How to create an online shop in Switzerland in 9 steps

To create a successful online shop in not a small task. In this article you will get all the necessary information you need to be successful.

Before you start selling products you need a plan with a clear outline that we define all the mandatory steps you need to cover:

  1. Product/Suppliers
  2. Legal
  3. Domain name
  4. Customers
  5. Method of payments
  6. Shipping
  7. Online shop system
  8. Marketing
  9. Optimization

1. Product/Suppliers

First, you need a clear vision of what do you want to sell.

If you already have a company with products to sell, then you can skip the first two steps, because you will extend your brick and mortar to the internet.

Otherwise, you need to find some good product suppliers. Of course you can do that with Google. Just type the name of the product you want to resell and then search the option for distribution on the site of the manufacturer.

Most of the time they will not have the option ready, so you will need to drop them an email and ask them if they want a representative in Switzerland.

Going to the trade shows in nearby countries and find companies that don’t have a representative in Switzerland  is also a quick way how you can find suppliers with good products.

When you have found the suppliers of the products you want to sell you will need a logistical support so that products can safely and legally arrive to you.

For this purpose you can use some of the famous logistic suppliers like DHL, because they can import the product into Switzerland with no hassle for you.

Goal: To have a suppliers for the products you want to sell in your online shop in Switzerland.

 online shop in switzerland

 
Back to the suppliers of the product you want to sell, you need to enter into a representation agreement with them.

First, you will need secure your position so only you can sell their product in Switzerland. If it’s possible getting an exclusive deal for as many years you can get.

The second thing to consider is the legal basis for your online shop. You will need to have some form of company (Einzelfirma oder GmbH) to be able to issue invoices to your customers.

Also, you need to consider two legal documents that you will need to have on your web shop. One is Terms of use and second is Privacy policy. We can help with both of them, but you will need to define some things in terms of use and we will cover that later.

3. Domain name

This is the name that the users will be typing into the Google or into the browser when they will search for products to buy.
  • It’s a good thing that you name your web shop by the brand you will sell. This is a good plan if you sell only products from one brand like HederaVita.ch.

HederaVita.ch
  • If you will sell a lot of different products, but from the same topic, then it’s a good thing that you name your domain by that topic like Mediamarkt.ch.
  • One of the approaches is that you name your site something that has no representation in the real world but will make a brand from that like Oxidian.ch. 
The best thing to do is to go  with the TLD name for Switzerland – .ch . If that’s not available you can change the name you want or choose a different TLD, for example .swiss or .com.  Also with the domain name you need to choose your hosting provider.

Hosting is essentially a computer (server) that is always online and connected to the internet. On that server you will have a part of space where your online shop in Switzerland will reside.
Of course we can take care of everything for you. 

4. Customers

This is a very important step because your customers are the cornerstone of a successful online shop.

You need to think about:
  • who your customers will be,
  • what their preferences are,
  • what online and offline medium do they consume,
  • what kind of message and visuals will resonate with them,
  • which triggers will convince them to buy from you. 
If you have previous experience with the product then you will create the profile for your customers very easily.  If you don’t you will need to research the customers with our old friend Google.

Go to the forums, to the blogs and to the answer sites and find a discussions about the products you want to sell.

There you will find a lot of useful information about your customers. What are:
  • their biggest fears when buying a product,
  • the things that make them not satisfied,
  • the usual questions they have. 
All the information you find you write down and group if possible. You can group by preference, products, gender, age.

Soon you will have several distinct groups of customers that you will address through all the process later in development of the online shop in Switzerland. At the end of this step your goal is to have a clear vision of the future customers groups.

5. Method of payments

Customers today are accustomed to different payments options. 



In Switzerland most popular payment options are:
  • by Invoice
  • by Debit Card
  • by Credit Card
  • by Paypal
  • by Twint
In the previous step we have discussed the importance of customer research. In that step you will also obtain information what payment methods your future customers prefer. So for starters you need to offer that. 

Before you offer methods of payments, first you need to enter into an agreement with the bank and with the payment gateway provider. It’s best that you choose the banks that already have packages for ecommerce because that will save you a lot of hours later.

When you choose the bank, they will guide through the whole process of obtaining the option to process Debit and Credit Cards, and in some cases to be able to process Twint.

Please be aware that a lot of people in Switzerland are using the Post Finance card that is not available options in every payment gateway.

To start a process, you will need to have a company registered and, in some cases ,online shop already up and running, so that the bank can asses that everything is correctly done.

Also, in most of the cases you will need a bank acc. in the bank, which package for ecommerce you will want to choose.


