The powerful Italian shoe industry association is investing in digital technologies and recommending to its members the use of e-commerce, blogs and social network to tell the story of their products to consumers all over the world and to boost their international sales.

“The Digital Artisan” was the theme chosen by Assocalzaturifici for its latest annual convention, held in Venice on a sunny Saturday on Nov. 28. Annarita Pilotti, the new president of the association, suggested that the new digital technologies can help pass the message about Italian craftmanship to the new generations of consumers worldwide.

An Italian blogger, Mariano Di Vaio, indicated how it is strategically important now to use the internet to create an emotional experience by telling a story around a product. He and other speakers discussed the dynamic interaction among different sales experiences in the new omni-channel retail environment.

They produced data showing that three out of seven billion people worldwide have access to the internet. In Europe, where online sales represent 6 percent of the total retail market, 231 million shop online. A study of 19 million smartphone users shows that 13.6 percent of them go to a store after browsing through the internet and eight million of them get information on the web while they are in the store.

The internet is strongly used in China. Therefore, after various past experiments with e-commerce, Assocalzaturifici has decided to link up with a social network application, We Chat Italia, that already has more than 550 million active users worldwide, including more than 35 million online buyers in China.

As part of its efforts in this domain, Assocalzaturifici is also working a new, integrated digital platform that should be launched at next February's edition of theMicam, providing information on fashion trends, developments in the industry and its services. It has already started to conduct online seminars on various topics.