Your shipping expert for export to Europe and the world

Christian Kautzsch  |  08.07.2024  |  Time to read 17 Min
Table of contents

How to export abroad

The world is small, distances are short. But even on the shortest paths there can be large obstacles. This applies, for example, to the transport of goods and in particular to the international transport of goods.

But no need to worry: Asendia Switzerland removes many obstacles from your path and that of your team, company or start-up.

Plan with us an export abroad and get positive feedback from your customers. A simple, practical and at the same time well thought-out concept allows you to tap into exports to the entire EU and even to export to the USA or China as required – the two most relevant and growth-assured markets besides Europe.

Use our cross border e-commerce concept and win over customers and partners across the world with your Swissness. The whole thing also works in a sustainable e-commerce concept. Find out more in our blog.

Export Switzerland


General information on international trade in goods

From the car manufacturer to the vegetable retailer to the online trainer, the boundaries for corporations and individuals in many areas have shifted, if not disappeared entirely.

Customs agreements, for example, give e-commerce more room for manoeuvre. The reasons for exporting abroad are also increasing in view of the PR options available in social networks. 

In addition, the options for international goods transport are increasing: the variety of suppliers among shipping companies is growing and growing.

However, before you take the step into the wider world and seek to export your product in all countries, we recommend that you concentrate on the European market.

You can find out everything about our neighbouring countries on our blog: Cross-border online retailing: what you have to take into account when exporting your goods abroad.

If you are thinking about exporting abroad, feel free to contact us.


An export to a neighbouring country of Switzerland is legally equivalent to an export to the USA or China, but due to its proximity to customers it presents fewer logistical challenges: consignments arrive faster.

Furthermore, there are fewer language barriers and a stronger cultural connection. Swiss quality is valued more in Germany than in Timbuktu or Bangladesh.

Experience has shown that communication with customers and partners from the surrounding area is almost seamless. All information about the market in Germany can be found in our German market analysis.

How much money do you want to put into the export?

One point that has a decisive influence on the options and success of the expansion is the cost factor.

Customers are very unlikely to order from your shop if you offer your goods with high shipping surcharges.

A popular trick: 

shipping costs are reduced, but the price of the goods is increased. Many companies attract customers with “free shipping”, “zero-point shipping” and “free delivery”. 

The opposite extreme can also be observed: the buyer only has to pay the shipping costs; the goods however are free of charge.

The delivery arrives late and does not contain the promised branded goods.

Cost cutting export EU

We therefore advise you to be absolutely transparent. Customers, suppliers and partners always have the price structure in mind.

Should the price calculation reveal inconsistencies, foreign customers quickly jump away from the deal.

In addition, customers can express themselves in rating portals via your shop including pricing policy – and scare away potential new customers.

Better: make clear the full scope of goods and shipping costs. This also facilitates accounting. Opportunities and calculable risks are explained to you directly on our blog.

Remember that shipping costs depend on two main factors: the weight and size of the consignment. In order to save shipping costs, it is worth organizing as wide a selection of packaging sizes as possible.

In this way you can optimally calculate the costs for individual orders and keep them as low as possible.

You may of course advertise combined shipping options, but you should not be too pushy in drawing attention to the option of reducing shipping costs. The same applies to free shipments of goods from a fixed order value.

Foreign customers who use online retailing place importance on fast delivery regardless of the amount of shipping costs.

Please note that shipping costs for low-value goods quickly exceed the value of the goods. This dilemma is hard to prevent.

Bulky products also have an abnormal goods-to-shipping cost ratio.

Internationalization: choosing the right market

Have you decided to expand? Then you should draw up a plan to which countries your goods should be exported primarily or exclusively, because efficient cross-border e-commerce follows successive growth phases.

Controlled growth is seen as essential in the international transfer of goods. Whether sold by e-commerce or not!

Knowing in which region Swiss quality is particularly appreciated can significantly reduce the risks involved in the export business. The Google Market Finder helps you with the initial orientation.

Swiss products enjoy a very good reputation abroad – depending on the region. In order to successfully market the Swissness of your product or your performance, you should be aware of some points.

Smart planning, successful selling

Besides the awareness of which markets (countries) are “receptive” to your product, other factors play a major role. Since the requirements in cross border e-commerce are constantly changing, you should definitely include current sources in your planning.

What steps you should take before exporting abroad, what possibilities and obligations are connected with them.

Our Export Checklist shows you how to achieve long-term success.

How to bring Swiss quality to Europe

Swiss products enjoy a very good reputation abroad – depending on the region. In order to successfully market the Swissness of your product or your performance, you should be aware of some points.

Swissness abroad

Expanding under the Swiss flag is easier than you might think in many cases: around the world, Switzerland stands for cheese, chocolate, pocket knives and watches, but many products outside this group are also appreciated as soon as they bear the “Made-in-Switzerland” label.

Since many customers are disappointed if your shop does not offer any export abroad, it is therefore worth opening up an export to the EU.

