Three tips for establishing a presence in Switzerland

Author: Samantha Alexandre

When entering a new market, there are many details to consider. The key is to find the right balance between core processes that can stay the same across regions – then adjust specific rules to accommodate local needs. Fluent Commerce and Emakina in Switzerland have partnered to create a Global Retail Guide for retailers and brands looking to establish themselves in Switzerland. Here are their three main tips.

Start with a bit of research

First, beware of restrictions! In Switzerland, certain goods and products are prohibited or restricted. You can review the complete list of bans and restrictions here.

Secondly, go where consumers are looking. Swiss consumers prefer to purchase directly on the brand or retailer’s website. They expect to access it in their local language: make sure it is available in German, French, Italian, and English.

When it comes to marketplaces, popular ones include:

  • Digitec (electronic appliances);
  • Galaxus;
  • Brack;
  • Microspot;
  • Zur Rose (health and cosmetics);
  • Dein Deal.
Beware of restrictions when shipping to Switzerland.

Predict right on the money

Consider the way Swiss usually pay and adapt your processes. Bank transfers remain a prevalent method of payment, with 56% of all e-commerce payments. Then, they typically pay from credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, and AMEX), PayPal, Apple Wallet, and Klarna. Other popular payment methods also include Sofort, RatePay, Twint and Google Pay.

About local tax rates, the standard tax rate in Switzerland is 7.7%. There is a reduced rate of 2.5% for certain goods, including food, books, newspapers, medicines, and other consumer goods. However, services in the education, culture, and healthcare industries are exempt from the local sales tax.

Adapt to the Swiss delivery way

Locally, the two preferred carriers are Swiss Post and DHL. Goods can be delivered via home delivery, click and collect, lockers (My Post 24) or third-party pickup locations (Pick-Post). Be mindful that Swiss consumers expect quick delivery times.

It’s important to know that Swiss customs calculate duties by weight and not the product’s value, which means that sellers should consider light-weight packaging.

And like many around the globe, Swiss consumers expect an easy return process. That’s why you should consider:

  • including a return shipping label in the package;
  • that consumers expect to generate and print a return shipping label online;
  • that consumers expect to return their online orders in-store.
Emakina offices in Lausanne

We leave you with the best advice of Thierry Willer, Emakina.CH’s Managing Director:

“Switzerland is unique in that it is an island in the middle of Europe. If a seller can nimbly wade their way through Switzerland’s complex rules and regulations surrounding customs, the reward will be an attractive market of consumers looking to buy from international companies.”

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