What online retailers need to know when exporting to Switzerland

What online retailers need to know when exporting to Switzerland

Switzerland is a very interesting market for online retailers looking to expand their ecommerce business. It’s an wealthy and online savvy market, while Swiss consumers love to buy from international online stores. But there are many things you should know when you want to export to Switzerland.

For eight years in a row, the World Economic Forum has named Switzerland as the most competitive economy in the world. And the local government and logistics partners are really embracing the ecommerce industry, which means selling into the Swiss ecommerce market has never been easier.  And that’s why Asendia, a joint venture of La Poste and Swiss Post, published a guide to help online retailers with exporting to Switzerland.

Switzerland loves cross-border ecommerce

Buying cross-border is a common thing to do for Swiss consumers, which are doing this more and more every year. Last year, the total value of cross-border purchases was around 1.22 billion euros, an increase of 18 percent compared to the year before.

Aside from that, 75 percent of Swiss use smartphones, while the country is known for its solid infrastructure and high speed internet. Looks like a great market to expand to. But there’s a downside to all of this: Switzerland is also known for its special customs clearance and import tax requirements.

Focus on quality and price

According to Asendia’s guide, there are some things retailers should be aware of when exporting to Switzerland. For example, you should focus on quality and price. In Switzerland, there is already a lot of choice, to foreign online retailers need to cater to the Swiss desire for value-based quality if they want to compete with current players. It’s also important to talk the right language. Swiss consumers speak English, but you should definitely also provide information in German, French and Italian.

Swiss cross-border shoppers are used to paying for delivery costs, commonly between 6 and 8 Swiss francs (€5-7). But more and more, offering free delivery isn’t just limited to domestic purchases. Many distance sellers drop the shipping cost for orders above 100 Swiss francs.

Offer prices with all-in costs

It may not come as a surprise, Swiss consumers like to pay in Swiss francs. But they are used to paying in other currencies too, Asendia explains. What’s more important for them, are hidden costs. They also form the highest barrier to ordering from foreign online retailers. “Therefore any shop should make sure to offer prices and solutions with all-in costs, especially including Swiss taxes and customs clearance.”

Have a local Swiss return address

For ecommerce in Switzerland, returns are also an important topic. In the landlocked country, there is no legal right to return a purchase, but consumers expect to be able to. Online retailers normally allow consumers to return their products within 14 days after purchase. Return rates can be high, but consumers are used to paying for their returns. But as big brands are now offering free return services, Swiss shoppers are getting more used to no or low returns costs, especially when it comes to fashion purchases. Having a local Swiss return address is an absolute must.

No specific regulations for ecommerce companies

What’s also interesting about ecommerce in Switzerland, is the fact there are no specific regulations for companies selling online into Switzerland. And online retailers are subject to the same rules as local offline retailers. Still, ecommerce companies have to know some rules, like, for example, electronics require a Swiss approval mark and a manual in the language of the customer. And restricted goods, such as medicines or wine, can also require some extra regulations.

Weight based duties

Another interesting fact from Asendia’s guide is that Switzerland is the only country in the world besides Australia that levies weight based duties. So for example, sports shoes have a duty rate of 206 Swiss francs per 100 kilogram, while a cotton dress has a duty rate of 171 Swiss francs per 100 kilogram.

If you want more information about ecommerce in Switzerland, please check out the country page we’ve written about Switzerland.


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