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 E–commerce?
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. It is a crucial element that is enabling businesses to connect with their consumers despite the constraints that Covid-19 has created.
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 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 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.
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.