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Autumn 2018

Interview with Gianluca Italia, Head of FCA Business Center Italy, Head of Business&Fleet Sales FCA Emea region

Published on 16 December 2016 by От редакции


Anastasia Varnavskaya, Head of the Automotive Portfolio at Adam Smith Conferences: What are the crucial constituents of the online sales experience for it to successfully compete with physical sales channels?

Gianluca Italia, Head of FCA Business Center Italy: Online sales do not compete with physical sales.  This activity with Amazon is a test to explore a new way for the customer to begin their purchase journey.  Today eCommerce accounts for 9% of total retail in all sectors, with growth in business of around 20% every year.  The methods to approach the car are quickly evolving: 96% of customers use the web as a conduit for information before buying.  In an Amazon survey 53% of customers declared  an interest in starting the process of purchasing a car online, but 97% of these then think that it is necessary to pick up the car from the dealer.  So, it’s a new process that involves all the stakeholders: the automotive company, web company and dealer.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: What is your target audience for this sales channel?

Gianluca Italia: By offering the opportunity to start the purchase process online, we aim to expand our potential target audience to all internet users, no matter what their age or social class, and also to newcomers.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: Is “convenience-at-your-fingertips” the main advantage of an online sales channel?


Gianluca Italia: Not only convenience, but also a facilitated choice and an extremely quick delivery time are important advantages of the online channel.


Rapidity, easiness and affordability; rapidity and easiness because the customer has the possibility to choose the vehicle from a selected range, the best sellers and those preferred by customers, and the delivery time is limited to a maximum of 2-3 weeks from the contract signature; affordability because the discounts versus list prices range from 15% to 28%, as shown in the detail page of

Anastasia Varnavskaya: At the moment you are offering three models for online sales. What were the criteria for choosing these particular models? Are you planning to increase this number?

Gianluca Italia: The Fiat 500 is our icon, our most desired and emotional car, and often the dream car of many young people who are looking for their first car.  The 500L is emotive as well, and it’s the perfect car for young families with the biggest internal space in its category.  And the Fiat Panda, our bestseller, is a car for everyone, the biggest seller in Italy.


At the moment we have focused on these 3 cars for this test.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: Does the online sales format address the demand for vehicle customisation?

Gianluca Italia: The format we are following is based on the selection of a specific vehicle configuration among those available; these cars are stored in our compound to ensure availability within 2 weeks.


Customers have the advantage of a better offer than any other that could be found outside of a Fiat Store on Amazon.


These configurations are based on the richer versions and, in addition, have been enriched with the most wanted optional extras by our customers.  In this perspective, the space for further personalisation would be limited.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: Do you envisage a certain degree of cannibalisation effect towards offline car sales channels?

Gianluca Italia: No, this online process will not interfere at all with our network business.  It is a test, and the dealer is still an important part of this new process.


What are the advantages of a virtual showroom vs a physical one for the customer and for the business?


At the moment we are only able to sell three models online, Amazon is not a showroom.  In fact the big advantage of this partnership is the possibility for the customer to choose the car 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, wherever he is; he can start his customer journey sitting on the sofa at home.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: Why was Amazon chosen as the partner for this initiative?

Gianluca Italia: We wanted to choose the best partner for this new program, and Amazon is the leader in online selling.


Anastasia Varnavskaya: What opportunities, other than car sales, does e-commerce present for the automotive industry?

Gianluca Italia: We have seen that ecommerce penetration is still low in goods whose customer journey is complex (real estate, automotive, furniture etc.) and thus it represents an opportunity.  In any case, the approach to these industries can happen in many ways and we are thinking, for instance, about a series of services that may interest one or more points in the customer journey to meet customer expectations and to make their life easier (for example online test drive booking).


Anastasia Varnavskaya: What’s next for FCA Group when it comes to car retailing?

Gianluca Italia: We always start with the customer journey in order to seek a continuous improvement.  We identify the kpi in the pre-purchase, purchase and post purchase phases in order to assess our position versus the specific competitor we are targeting.  This means, for example, evaluating our communication effectiveness, our reputation, the brand image, the satisfaction of our customers etc versus a specific model or a specific brand, following which we build our strategy which as you can imagine can be to fill the gap or to strengthen our leader position.  Our brand portfolio and very wide range give us many roads to follow.


About Gianluca Italia

Head of FCA Business Center Italy, 
Head of Business&Fleet Sales FCA Emea region

Gianluca Italia was born in Siracusa in 1972 and has a MBA at Central Connecticut State University in USA.


In 2011 he joined FCA in charge of Lancia in Italy with the responsibility for overall profitability and vehicle sales.


After a few months he was appointed Head of Brand Lancia/Chrysler for the EMEA region.


From 2012 to 2015 he was Head of Brand Fiat for the EMEA region to improve the overall Fiat Brand value and achieve the commercial targets coordinating the whole Business. He was responsible for product management, pricing, marketing planning, priorities setting in terms of market / profit opportunities in the budget process.


After  three years he was named Head of Business Center Italy for all FCA brands. In his current position, Gianluca Italia is responsible for overall profitability and the commercial performance of FCA in Italy (Fiat, Lancia, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Abarth and Fiat Professional brands), for Fleet & Business Sales and FCA Fleet & Tenders department, Network Development, Logistics and Sales Planning.


From 2016, beyond that, he was assigned the responsibility of Head of all Fleet & Business Sales for EMEA Region, for overall profitability and commercial performance.


He has extensive experience in the automotive industry, starting in 2000 in Ford Italy and Ford Europe, continuing in 2006 in General Motor Italy as Sales Director and Marketing Director.

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