E-commerce in Switzerland: A market with great potential 

E-commerce in Switzerland:

Table of Contents

Today, everything is accessible on the Internet: buying tickets for a show, shopping online, booking a trip, looking for a job, etc. E-commerce is a sector that continues to develop in Switzerland, opening up new possibilities and opportunities for companies. Indeed, with the democratization of the Internet, brands are extending their activity on the web to meet the growing expectations and demands of their consumers.  

For your business to succeed in online commerce, you need to establish a clear and efficient digital strategy.  It is important to have an understanding of both e-commerce and your sector, in addition to possessing the technical skills necessary to develop an online shop. 

What is Ecommerce? 

Electronic commerce, more frequently known as e-commerce, refers to any commercial activity developed or operated on the web. It has become an essential element that contributes to the success of many businesses. This is because it effectively simplifies the relations and interactions with your customers and digital partners. It also enables a fluid and rapid circulation of information between all parties.  

With the global pandemic, the safest solution for many businesses was to replace their physical activities with online alternatives. In the retail sector, this was especially true. Since the start of the health crisis, there has been a significant increase in the number of consumers making purchases online that they would usually have made in stores. As a result, e-commerce has enabled retailers to meet their customers’ demands in the most efficient, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective way possible.  

E-commerce requires several experts in IT, graphic design, communications, and marketing to be successfully executed. Furthermore, since the onset of the pandemic, e-commerce is booming and developing in all sorts of sectors from fashion to banking, insurance to mass distribution, etc.

E-commerce in Switzerland 

Before the global pandemic, Switzerland was second only to the Netherlands as the leading e-commerce country. Today, Switzerland now it is the leader. According to a study made in 2020 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, there are four reasons for this success: 

  • The Internet connection rate is particularly high in Switzerland, with 97% of Swiss people using it regularly.  
  • 98% of the Swiss are clients of a bank, which is a prerequisite for conducting an online purchase.  
  • The number of online merchants is notably high for such a small country. 
  • Finally, the quality of delivery is close to perfection.  

According to the market research institute GFK and the Swiss Distance Selling Association, online sales reached 10.3 billion francs in 2019, which made up 9% of retail sales in Switzerland, of which 8.3 billion were made by Swiss e-boutiques and 2 billion by foreign e-commerce websites.  

Before the health crisis, e-commerce was particularly developed in the sectors of technology, furniture, toys, shoes, etc. The health crisis greatly accelerated the development and Swiss e-commerce trend, forcing the Swiss to make online purchases in other sectors usually done in stores including food and cosmetics.  

According to a study by the ZHAW, the Zurich School of Management and Law, online sales have increased by 20% for one out of two e-commerce brands since the beginning of the health crisis

E-commerce trends in 2021 

Direct sales

Direct selling also called D-to-C (Direct-to-Consumer) is an online sales strategy to sell goods directly to the consumer, without going through an intermediary. This strategy is not recent, but it is becoming more and more important today. This approach is based on a short sales channel that allows brands to offer their products or services directly to the customer through their online stores, without going through a reseller, distributor, or marketplace. Its advantages: saving time and money, and reducing the customer journey.  

 Sales via chatbot

Chatbots are becoming increasingly popular on websites, especially as they allow brands to answer customers’ questions instantly. They act as customer service representatives on the website. Today, chatbots have also become sales advisors in e-commerce as they can assist and advise your customers throughout the buying process. This is called conversational commerce.  

Virtual commerce

Virtual commerce has amplified its presence, especially during the lockdown. Brands with physical stores that could no longer accommodate their customers in-store, turned to virtual and augmented reality solutions to recreate the in-store experience: a 3D representation of the store where users could virtually walk around, click on products for information and make their purchases online. Brands that implemented it during lockdown included Dior and Ikea, but also Burberry who recreated its products in 3D in Google Images.  

The re-commerce

Re-commerce, or reverse commerce, is another e-commerce trend that is currently booming. This approach consists of marketing second-hand products for sale or rent. Re-commerce solutions have become especially popular for used smartphones, but also for retail such as Patagonia, which specializes in outdoor clothing, and Asos the UK-based e-commerce platform for clothing.

The m-commerce

M-commerce or mobile commerce is a crucial part of e-commerce as it is the sale of products and services via mobile. Since lockdown, mobile commerce has become increasingly used and appreciated by customers who make their purchases using their smartphones and tablets. Today’s online stores understand the importance of mobile commerce and are increasingly developing websites and applications that are quick and easy for mobile users to navigate.  

Voice commerce

Voice commerce consists of placing an online order with your voice by using Google’s voice search or a voice assistant such as Siri, Alexa, or Cortana. With the rise in popularity of smart TVs, more and more brands are working on the voice SEO of their online stores. In fact, according to the Narvar Consumer report, voice search will account for half of all SEO queries in 2020. According to a ComScore study, by 2022, the number of purchases made via voice search is expected to reach nearly 35 billion euros. 

