Switzerland - Country Commercial Guide
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Assessment of Current Buyer Behavior in Market

Switzerland is one of the top five European countries in the proportion of online purchases. In 2020, the online share of retail sales in Switzerland was 13% before falling slightly to 11.8% in 2021.  In the areas of media, home electronics, and fashion, the share of sales generated on the internet is significantly above this average, whereas home, do-it yourself, and sports are the fastest growing areas.  In 2021, sales in Switzerland of Swiss online retailers continued to grow faster than those of their foreign counterparts.  In total, Swiss residents spent CHF 13 billion ($13.35 billion) in local online shops in 2021, and around CHF 2.1 billion ($2.16 billion) in foreign online shops.

E-commerce sales are expected to grow further in 2022, according to industry observers.  To boost sales and improve the customer experience, manufacturers and brands invest substantially in their own online formats, according to the Swiss Mail Order Association, which unites over 330 online retailers that generate about 50% of Swiss B2C online sales.

The Association’s website provides information and statistics on the Swiss retail market. The Swiss government’s SME Portal includes a section dedicated to eCommerce resources.

Local eCommerce Sales Rules & Regulations

An eCommerce site must provide certain information to internet users so that it is legally secure, including information about the operator and specific product information. The ordering process must be optimized and clear, and the order confirmation must include specific information. Details of these requirements can be found on the Swiss SME portal here. The Federal Tax Administration has a summary of relevant issues for mail-order trade here.

Swiss legislation does not guarantee customers the right to change their mind and return a product after an online purchase; the right of withdrawal only exists if sellers grant it on their own initiative. In this case, the webshop must explicitly state its conditions.

The Swiss Parliament adopted the revision of the Swiss Data Protection Act (DPA) in September 2020. The revised DPA includes numerous alignments with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The territorial scope of the new DPA includes companies based abroad if they process personal data that has an impact in Switzerland. In addition, companies without a registered office in Switzerland may be required to designate a representative in Switzerland if they process the personal data of individuals in Switzerland. This obligation is triggered if the data processing is related to the offering of goods or services (so-called targeting) or the behavioral monitoring of these persons, if the processing is extensive, regular and involves a high risk to the individual data subjects. It is not yet known when the new data protection law will come into force.

Local eCommerce Business Service Provider Ecosystem

The Swiss Commerce Association offers information on the Swiss online business ecosystem, and members can utilize framework contracts with association conditions for package delivery, card payments, credit checks, debt collection and other services. They also have a calendar of upcoming events in Switzerland related to eCommerce at their website.