, tourism, luxury goods and fashion, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, textiles, shoemaking industry, and transport. Furthermore, the top 10 best selling products in Italy in 2022 were:

  • Coffee
  • Footwears
  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Pasta
  • Books
  • Packaged food & beverages
  • Pharmacy Items
  • Watches
  • Music Items
  • Home Items
  • Fashion Accessories

(source: USA Business)

Common Issues When Translating English to Italian

There’s a reason why Italian is the language of operas and composers. It’s absolutely stunning. The country is breathtaking, the food is phenomenal, and there’s very little not to love about this amazing country. Nevertheless, there are 3 common issues that translators face when they translate English to Italian:

  • Grammar is a significant challenge in translating English to Italian. Italian grammar, deeply rooted in Latin, has specific rules for word order and sentence structure that must be followed for a translation to be credible. This is why machine translations just won’t work when you translate English to Italian.
  • Italian uses gendered nouns, which influence the accompanying adjectives and definite articles. This is complex for translation since English nouns are not gendered and often don’t require definite articles for general concepts.
  • Although the Italian alphabet contains all the letters found in the English alphabet, the letters j, k, w, x, and y are not native to Italian and are only used for foreign words.

Now, unlike German, Italian words may be longer or shorter than their English counterparts. This may create added complexity when computing for the amount of real estate that words will take up in your A+ and infographics. You might end up having to rewrite some stuff in order for the copy to fit.

Take a look at these words:

  • Organization – Organizzazione
  • Hospitality – Ospitalità
  • Fish – Pesce
  • Television – Televisione
  • Environment – Ambiente

Just for fun, here are some Italian words that have no direct translation into English. In order to resonate with your Italian customer better, it’d be a good idea to infuse colloquialisms into your text, so your Italian customer feels that you’re on the same page as they are. A native speaker can help you do this with ease (and we talk more about the benefits of hiring native translators in this blog).

  • Gattara: A woman, often elderly, who devotes herself to taking care of stray cats.
  • Culaccino: The mark left on a table by a wet glass.
  • Pantofolaio: Someone who lounges around the house; a homebody or a couch potato.
  • Abbiocco: The drowsy feeling you get after eating a big meal.
  • Furbo: More than just clever or cunning; it’s a kind of smartness that may involve bending or breaking the rules in an almost admirable way.
  • Sprezzatura: A kind of effortless elegance, the ability to make difficult things look easy.
  • Dolce far niente: The sweetness of doing nothing, or idly enjoying life’s pleasures.
  • Menefreghismo: A kind of indifferent, “I don’t care” attitude.
  • Struscio: The act of walking up and down a street, showing off and looking at other people, generally performed in Italian towns on holidays or weekends.
  • Gioia: While it technically translates to “joy,” the cultural weight behind the word in Italian signifies a more profound sense of happiness that extends beyond simple joy.
  • Salve: A greeting that’s more formal than “Ciao” but less formal than “Buongiorno” or “Buonasera.” It doesn’t have an exact English counterpart.

A Peek Into the Italian Customer’s Wants and Needs

Thinking about catering to the Italian consumer’s wants and needs? It’s an intimidating prospect; the Italians, like their French counterparts, are known for discerning and sophisticated tastes in retail. Let’s take a look at the customers that buy from Amazon Italy, and what they’re looking for.

The demographic landscape in Italy is evolving. The median age has been on a gradual climb, moving from 44 in 2010 and projected to reach 51 by 2030. This older demographic comes with substantial purchasing power, so consider catering to a Gen X demographic with your product selection. In fact, according to SimilarWeb, the top 5 social media networks (as of August 2023) are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. What’s App
  4. Twitter
  5. TikTok

Yes, Facebook is still popular in Italy! Consider these networks when fashioning an external marketing strategy to advise the Italian public that your brand matters.

However, don’t overlook the younger Italian generation. There has been a noticeable uptick in single-person households in recent years; 31% of Italians live alone, and in major cities like Milan, that figure jumps to 52%. Younger Italians are delaying marriage and having fewer children, leading to greater disposable income than ever before. Fueled by a bleak outlook on long-term financial security, they’re inclined to spend rather than save, with a particular fondness for high-end and luxury items. Nothing surprising there, right? Italy’s always been known for its keen eye for luxury.

Nevertheless, when exploring Italy’s luxury goods market, it’s crucial to note that elevated pricing isn’t the key. Only 15% of Italians equate a higher price with premium quality. Instead, they pay close attention to the materials and ingredients used.

The significance of craftsmanship can’t be overstated, given its roots in Italian heritage. Nearly all Italian businesses are small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), reinforcing the image of devoted artisans putting their heart and soul into their creations. That heritage lives on, well into the 21st Century. These are time-tested traditions that don’t see any signs of stopping.

This focus on origin extends to consumer preferences for goods, making the ‘Made in Italy’ label exceptionally attractive. Faced with options, Italians typically opt for local products, posing a challenge for foreign brands.

So what’s the strategy? First, align your brand with Italian values by emphasizing the exceptional quality of your product. Don’t just stop there; highlight the people, passion, and story behind your brand. Share your brand’s heritage and driving principles, and think strategically about how to add a premium touch to your offerings. Now, that’s why localization is crucial; a native Italian speaker would know the exact phrasing you’d need to employ in your listing to resonate with your target market.

Let’s consider these demographics: 

  • Population close to 59 million, with a slight female majority.
  • Young population (0-14) is small, majority aged 15-64, and nearly a quarter aged 65 or older.
  • Median age is among the highest in Europe.
  • Declining birth rate and aging population.
  • Smaller household sizes; about one-third are single-person households.
  • Majority reside in urban areas, particularly in regions like Lombardia, Lazio, and Campania.
  • Decrease in university attendance over recent years.
  • Relatively low percentage of 25-64 age group with tertiary education.
  • Majority of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education.
  • Workforce of nearly 23 million; significant portion are independent workers.
  • High percentage of freelance workers compared to other European countries.

Here are some additional considerations for the eCommerce seller:

  • High level of mass consumption in Italy, but spending habits adjusted due to economic factors like financial crises and the pandemic.
  • Declining consumer confidence in early 2022, driven by economic uncertainty, global events, and inflation.
  • Focus on quality over promotions; strong preference for ‘Made in Italy’ goods, though foreign products also popular.
  • Significant rise in online shopping, including for food; over 33 million Italians shopped online in the last quarter.
  • Majority of consumers use both online and physical stores; a third research online before purchasing in-store.
  • Shifting brand loyalty; increasing willingness to try new brands and outlets.
  • Heavy reliance on internet and social reviews; Italy has the highest ratio of influencers per capita in the EU.
  • Strong trend towards sustainability and high-welfare standards in consumer choices.


So, when you’re considering expansion to Europe, don’t leave Italy out, especially if your product can cater to a Generation X demographic — or a modern-thinking younger population from the sophisticated cities. You’d definitely want to engage a native translator to help you translate English to Italian in a way that resonates with the Italian market’s discerning tastes — and to overcome the “Made in Italy” bias.

The Italian market is a romantic one, elegant and traditional in nature, a testament to true-blue European sensibilities. It’s definitely worth a look.

Curious if Italy is a good market for your product? YLT’s AMOR report can remove the mystique. Check it out before you expand.

Also, consider our other blogs on expanding to European marketplace – we’ve written about Spain, Germany, and France. Which country do you think your product will do best in?