The problem is that online shop operators often shy away from the conditions that frame export abroad.

The fact that, according to a survey by Netcomm Switzerland, trust in Swiss products is cited as the greatest incentive to order Swiss products, along with the honesty and reliability of Swiss sellers, reflects the mentality of many shop operators.

Trust in Swiss products and in the reliability of the Swiss online shop are the core elements for online shopping in a Swiss shop, according to the Netcomm Switzerland survey.

But it is precisely this advantage that, conversely, is not used by Swiss shop operators, out of concern for possible dissatisfaction with delivery on the part of customers.

However, the fact that export efforts can increase customer satisfaction just as quickly is often ignored: many buyers are aware of the fact that exporting from Switzerland causes problems.

The greater the joy when the desired goods arrive. And should a problem arise during shipping, this does not mean that the goods have disappeared into thin air:

The status of a delivery can be viewed on the basis of the shipment number and an enquiry is possible at any time.

What does the term Swissness mean?

Swiss products are in high demand beyond national borders: “High Quality” is the formula associated with Swissness abroad. However, not every seller may advertise using the slogan “Made in Switzerland”.

Fortunately! Otherwise, customer confidence in Swiss products could fall rapidly.

For this reason, the criteria that goods must fulfil in order to be allowed to be marketed as Swiss goods have been clearly defined since 2017: the Trademark Protection Act (TmPA), governs the requirements that must be met in order to advertise using the term Swissness.

Article 48e provides specifically that 60 percent of the production process must be carried out in Switzerland. Accordingly, it is not sufficient to order goods from abroad, to personalize them in Switzerland and then to ship them to the wider world.

What is also important is that not only the largest but also the product-specific part of the production process must take place within Switzerland.

If a retailer advertises, for example, high-quality kitchen knives, which are distinguished by elaborately ground blades, it is not enough to cast the blades in Switzerland and then have them forged and sanded in an Eastern European country, for example.

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What should you pay attention to when exporting to Europe?

The advantages of expanding are numerous. First and foremost, the growth potential is inspiring. But to convince foreign customers of a product’s merits, it takes more than the desired Swissness.

The following chapters explain which hurdles you’ll confront on the way to becoming a successful exporter, how to overcome them and with which strategy you can optimize your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) in eCommerce.

Opportunities and dangers when expanding abroad

Every export business carries risks. Goods may not arrive in time and payment "by cash on delivery" can fail. When the advantages and disadvantages of export concepts are weighed up, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Exporting within the EU in particular opens up opportunities to profitably expand a business model.

The population density in the EU is extremely high.

Only in urban centers in India and China can higher population densities be found. However, the European market is characterized by higher purchasing power compared to the Indian or Chinese counterparts.

In the “Western world”, consumption is higher than ever before, not least because of the low interest rate policy of the European Central Bank.

Furthermore, exporting from Switzerland to neighbouring countries such as Germany  and Austria makes sense  both in terms of language and logistics.

You can easily communicate with customers, provide information, solve problems and enter into partnerships.

Last but not least, cross-border e-commerce between Switzerland and the EU Member States benefits from generous free trade agreements: regardless of the rising global punitive tariffs, trade in goods between Switzerland and the EU is guaranteed. So is political and infrastructural security.

In other words: thanks to the well-developed rail and road network, goods are delivered very quickly, the peaceful democracies guarantee legally compliant purchase transactions and no customs duties are charged for cross-border consignments up to a value of EUR 150.

Increase customer satisfaction with exports

A common reason for dissatisfied customers: shipping costs increase the cost of the product, but the customer’s requirements are not met.

The deeper one digs into one’s pocket, the higher the expectations of the buyer.

Consequently, even perfect goods can ultimately give rise to dissatisfaction. However, the decision to ship Swiss products abroad is inevitably linked to additional costs.

To ensure that Elephbo’s customers do not have to pay customs duties, the items are shipped duty paid.

Read more in the Elephbo case study.

Customs duties may be waived up to a goods value of EUR 150 thanks to the free trade agreement between the EU and Switzerland, but VAT is still payable.

If the retail value of the item is more than EUR 22, it is subject to VAT in most countries.

It is possible to pass on the VAT to the recipient by shipping by Delivered at Place (DAP), with the customer paying the fee when receiving the goods.

However, this approach leads to immense damage to your image within a very short time: customers quickly express their displeasure about the surcharge on social networks and the name of your shop or your product is associated with dubiousness.

Your expansion abroad then not only risks to fail, because the World Wide Web knows no borders: if your Swiss customers learn about the complaints, previously loyal customers will also distance themselves from your e-commerce business.

If you want to know how to send goods abroad inexpensively, you can find all the information you need in our article: Cross-border e-commerce: wow to export inexpensively to Europe.

Take the wishes of your foreign customers into consideration

Especially in the set-up phase of an export strategy, an uncoordinated shipping solution can have devastating effects.

