How to conquer the Swiss online market

May 19, 2021

There is an enormous potential for e-commerce in Switzerland. You’ll need hiking equipment to keep up with it, because the growth of online sales is steep like that of a Swiss mountain. More and more international competitors successfully sell their goods on the Swiss online market, despite the challenges that come with it. Read why you should start selling your goods in Switzerland and what you should keep in mind.

Feed managementInfographic

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How to conquer the Swiss online market

Sell in the land of watches and chocolate
From 2012 to 2017, the e-commerce sector grew by 53% and this trend will continue over the next few years. Even if it took the Swiss a bit longer to use online marketplaces, nowadays Swiss consumers love to shop online. Last year, they spent almost 9 billion Swiss Francs (spread amongst only 8 million inhabitants) on the internet. In 2017, almost 20 percent of all online sales were made on webshops from abroad. According to carpathia over the next three years, foreign trade is expected to rapidly increase by another 20 percent. Now is the perfect time to start an expansion into Switzerland. Do you want to jump on the bandwagon? You can profit from the success of international marketplaces and the trend of shopping from abroad if you join the Swiss market now.

The Swiss particularities
International online retailers are on the rise and are unstoppable. But, how do you conquer a market that is resilient? This is a question raised by many online retailers who want to sell their items in Switzerland. Swiss people like Swiss products but competition from abroad is increasingly putting Swiss online retailers under pressure. The Swiss online marketplaces have to compete with vendors and marketplaces from abroad. The online marketplace, Digitec Galaxus, is still the market leader but international players in e-commerce are catching up. Players such as Amazon - who only launched in Switzerland in 2018, Zalando and AliExpress were all in the top 10 top-selling marketplaces in Switzerland last year.

Foreign vendors must make an extra effort and offer good deals to convince Swiss citizens to commit to purchasing. Alongside logistical and administrative hurdles there are further obstacles such as insufficient product information. Product specifications must be communicated as clearly as possible, which can be solved easily with a feed management tool if international vendors want to successfully sell their goods and services in Switzerland.

Climbing over the Matterhorn to reach the Swiss market
Cross-border trade in Switzerland requires some knowledge in the areas of VAT, customs clearance and logistics. In many cases, it pays off to work with logistics partners who are specialized in offering tailor-made solutions.

What are the most important points to consider when trading online from abroad to Switzerland?

  • Language: Multilingualism is an important feature of Switzerland as there are 4 official national languages spoken in the small country. If your online shop is available in at least two languages (German and French are the majorities) you already have an advantage in the Swiss market.

  • Currency: The goods and services should be offered in Swiss Francs. Not only the price but also the payment methods are decisive. According to the ecommerce news magazine, bill payment is the most popular method, but credit card, PayPal and PostFinance should not be missed. If you sell your products only on marketplaces, no need to adapt the currency on your website, because the sale will take place directly on the marketplace. Problem solved!

  • Customs and shipping: When importing your products, you must complete a customs declaration for each parcel with the price of the goods in Swiss Francs. For each package there is an import and sales tax. That sounds pretty complicated and laborious? That's why there are logistic solutions that pick up orders in your existing warehouse in Europe and process the entire import customs clearance. You don’t need a warehouse or company location in Switzerland to offer customers the same ordering convenience as Swiss e-commerce retailers. For returns, you will receive a refund for the import duties. More information can be found at the Swiss Customs Administration.

  • Taxes: Value added tax (VAT) is very low in Switzerland. It amounts to 7,7% of the assessment basis. A reduced rate of 2.5% applies for certain goods (e.g. edibles, books, magazines and medications).

The most lucrative Swiss marketplaces
The Digitec Galaxus AG and ricardo are the main Swiss marketplaces in the e-commerce market.

  • Digitec Galaxus Digitec Galaxus AG is the largest online marketplace in Switzerland. With about one million active customers, Digitec Galaxus is the #1 online store in Switzerland. It had 861 Billion revenue on the platforms and in 2017. Both marketplaces offer a broad and growing sortiment. Digitec Galaxus works with established and select vendors. As a retailer, you pay no basic fees but will be subject to a sales commission, when you sell an item. For EU merchants Galaxus offers a customs clearance solution, the EU hub. Read more about how to become a merchant.

  • ricardo is more than just a marketplace, it’s an online auction house and has a very high reach in Switzerland. The listing of products on ricardo is free. You only pay a commission fee of 9% on each sale.

The following channels are also very popular in Switzerland: Amazon, Zalando, AliExpress, Wish, Facebook, and Google Shopping.

Channable offers marketplace connections to Digitec Galaxus and ricardo, and links to many other Swiss online sales channels. With our tool you can adapt your product data according to the requirements of the marketplaces and list your products automatically on the channels.
Do you want to start selling in Switzerland? Get started and conquer the Swiss market!

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