E-commerce just keeps growing – not only in Germany: even in our neighbouring countries, the shopping mania via desktop and smartphones only knows one direction – upwards.
A good reason to take a closer look at a neighbour who is particularly interesting for German retailers.
Online Shopping in the Alpine Republic: Who are the Big Players?
E-commerce is booming in Switzerland. In 2018, the Swiss spent a total of 7.7 billion Swiss francs (about 7.1 billion euros) in the 250 biggest online shops. A plus of more than ten per cent compared to the previous year!
It is exciting to see who generates the highest turnover here. In Germany, Amazon topped the list of shops with the highest turnover in 2018 with about 9.2 billion euros, followed by Otto.de (3.2 billion euros) and Zalando.de (1.4 billion euros). The ranking was surprisingly different in our neighbouring country.
With a turnover of 720 million euros, the Swiss subsidiary of the biggest German fashion online shop came in first place: Zalando.ch. It was closely followed by the electronics retailer digitec.ch with a turnover of 706 million euros. The e-commerce giant Amazon.de (turnover of 425 million euros) only came in third place in this ranking – followed by a store that certainly no one in Germany has on his radar: Nespresso!
Online Shopping in the Alpine Republic: The Trends
In order to illustrate the trends in Swiss e-commerce, the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich publishes the »e-commerce trend indicator« together with the Swiss Post every year. In this publication, customers and retailers are surveyed about e-commerce topics.
The most important trend on the buyer side is shopping abroad. A particularly popular exporting country is Germany. In 2018, about 70 per cent of all online shoppers bought goods from German online shops – even ahead of China (41 per cent) and the USA (26 per cent).
When asked about the reasons for cancelling an order process, the majority of respondents answered that the desired product could not be delivered to Switzerland. This means that there is huge potential for more sales, in particular for German retailers. Further reasons were hidden costs and the lack of desired payment options.
In terms of product packaging, sustainability is particularly important for the Swiss. The ideal packaging should be based on the goods’ size, be reusable and consist of environmentally friendly material.
For retailers from the Alpine Republic, market entry abroad is currently the number one topic. 20 per cent already sell their products via Amazon. Even more sell them via digitec (37 per cent) and Ricardo (25 per cent). The reason for this is more turnover and reach because of the popularity of the digital generalists. However, the majority of retailers are not sure whether marketplaces really facilitate international market entry. There are lots of problems with exporting: Delays and fees due to customs and high shipping costs lead this ranking of negative aspects.
In terms of offers, the Swiss e-commerce market is oriented towards the American shopping mania days. 42 per cent of the merchants surveyed stated that they take part in Black Friday. 22 per cent said that they take part in Cyber Monday. However, only about ten per cent of the shops take part in the world’s biggest shopping event, the Singles’ Day on the 11th of November.
If you ask retailers about their software, no trend becomes apparent. Approximately one fifth of shops are operating their own software. With twelve and eleven per cent respectively, Magento and Shopware have more or less the same share. All other systems make up between nine and three per cent of store back-ends.
Having a look at our neighbouring countries is exciting and shows German retailers and investors that the Swiss market still gets little attention but offers all the more potential.