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Pitti Immagine’s Online Presence Growing

Trade producer is analyzing how exhibitors and buyers at the Pitti Uomo, Pitti W and Pitti Bimbo fairs interact with the online fairs and showrooms.

MILAN — Having launched its online portal, e-Pitti, through Fiera Digitale in June 2011, trade producer Pitti Immagine is analyzing how exhibitors and buyers at the Pitti Uomo, Pitti W and Pitti Bimbo fairs interact with the online fairs and showrooms, with the goal of fine-tuning and expanding available services.

So far, e-Pitti has grown rapidly, with 50,000 visits in January, nearly triple the site’s 18,000 visits last June. About 9,000 products were on display through 65,000 photographs and 1,200 videos.

“There has been an extraordinary evolution, much more dynamic than what we expected,” said Raffaello Napoleone, chief executive officer of Pitti Immagine, adding that Pitti was focused on promoting its online services, which “are an integral part of the fairs,” and that he expects e-Pitti’s growth to continue.

In January, yarn fair Pitti Filati joined the other Pitti fairs online, with a test group of five exhibitors: Di.Vé, Filpucci, Igea, Loro Piana and Zegna Baruffa. Pitti executives were uncertain how successful Pitti Filati’s online foray would be, since yarn is difficult to showcase through images and text. However, with only 50 products online, Pitti Filati was accessed 1,500 times in the weeks following the fair, and its single product profiles, which included detailed technical information, were clicked on more than 4,000 times.

“It went very well,” said Francesco Bottigliero, ceo of Fiera Digitale. “And so we will extend the service [to all exhibitors.]”

All registered exhibitors and buyers have access to Pitti’s online fairs for a month starting the week after the events close. The online showrooms, which require additional registration fees, are accessible year-round and can showcase multiple collections in a 360-degree virtual space.

A third of visitors to e-Pitti are from outside Italy, with Spain, Japan, Germany, Russia, the U.K., Greece, the U.S. and Turkey leading the pack. Buyers from the U.S. spent the longest time looking at products online, followed closely by their Greek counterparts. In response to its heavy international traffic, Pitti will make its Web site available in Japanese starting this July, in addition to Italian and English.

“We know that to enter some markets you need to use the local language,” said Bottigliero.

Pitti has also continued to study keyword searches, or “tags,” on its Web platform. Italian buyers use the tag “Made in Italy” more frequently than foreigners, which Napoleone and Bottigliero attribute to caution in assuming products from Italian brands were made locally.

Pitti is actively promoting its online showrooms, which are growing more slowly than the online fairs. Bottigliero said many exhibitors are small companies with limited experience using Web platforms in business.

“A large number of them aren’t paying significant attention to this tool. It’s not used enough,” Napoleone added, noting Pitti is considering a “road show” to publicize the online showrooms. “We need to increase our efforts so that this platform will get used more. It’s a sales system, but it needs to be understood better.”

Some companies already using the online showrooms have turned to Pitti and Fiera Digitale for consulting advice on their own Web sites and look books. Bottigliero said there is a “digital divide” between large Italian companies that are savvy with e-commerce and smaller companies that are approaching it for the first time.

Pitti is also boosting Style Notes, a blog-like section that combines imagery and videos of select products to define seasonal trends, and a new designer platform to help promote promising young talent.