By  on December 19, 2011

MILAN — Yarn fair Pitti Filati will join parent trade producer Pitti Immagine’s fledgling online fairs initiative next month.

It joins sibling shows Pitti Uomo, Pitti W and Pitti Bimbo, which launched their online versions at e-Pitti.com through Fiera Digitale in June.

Pitti Immagine is also developing its online showrooms, which it launched in September, and using information gleaned from the online fairs to better understand what products most interest buyers. Pitti’s online fairs are available to all registered exhibitors and buyers for one month starting the week following events. They include an extensive array of photographs and videos taken at the fairs, prolonging visibility for exhibitors.

Pitti’s online showrooms are available year-round, potentially showcasing multiple collections. So far, about 50 exhibitors have signed up for the service, which allows them to display their product images in a 360-degree virtual space, highlighting those they most want to promote and updating as they see fit. Exhibitors can also discover which of their items are most popular and limit access to their showrooms by geographic area or other criteria. The cost to set up an online showroom is 2,200 euros, or about $2,850 at current exchange rates, with an additional monthly fee of 250 euros, or $325.

Buyers, whose busy schedules often prohibit them from visiting all stands at any given fair, can use the online showrooms to take a closer look at products they may have seen only in passing, and to create wish lists of items that they can preorder directly with exhibitors.

“E-Pitti.com’s online platform is growing,” said Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine. “It now involves all of the Pitti fairs, and completes the services available to our exhibitors. It’s an important evolution of this project, and an opportunity that we believe will become increasingly strategic for companies and the future of fashion business.”

At a press presentation on Dec. 14, Napoleone described online fairs and showrooms as a “visual map” and “extension of the physical experience.” He emphasized the growing need for a sophisticated online presence to drive business.

Francesco Bottigliero, ceo of Fiera Digitale, noted that for smaller firms, the new platforms represent “an opportunity for them to reach markets where they have never been present.”

Pitti has also been analyzing how buyers are using its online fairs. In June, Web visitors had access to 1,080 stands, 8,000 products, 60,000 images and 1,000 videos. The site recorded 18,000 visits over a six-week period, with 125,000 page views from buyers in 50 countries. While 70 percent of visitors were Italian, the remaining 30 percent included buyers from the U.S., U.K., France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Belgium. The average visit to the site was 20 minutes, with some countries registering especially long visits: the average U.S. buyer spent 32 minutes on the site.

Based on the most commonly entered words in the site’s search engines, Pitti was able to identify buyers’ interests, and also to compare product appeal between Italian and international buyers. “Casual chic” was among the most frequently searched terms for men’s and women’s wear, while “cotton” ranked high in children’s wear. Analysis of the most viewed items, for example, revealed that Italian buyers had more conservative tastes in men’s wear than their foreign counterparts.

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