Swiss consumers are very receptive to foreign brands so, if you’re ready to expand your e-commerce business overseas, Switzerland is a great choice. A well established transport infrastructure and high local purchasing power present significant opportunities for brands looking to build links to a wealthy consumer base in this part of the world.
The Swiss Market – a few facts
- Switzerland has been named the most competitive economy in the world for eight years in a row by the World Economic Forum.
- Swiss consumers favour international stores – around two thirds of online purchases in Switzerland are cross border.
- E-commerce in Switzerland was worth €5.27 billion in 2017
- Swiss business-to-consumer e-commerce turnover grew by 8.7% in 2017
What you need to know when exporting to Switzerland
- Clothing remains the most popular category for online purchases and is also the most frequently searched category on digital devices, according to the E-commerce Foundation.
- Swiss consumers are tolerant. Annoyance rates are just 5% - the most common complaints that Swiss customers have when ordering online relate to tech failures and delivery times.
- Mobile use is high in Switzerland. Around 75% of Swiss people have a smartphone and more and more are using their devices to shop online.
- Value-based quality is crucial for successfully establishing a presence in the Swiss market. Swiss consumers already have a lot of choice so, if you’re planning on exporting to Switzerland, it’s important that your products or services hit the right balance of good value and high quality.
- English is widely spoken. However, it’s not an official language in Switzerland and many Swiss consumers still expect to see website content or product labeling in their own native tongue. In Switzerland that could be one of four local languages: French, German, Italian or Romansh.
- Delivery cost is key. Anything over CHF 100 and most consumers in Switzerland will expect the cost of delivery to be free. For regular deliveries, Swiss shoppers won’t want to pay more than CHF 6-8.
- Hidden costs are really off-putting to Swiss consumers and you could easily lose a potential purchase if the price suddenly shoots up just before checkout. Many Swiss shoppers prefer to see an “all in” price up front that factors in not just the cost of the purchase but also delivery and any custom duties that might be due.
- Customs are different in Switzerland. This is one of the few countries in the world that calculates customs duties based on weight – the heavier the items the more duty has to be paid.
Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Switzerland
- It’s easy to reach consumers here. Internet penetration is at 95% so there are few areas of the country where people aren’t potentially reachable.
- Switzerland has Europe’s highest per capita income – local consumers are wealthy and ready to spend.
- The VAT (7.7%) in Switzerland is low compared to many EU countries.
- Flight times are just two hours from the UK to Switzerland, which means a wide range of delivery options can be offered.
- Public infrastructure is excellent and transport networks are very reliable.
- The legal and regulatory environment is similar to that of the UK so product requirements that apply here will be similar in Switzerland.
- English is widely spoken in Switzerland. While you may still need to provide content and labeling in local languages, when it comes to customer service and marketing you can use English to ensure better communication.
- Market similarities mean that products that do well in the UK also have a high chance of succeeding in Switzerland.
There are some very significant advantages to exporting to Switzerland for e-commerce businesses in the UK. From improved profile to an increase in profits, success can be impressive and long-lasting.
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