E-commerce in Switzerland: The opportunities and challenges ahead

03 May, 2017

Switzerland is one of the most interesting e-commerce markets in Europe, thanks to its unique demographics, relationship with (rather than in) the European Union, and a currency exchange rate that was previously fixed by the Swiss National Bank.

A new report by FHNW et al. reveals how Swiss businesses feel about e-commerce and retail in the country, providing a valuable insight that both businesses and consumers can benefit from.

Calling on the expertise of 36 industry leaders, the Swiss E-commerce 2016 Report reveals that e-commerce is still posting healthy growth in Switzerland, growing by 10% year-on-year, while bricks-and-mortar retail remains on the decline. Also, online sales now account for 7% of total retail sales in Switzerland. However, there is a challenge for Swiss companies: in some sectors, consumers are turning to cross-border businesses for attractive offers and products.

While 6.45bn Swiss Francs are spent buying goods from Swiss businesses, 250 million Swiss Francs are now being spent abroad. In addition, the industry experts pointed out that Amazon is a potential, incoming force in the Swiss e-commerce market. Dominant in Germany, Amazon.de is popular with German Swiss consumers, but, as the report points out, Switzerland is hardly a homogenous country – in fact, Italian and French-speaking Swiss people buy from Amazon.com, while high delivery charges for Swiss consumers can deter potential customers.

Another notable feature of the Swiss market is payment preferences – credit card and PostFinance Card are very popular with the Swiss population, while PayPal dominates alternative payment methods. The report also highlights that a considerable number of shoppers choose to pay on receipt of goods,rather than paying during the online checkout process – important to note if you are considering entering the Swiss market.

Finally, the industry leaders gave some excellent advice for businesses: the art of personalisation. Having good data on your customers is essential, helping you to offer individualised offers, incentives, and recommendations that build brand loyalty. Switzerland remains a popular e-commerce market for businesses both at home and abroad.

Source: E-Commerce-Report Schweiz 2016 (German only)