Social Commerce

Social commerce means selling products and services via social media. It includes techniques such as Shopstreaming, which consists of selling by streaming live for example. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram now offer a shop function that allows you to buy directly via the applications.  


The principle is simple: it allows an e-commerce store to present products that will then be sent directly to the customer by the supplier. In terms of e-commerce, the website serves as a window and intermediary between the supplier and the customer, rather than a real store.  


Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, are increasingly being made available as a payment method for e-commerce websites. Cryptocurrency underlines an exciting prospect for e-commerce websites that accept this payment method. It allows them to reach a wider target audience. Furthermore, thanks to virtual currencies, e-commerce will be able to guarantee greater security in online transactions, a point that still hinders many consumers from making a purchase online as they are concerned about the confidentiality of their banking data. As a result, transactions with cryptocurrencies will be more reliable and faster, which are key factors that will help convince people who are still reluctant to make online purchases.

How to develop e-commerce in the Swiss market? 

To target the Swiss market with your e-commerce website and make your online sales take off, you must take into account 4 essential elements: 

Content marketing 

Content marketing is the ideal strategy if you want to increase your conversion rate. By creating blog posts, videos, infographics, online guides for your products, etc., you share relevant and value-added information with your customers. This type of content is effective in convincing your prospects to visit your e-commerce site and make a purchase.  

Let’s take the example of an e-commerce site that has just added a new pair of sneakers to its collection. The content of your blog post must answer questions that potential buyers would have and also convince users to purchase the new sneakers, thanks to a relevant and engaging presentation of the item in question that focuses on its features and benefits. 

Email marketing automation 

E-mailing campaigns are essential for your e-commerce website. It is one of the best techniques to influence your customers and make them buy more.  

With a good segmentation of your contacts and the implementation of automated emails, you will be able to send relevant and timely messages to your relevant audiences.  

You can integrate the following types of emails into your marketing strategy: 

  • Welcome e-mail: This is automatically sent when a visitor registers on your website.  
  • E-mail in case of shopping cart abandonment: This reminds the user that they did not confirm their order. It is also an opportunity to offer them a discount coupon or an interesting offer that will help them to take action. 
  • Purchase confirmation e-mail: Every customer who finalizes a purchase receives an e-mail confirming the items ordered and the amount spent.  
  • Feedback e-mail: When a customer’s order has been delivered, it is possible to ask for their opinion on the products received and their degree of satisfaction. 

Email marketing can be used for many purposes: to build customer loyalty, to inform them of new products, to offer them promotions, to accompany them in their purchasing process, etc.

Retargeting Ads 

The objective of the retargeting strategy is to make Internet users come back to your e-commerce website with the help of targeted communication and timely advertising.  

Communication via social media 

Social media platforms are the most cost-effective and efficient channels to use when promoting e-commerce products. We recommend that you create digital campaigns on social media to inform, engage and encourage your target audiences to take action. To make people want to buy your products, it is important to use high-quality photos and content.  

For example, with Instagram and Facebook, you can reach your audience with carousels, product catalogs, stories, filters, and their in-platform shops. These are all features that allow you to highlight your products creatively. 

Disruptive brands that are shaking up the codes of e-commerce

Zalando: Moving to a platform model 

Zalando, Europe’s leading online fashion retailer, has moved from an online store to a complete platform, to offer its suppliers new services including warehouse stock space, distribution, and marketing. As a result, the company has increased by 30% both its turnover and the volume of its productsMore and more companies have understood the importance of being present on this established e-commerce platform which has millions of customers and now sells via Zalando’s platform. 

Luxury brands venture onto YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch 

Social media platforms are increasingly being used to influence consumers in e-commerce. European luxury brands, which typically have an in-store retail presence to provide their customers with a high-end shopping experience, have also had to adapt to the digital ageThe French luxury company Kering, for examplewhich owns Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta among its brands, has successfully leveraged not only its brand’s websites but also its brand’s social media presence via YouTube, Instagram, and Twitch, to retain existing customers and attract new leads. Burberry has also opted for a fashion show on Twitch, a streaming platform for video game playersencouraging luxury brands to experiment and innovate in their ways of challenging traditional ways of dropping new collections via digital platforms.   

Evian: online orders and personalization of your bottle

As for the Evian brand, it has launched its e-commerce site offering home delivery with the possibility of customizing its bottles. Evian is setting up a premium offer with promotions for those who choose to order onlineEvian is owned by Danone, a French multinational corporation, and this choice to opt for e-commerce is reducing the logistical costs.

Unlock exclusives! Subscribe to the newsletter