Export to Switzerland
What are the customer requirements for Swiss e-commerce?
Swiss people love online shopping
If you have read our article about importing into Switzerland, you know the country is an excellent country for imports.
Swiss people are increasingly shopping in foreign online shops. 19% of all Swiss online purchases are made with foreign providers.
Thanks to increased mobility and confidence in the digital world, Swiss people have a low inhibition threshold to buy from foreign online providers. Unsurprisingly, the most important reason behind a Swiss consumer abandoning an online purchase with an international vendor is that the store does not deliver to Switzerland. Use the following insights to help your business!
Open to foreign online shops
Foreign products are very popular with Swiss people, and it makes no difference to them whether their order comes from Switzerland or abroad.
Older people still have reservations, but Millennials, for example, are completely open to deliveries from abroad.
Take a quick look at this table. It shows you the reasons for an order cancellation while shopping online:
Swiss shoppers appreciate convenient shopping, price is secondary
The freedom from restricted opening hours and convenience are the reasons why Swiss people shop online. Of course, when it comes to convenience, it is precisely the fact the purchase is delivered to your home that is the biggest attraction.
Swiss online shoppers also appreciate the fact that they can find and compare offers more easily on the Internet. However, note that for Swiss people price does not play a big role: only 34% consider price to be the main factor in a purchasing decision.
However, price is a much more decisive factor when it comes to cross-border e-commerce: 65% of respondents say that they have shopped abroad because the price was particularly low.
Good availability is important to Swiss people
Swiss customers also value the availability and the wide range of products. There are products that are poorly available in Switzerland or even not available at all.
Convenient one-click shopping - this is what the Swiss want
Swiss people want to shop in comfort so it is important to optimise the e-commerce shopping experience. We’ll take a look at exactly how in this section.
As a reminder: Swiss customers shop online for these reasons:
- Shopping in the online shop is simple and convenient.
- The products on offer are cheaper than in Switzerland or are not available.
In which countries do Swiss people buy online?
Where do you think the Swiss shop most? Take a quick look at this table:
As you can see, most Swiss online purchases are made in Germany. The proximity to Germany and the shared language help Swiss people to trust these e-commerce retailers and feel secure in their purchase.
The wide range of products is also a positive for German online shops.
The second largest import country is China - with increasing import volumes. Swiss customers order products from China because the prices are much lower than in their own country.
Switzerland's neighbouring countries are in demand
The table shows that Swiss consumers shop mainly in neighbouring countries. As already mentioned, geographical proximity and the same or known language play a major role. For example, close proximity means shorter delivery times.
If you want to get started right away, or if you have more questions, contact us here for individual and free advice.
Shipping to Switzerland: What you have to consider
The Swiss have high standards - and this is no different when it comes to delivering their orders from abroad.
Good news: 85% of cross-border deliveries to Switzerland weigh less than 2kg on average (figures from 2018), and items weighing less than 2kg can be sent via the inexpensive letter channel.
With Swiss Post you can send your items by letter or parcel channel and save a lot of money on delivery costs.
Avoid cancellation of orders through transparency
The Swiss cite hidden costs as the second most common reason for cancelling an order. With this in mind, always state ALL costs clearly and transparently before the order is completed.
Delivery costs and shipping options have a big influence
Free shipping and free returns have long been established in online trade, and Swiss customers also appreciate them. This is particularly true for free shipping for orders above a certain amount.
Note that 71% of Swiss customers stated that the expensive delivery fee was the reason for their order being cancelled.
Being able to select the shipping option is another important delivery service. The Swiss are quite traditional in this respect: most of them would like to have the delivery sent to their home.
Where is the package? Tracking knows!
Swiss people appreciate being able to track the shipment. All shipping options of Swiss Post are therefore available with tracking.
Another demand from Swiss customers is to receive notice ahead of delivery. Upon receipt of this advance notice, many customers appreciate being able to customise the delivery and postpone it to a desired date.
Tolerant of delivery dates
Whether or not delivery is made on the same day is less of a concern for Swiss people, with only 24% stating that this is important. In cross-border e-commerce, this point is almost completely omitted, with only 8% stating it as important.
Swiss customers understand that a delivery from abroad requires a longer delivery time. Whether the shipment is delivered in the morning or in the evening is only important for 20% of Swiss people.
Sustainability in e-commerce
Sustainability is on everyone's lips, and the subject doesn't stop at e-commerce either!
Switzerland in particular attaches great importance to sustainability: 60% of Swiss consumers would like to have their consignment delivered in a CO²-neutral way.
What is the right packaging?
For many Swiss customers, sustainable packaging is more important than a CO²-neutral shipment, with 64% of Swiss consumers wanting to receive their shipment in sustainable packaging.
In this table you can see that most customers expect recyclable packaging. With this in mind, avoid using plastic packaging, and indicate that the packaging used is recyclable.
