What customers and retailers want

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Studies What customers and retailers want

Published on 22.10.2019 by Stephan Lamprecht, journalist

The “E-commerce trend indicator” and the “Swiss online retailer survey” are this year once again providing a 360-degree view of Switzerland’s e-commerce landscape. The direct comparison reveals differences between customers’ demands and what retailers are offering.

Nearly 280 online retailers in Switzerland participated in this year’s survey, which was conducted as part of a partnership between the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) and Swiss Post.

From the customer side, more than 14,000 participants submitted their opinions online for the trend indicator. The survey was conducted in partnership with the Institute for Digital Business at the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich (HWZ).

Marketplaces have gained acceptance

Both surveys clearly show that the marketplace concept has gained acceptance among both retailers and customers. 35 percent of Swiss retailers are already selling on virtual marketplaces or platforms in order to generate additional revenue. Customers also like shopping on these marketplaces. For them, Ricardo, Amazon and Digitec/Galaxus are the clear frontrunners. But the Wish platform and Asian marketplaces are also increasing in significance for consumers. Following the adage that retailers need to be where their customers are, there is still room for improvement on the part of retailers. Although 76 percent of customers shop on Amazon, only 20 percent of retailers use this marketplace. The Wish marketplace proved to be very popular with customers, making up 40 percent of responses, but none of the retailers surveyed uses this marketplace to sell.

Agreement on payments

Retailers know how customers like to pay when using online shops and provide the payment methods their customers require. At 76 and 75 percent respectively, credit cards and payment by invoice are by far the most popular methods with customers. Both methods are normally offered by retailers. PayPal, the PostFinance debit card and mobile payments are also popular with customers. And the retail sector is on board with these methods, too. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are covered heavily in the media, but their significance is negligible for both retailers and customers.

Room for improvement in fulfilment

The picture is not so rosy when it comes to services and delivery. Free returns are important to 73 percent of customers when choosing an online shop. But only 28 percent of retailers offer this. Doing so would open up opportunities for customer acquisition.

Customers would also like to see free shipping (78 percent), but only 54 percent of retailers are responding to this demand. Overall, retailers have upped their game when it comes to fulfilment and delivery and offer a number of value-added services related to shipping. For example, customers can track their consignments online when shopping at around half of retailers. But it’s clear that consumers would also like to have more flexibility. In particular, more than half of customers would like to choose the day when their delivery will arrive, a service that fewer than one in four retailers offer. 74 percent of customers would also like to receive advance notice of deliveries, but only 34 percent of retailers have implemented such a service. By contrast, same-day delivery is less important to customers (14 percent). But retailers could benefit by offering morning and evening deliveries. Although customers enjoy shopping online, they would like receiving goods to have as small an impact on their daily routines as possible.

More numbers and fascinating insights from the studies will be published in time for Connecta Berne 2019.

Stephan Lamprecht, journalist

Stephan Lamprecht has been following e-commerce developments in Germany, Austria and Switzerland for two decades as a journalist and consultant.

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