If you have to make a name for yourself or your product abroad, bad PR can mean the premature end on the way to becoming a global shipping expert.

However, if you master the transport from the warehouse to the recipient with skilful logistics, you can count on satisfied customers.

Word-of-mouth and online publicity will help you get on your feet! Therefore, only entrust the shipping of goods to reputable and proven shipping service providers such as Asendia Switzerland. This will ensure that you will not only score points with the “Made in Switzerland” label.

A transparent price structure, reliable and fast deliveries will inspire your customers.

Wrong decision in product placement

In cross-border e-commerce as well as in domestic e-commerce, product selection and product presentation are considered important elements of a successful sales concept.

Is there “healthy” competition in the sector? Have similar approaches or products already failed? Which regional interests/customs should be taken into account when placing products?

Are certain groups of people (e.g. professional or age groups) particularly suitable as customers? You should definitely find answers to these questions before expanding and integrate them into your sales strategy in the best possible way.

Why you need to get into cross-border e-commerce

In Switzerland, there are definitely opportunities to win over customers with high-quality and innovative products.

However, the advantages offered by exporting can compensate for many domestic “weaknesses”, so expansion is inevitable for a profitable business model.

The limited Swiss market under the spotlight

Conducting trade via e-commerce in Switzerland is now a breeze.

Some types of shop software make it possible to design a website quickly and, in the age of online banking, payment processing is more convenient than ever before.

However, if you limit yourself to the Swiss market, there are real limits: the very heterogeneous population – both linguistically and culturally – cannot be consistently enthusiastic about your product. 

Due to the multilingualism, your product can also quickly become known abroad. If you have to deny interested foreign customers access to your product, there is a risk of negative feedback.

The disappointing feedback of customers from abroad is taken up in Switzerland, and the reputation of your shop dwindles.


From the point of view of the Swiss seller, the surrounding countries should be regarded as ideal export destinations.

Exporting to neighbouring countries

Exports to Austria, Germany, France and Italy can compensate for slack demand at home in view of stable gross domestic products, secure wages and high internet usage.

But why limit it to countries like Austria, Germany, France and Italy?

If you dare to take the step of exporting, you will inevitably have to deal with legal provisions such as customs duties and warranty guidelines.

As these apply throughout the EU, a gradual increase in exports to the entire EU is more a logical consequence than a question of feasibility.

To export or not to export?

Swissness enjoys a good reputation. However, different risks of exporting deter many salespeople from going international: “Less is more” or “Better to do the tried and tested well than to do the new badly” are the thoughts of many people who want to stay in the Swiss market and do not recognize the advantages of exporting, or rather don’t want to see them.

Such apprehensions are perfectly understandable.

Case studies of failed shop operators, for example, can take away the courage to expand. But times change! You have the chance to place your product more smartly than your unsuccessful predecessors and to export it cost-effectively to the whole world with Asendia Switzerland.

Why not take the step and conquer the market as a first mover?

Overview of the risks and opportunities of export trade

Hazards and obstacles

  • Low product demand abroad

  • Due to the exchange rate, the product in the EU is too expensive

  • Legal requirements for the online shop exceed the capacity of the software department

  • Excessive customs and shipping costs

  • Lack of knowledge in tax law and language barriers

  • Increased administrative costs for the shop operator (e.g. customs and tax law)

Opportunities and arguments

  • Swiss products are in demand abroad (keyword Swissness)

  • Many EU citizens are willing to pay more for the Swiss image than for domestic products

  • Online shops from Switzerland are considered very trustworthy, so the customer is prepared to pay in advance

  • The profitability of capital increases significantly with product expansion into the EU

  • If you have any questions about the requirements for your shop, we are here to help you with our experience and expertise.

  • Thanks to the shipping option by mail you can export many goods very inexpensively

To the point: requirements for a successful export concept

Given the wide range of products and sellers, it is not surprising that the expectations of the customers are very high.

The customer’s wishes must therefore be fulfilled: if you cannot offer a positive customer experience, your reputation and sales rates will decrease.

Of enormous importance, for example, is price transparency: you should always indicate the actual costs on your website. This includes the calculation of duties as well as the consideration of taxes and shipping costs.

In addition to the total landed costs, customs clearance is a further fixed point

You will quickly annoy your customers if you have your goods cleared through customs by the customer.

If the recipient has to pay for customs clearance at the front door, negative reviews and complaints are inevitable.

Better: use Asendia Switzerland as your shipping expert, take advantage of the DDP customs clearance option and provide your customers with a reliable and understandable pricing concept. Honesty is the best policy!

Honesty also includes the clear indication of the shipping status, including shipping time. Since track and trace makes it easy to locate goods consignments, this should not be an obstacle: you can provide your customers with information about the whereabouts of their order via a link.

Push mails also automatically notify you when the shipping status changes significantly.

Last but not least, in cross-border e-commerce you should consider the possibilities for returns and flexible delivery: customers do not like to be pressured and expect the option to be able to withdraw from their purchase decision.

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