Paying by Invoice

If you choose to enable paying by Invoice, it’s a good thing that you sign a deal with a specialized company that will collect money in your name like for example MF Group.

These companies will check your customer at the checkout phase on your web shop, and if the data from the customer checks out, the customer can go through with the order.




The company will collect the money from customer and you send the companie an invoice every month. Company will pay you no matter what, so they are taking the risk of fraud from you.


PayPal

PayPal is also a great option, but please be aware of the commissions (that are not small) and also that they have right to freeze your account at any time if they choose to do so.

Our recommendation is that you use them, but not as primary provider rather as secondary or even third option on the web shop.

6. Shipping

This is the best part of business when you have a web shop. Having a lot to do with shipping means your web shop is a success! 

Customers in Switzerland expect that they received the products as soon as possible. So it is a good idea that you have an inventory of the products that you will sell.

The second thing is that you have a reliable delivery partner, so that your shipment doesn’t get broken or mishandled in such a way that a product is not of use for customer.

In Switzerland you have a lot of options for shipping partners, and this is something that you need to start negotiate at the beginning of the online shop development. You need to know what are cost associated per package send.

On the online shop side, it’s a good thing that to have  free shipping for customers at certain price. You will need to calculate at a certain price that makes economic sense to you. 

7. Online shop system

These are the systems that you will use to manage your products, customers and orders online. Two of the best online shop systems are
  • WooCommerce (for shops up to 1000 products)
  • or Magento (for bigger shops).
In this step the goal is to setup one of the two mentioned online shop systems on your domain. The Design of your online shop is very important because he can break or make your success. Your design needs to be aligned with your customers expectations.

Magento and Woocommerce

The goal for the design is that your customers go through the order process with as little steps possible. That will result in excellent conversion rates (ratio between visitors and customers). After the setup you are ready to fill a shop with products.

8. Marketing

This is a very big topic that we cover in great detail in other articles such as: 
In this section I will only name a few things you need to consider when you think about marketing for your online shop.

Social proof – is very important because for the visitors of your online shop is a sign that your web shop is legit and that you will deliver on your promises.

Social proof can be a open commentary section on your product page. Rating from Google business or similar service (like tripadvisor).

Verification from one of the companies in Switzerland that are specialized in that. This verification will guarantee that you will deliver your product and that customers have some reasonable time to return products (return policy). This is usually 14 days.

If you follow to all the regulation provided by this companies, you will be eligible to receive their badge, which you can then put on your websites.

 online shop in switzerland

Content 

Content is also a very big part of your marketing efforts, you need to have a Blog with regular post (articles) publishing. The articles needs to be educative about your products or in some other way they need to help your customers.

They also need to be optimized for Google and about that you can read in our Article about Google Optimize.


Transactional emails

This is something that every web shop need to have from the start. These are emails that your customer will receive when they buy something from you, or they open an account on your online shop.

Based on the research of your customer in step 4 you will need to decide what kind of language you will use in your transactional email. Will you use High German or Swiss German, will you refer to your customers with respect or more comfortable etc.


 online shop in switzerland

If your web shop is only in English you don’t have to worry about that since there is no difference in addressing someone with respect or more comfortable. You will always use the pronoun – you.


webshop

Social networks 

It is very hard to tell which social networks will work for your online shop in advance, before knowing what you will sell.Some social networks will work for one kind of business and other will work for another kind of business.

Rule of thumb here is that you also need to see where your customers are based and that you follow them on that social network.

For example, if you have a lot of Russian people that are living in the Switzerland, and you want to target them as your future customers, then it would be a good thing that you have a profile in VKontakte. If you are more in B2B selling, then it makes sense that you have a profile on LinkedIn.

As you can see there are a lot of options and you need to choose carefully because it’s not wise to spend a lot of time and money on social network that will not give you return on that investment (ROI).

9. Optimization

When your online shop goes into production it’s finally time to take a break because you have done all the work and now the money will start pouring in. Right? Wrong!

An online shop is never really finished, you will need to monitor your users and customer constantly and to recognize the patterns in their behavior.

We do this with different tools, one of them is a screen recording your users, and that recordings we later analyze to see what are the pain point in the website.
This is the ongoing process where you test the ideas and see what happens.

For example, what if you add another payment option in the checkout, will your conversion rate go up or down?

Or if you decide that you will rather have videos on the product page and not he images, would that be better for your online shop or not.

This are just few examples what do you need to test on the site, but you also need to test your marketing message, your visuals, and see what will perform the best.



Conclusion

As you can see there is a lot of work to start a successful online shop in Switzerland but with the right partners and Oxidian by your side this is very easy to do. If you have any questions or doubts regarding the start of your online shop, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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