March 15, 2012, 12:13 PM

Amazon purchases are in the (Italian) mail

Italian postal carriers deliver packages and take payments for Amazon.it.

Lead Photo

The Italian postal service, Poste Italiane, has begun a trial in which its carriers will deliver goods ordered from Amazon.com Inc.’s Italian web site, and in some cases accept payment.

Consumers will have the option of paying for purchases at Amazon.it or paying via a credit card when the postal carrier delivers the goods. Postal workers are being equipped with palm-sized, card-reading devices so they can accept payment, Poste Italiane says.

The trial launched at the end of February and will continue throughout the year, with 6,500 post offices delivering Amazon parcels to cities and towns of over 30,000 residents. If the trial is successful, it will roll out next year to all 15,000 post offices nationwide. Currently, delivery is free with this service, but next year consumers will have to pay for it.

"E-commerce is booming and the deal with Amazon opens new scenarios for postal delivery,” says Massimo Sarmi, CEO of Poste Italiane. “Customers can receive, pay and collect the goods ordered online with no queues at the counters, and even wait or work at home as required. The customers will have the choice as to when they pay, while it will be our onus to return to sender in case of customer dissatisfaction. "

The agreement with Amazon allows the Italian postal service to offer a new service in a fast-growing arena at a time when the volume of paper mail is declining, says Andrea Spedale, founder and president of Italian e-commerce association Aicel, which claims a membership of more than 9,000.

“Italian Post has assessed the market and made ​​some bold strategic choices to invest in e-commerce,” Spedale says. “Electronic commerce is rapidly expanding, while the volume of paper mail is set to drop another 30% over the next five years.” Spedale estimates online retail sales in Italy in 2011 totaled around 10 billion euros (US$13 billion). Italian e-commerce consortium Netcomm estimates online retail sales in Italy last year came in at about 8 billion euros (US$10.5 billion).

Poste Italiane says the electronic postman service will go beyond Amazon. It is currently preparing an agreement with the National Pharmacy Federation for home delivery of hospital medicines from its website, Federfarma.it.

Amazon launched its Italian site in November 2010 and opened its first Italian distribution center last year to coordinate delivery of over 1 million SKUs sold on the site.

Amazon is the No. 1 retailer in Internet Retailer’s new Top 400 Europe.

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