It’s only the packaging itself that should be recyclable, but also the filling material. This will delight your Swiss customers.
Customers also appreciate an optimal packaging size, which they can reuse immediately if necessary for a return shipment.
Kilos as a weighty criterion
In addition to sustainability, there is another consideration for the right choice of packaging: weight. This is because in Switzerland the customs tariff is calculated on the weight and not on the value of the goods. So with a light packaging you effectively save money.
Here’s a brief summary of the most important points:
- Swiss customers want sustainable packaging.
- Choose a packaging that is worthwhile for you.
Correct and cost-effective customs clearance into Switzerland
Optimal customs clearance saves you and your Swiss customers a lot of time and money. These two factors have a direct impact on the customer experience, which means that your repurchase and referral rates increase.
DAP or DDP?
Which customs clearance solution is right for you is not so difficult to find out. In short, DDP customs clearance enables delivery without cash payment of VAT and/or customs at the door, and the customer experience improves significantly as a result! Read our blog post about DAP and DDP to find out more
Individual or collective customs clearance?
Do you know the difference between individual and collective customs clearance? The difference is the volume structure, the usual daily deliveries and the service processes.
We explain in detail what is relevant for choosing the right customs clearance solution in our blog "The e-commerce customs regulations in Switzerland". Are you also a fashion retailer? Then this blog post is especially interesting for you.
Additional services make customers happy
If customers are to order, you need to have strong customer service and support.
The less trust customers have in an online shop, the more important it is to have accurate information. Compared to domestic e-commerce, customers are somewhat more suspicious of orders from abroad.
You can tackle this problem by providing detailed information about your products: 87% of Swiss consumers state that this is very important to them before they order.
Make sure you tell your Swiss customers that they can order from you easily, with little additional effort or costs compared with local retailers.
Great product pictures are beneficial
Large, good quality product images are also very beneficial, with 74% of Swiss consumers saying that this is important to them.
Newsletter for information and as an advertising channel
Customers primarily use the retailer's website as an information resource. They also appreciate newsletters about new products and promotions. Therefore, with a newsletter you can promote your products and special offers directly to potential Swiss customers.
Product comparisons on your website
Product information should be complete and easily accessible. Remember, customers often compare products on other websites. If your website lacks important information then there is a danger you’ll lose the customer at this point.
Here’s an example:
Word of Mouth (WoM) promotion, i.e. consumers recommending retailers to their friends and family, is traditionally an offline channel.
However, by linking to social media, it can also be opened to the online world. This is important because we know that customers who research online generally also buy online.
Here’s a summary of the most important points to consider:
- Provide sufficient information
- Advertise your customer-friendly logistics solution
- Upload large, good quality product images
- Send email newsletters
- Connect social media
Swiss customers prefer to pay by invoice
A simple payment process is a must for Swiss consumers when shopping online, with few willing to buy from an online store that doesn’t offer their preferred payment method.
With this in mind, it’s important for you as an e-commerce merchant to offer the most popular payment methods. Make sure you display them clearly.
Note the following statistic: 72% of Swiss people said they would have cancelled an order if the desired payment method was not offered.
Swiss people typically prefer to pay by invoice, so you can increase the appeal of your online shop by sending invoices to Swiss customers. Services such as Paidle can offer this.
Good customer service is essential, but it is not always as easy to handle from abroad.
Note that Swiss customers like to use classic communication channels. This includes email, contact forms, telephone calls and your website’s FAQ page.
Social media, online chat services and chatbots are less popular in Switzerland. With 46% of companies relying on social media for customer service, this is an important factor to consider when selling into Switzerland.
Customer service challenges
Of course, customer service first needs personnel who speak the local language. Furthermore, the service must be available during Swiss business hours. But these are only two of the challenges that have to be tackled in customer service …
Certain problems occur exclusively in cross-border e-commerce. Here are the most common ones:
- The customers were not prepared for the fees they had to pay upon receipt of the shipment.
- The shipment got stuck at customs.
Regarding point 1: If you send the shipments on a DAP basis and the customs border is crossed, your customers will have to pay the applicable fees at their front door—otherwise the package will not be handed over to them. Many customers are not really aware of this fact, and they complain afterwards. With good reason.
Your customer service must be prepared for complaints.
However, there is a way around the problem of fees due at the front door, and that is with a DDP solution! The exact difference between DAP and DDP, and how you can increase customer satisfaction and the customer journey, are explained here.
Regarding point 2: If the shipment gets stuck at customs, it is essential that your customer service team is aware of the technical aspects of customs clearance in Switzerland.
Shopping Days in Switzerland
Finally, here is a brief summary of when Swiss people like to shop most:
By promoting your online shop more to Swiss consumers on these days, you can generate more turnover and increase your sales in Switzerland.
Quelle: Y&R Group Switzerland: Futurecom E-Commerce-Studie 2018, E-Commerce Stimmungsbarometer, IPC Country Report Switzerland