Safety: a unique value

Marina Bongiorno represents a successful female entrepreneurship: over 20 years ago, she founded the first e-commerce dedicated to accident prevention, when the big players in this sector did not yet exist.

Located in the province of Bergamo, today represents the first Italian distributor of the major world brands such as Carhartt, Caterpillar and 3M, dealing with the health of workers of specific sectors like construction, hospitals, construction sites and roads, as well as beauty salons, restaurants and canteens, dental, optician or veterinary practices; any profession was well worth the attention.
You were talking about e-commerce when you still didn’t know exactly what it meant …
Thanks to a deep foresight, the ability to innovate and look at new technologies, I was able to do business by creating something that did not yet exist. When, at that time, people asked me what was my business, they could not really understand. It took a long time to get across the notion that it was possible to buy something without having to go to a physical store.
When and how was Bongiorno Infortunistica born?
It all comes from my cultural and family background. At university, I studied marketing: my professor worked at Barilla and gave me a strong large consumption imprint. Furthermore, my father worked for big brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Fendi, afterwards he was an underwear manufacturer and finally he became a wholesaler. I have always been deeply connected to fashion. With my professional project I had the precise desire to create the perfect combination between my family’s know-how and what I had studied. I don’t consider shops, catalogs and e-commerce as single entities, rather an essential whole. I grew up in Pordenone (Italy) where one of the most important US is based. From e territorial and cultural point of view, Americans had, and still have, the consolidated habit of buying through catalogs. They browsed them and after orders had been placed, the goods punctually arrived in America once a week. This type of purchase influenced and inspired me at the same time. Distance selling is the oldest way of trading. It is truly an ancient story and e-commerce is the evolution of this story. On the other hand, we shouldn’t even consider it as a point of arrival because there is still a lot to do. We are already looking beyond.
How did you get to technical workwear?
My father had a huge 8,000-square meter wholesale cash and carry shop, on two floors, that looked like the popular Italian department store La Rinascente. It was really nice. Americans didn’t like small shops because they were used to big stores already. They were asking my father to issue customer cards which became the first ones in Italy. A Gold card was given to the highest offices, while a Silver one was available for the rest of the military staff. The warehouse organization was managed in an exemplary way. One of the main departments was the one dedicated to workwear, constantly equipped with overalls, jeans, flannel shirts, underpants and wool sweaters. I remember my father managed just a few brands (two or three), including Global. At that time, there was no similar offer on the market. Regarding shoes, there was no choice, there was only one type which was not looking beautiful. When I started, with this background, I immediately tried to give a precise imprint to the website and choose brands following the good taste of mine, transmitting the typical values of Made in Italy even in this particular sector.
A perfect combination of physical, in print and e-commerce stores, organized according to the seasonality of fashion, is that correct?
Yes, it is. In February and in September, we use to launch our new catalogs but all three components are an integral part of one coherent system. The Bocconi University of Milan asked me to held lessons on e-commerce, since we represent a case study. I always tell everyone that you can’t miss logistics when thinking about e-commerce. A primary component of Amazon’s leading business is logistics with delivery free of charge. On the wave of this successful methodology, we adopted the same policy and furthermore, we also care about the products we sell, that have to comply with work regulations, taking criminal responsibility at our charge. This is a focal point; we support the need for precise information campaign and allocate investments to inform people that Assosistema, of which we are part, guarantees health protection of customers who buy on platforms like ours. Last but not least, it is important to say that we constantly train our staff about this important topic.
When did exactly Bongiorno business begin?
It was in 1990: I was still at university and I started this project by becoming a pioneer of a sales’ typology that did not yet exist. Since then, the growth has been constant while maintaining most attention to the selection of brands we sell.
How do you promote yourself?
In addition to advertising, we send more than a million catalogs by post to a specific mailing list of professionals operating throughout Italy.
What are your next steps?
We have many new projects, including new openings abroad, but I cannot reveal anything more at the moment…


Marina Bongiorno