What consumers expect from an e-Commerce brand in Switzerland

22 August, 2018
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Swiss consumers are very open to buying from foreign e-Commerce brands – 61 - 64% of online purchases in Switzerland are now cross border. This country of just over 8 million people has some of the highest online spending habits, coming second only to the UK with respect to online purchasing.

Successfully tapping into this exciting maturing market means understanding its peculiarities, as well as the expectations that Swiss consumers have of the e-Commerce brands that they are willing to buy from.

How big is the Swiss market

Around 70% of the population in Switzerland shopped online in the last three months. High internet penetration rates mean that it’s easy for local consumers to access online stores and purchase at their own convenience. Switzerland has repeatedly been named as the most competitive economy in the world by the World Economic Forum and e-Commerce is being widely embraced both by consumers and by the government. With growth of 8.7%, the b2c e-Commerce market now has a value of CHF 6.25 billion. Over the next year growth of 10% has been predicted and turnover has been forecast for Swiss e-Commerce at €7 billion. Fashion, in particular, is a growth area for Swiss e-Commerce – currently this product category makes up around 57% of e-retail purchases, which is the largest share of any product type.

What Swiss customers look for in a brand

Like any country, local consumers in Switzerland have their own preferences and expectations when it comes to the brands that they buy from.

  • Transparent pricing. Hidden costs and fees are one of the biggest barriers to purchase with Swiss consumers, who expect the e-Commerce brands that they buy from to be completely transparent when it comes to costs. It’s often preferable to Swiss consumers to be offered an “all in” price up front, which includes the cost of the item, delivery, as well as any potential additional costs such as customs duties.
  • Value-quality pricing. Achieving the right price will be important for brands keen to be successful in Switzerland. Swiss consumers look for value-based quality - a balance between value for money, quality and choice.
  • Mobile e-Commerce. Swiss consumers are increasingly turning to devices such as smart phones to access the internet and, often, to make purchases online. 75% of Swiss people now use smart phones and this figure is predicted to rise. Swiss consumers expect the e-Commerce brands that they buy from to accommodate this kind of preference, offering mobile friendly websites and payment options that make it easier to make purchases on the move.
  • Low delivery costs. Swiss consumers don’t tend to expect free delivery when it comes to buying from overseas brands. However, they are unwilling to pay high fees for shipping – most will be put off by delivery fees that amount to more than €5-7. The same is not true of returns, as there is no automatic right of return for consumers in Switzerland. So, if you’re a business offering returns then Swiss consumers are usually open to covering some or all of the cost. This may change as more and more brands begin to offer free returns to become more competitive and attractive to Swiss consumers.
  • Language options. English is widely spoken in Switzerland but is not one of the official languages. Whether it’s with respect to product labeling or information on web pages, many Swiss consumers expect to see content available in their own tongue - German, French or Italian.

Switzerland is an active market of wealthy consumers supported by strong digital infrastructure and logistics networks. For any business it is an appealing location to export into.

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