A man with a tablet shopping online
Marketplaces The growing importance of digital marketplaces
Switzerland has a flourishing e-commerce market that is increasingly being shaped by marketplaces. Currently, the marketplace landscape in Switzerland is dominated by local names, such as Ricardo, Manor and Digitec Galaxus, as well as international giants like Zalando, Amazon, AliExpress and eBay. Six of the online shops in Switzerland with the highest revenue operate either wholly or partially as a marketplace. They offer a broad range of products, from fashion to electronics, all the way to household items.
Marketplaces in Switzerland have come a long way since their beginnings in the early 2000s. Ricardo.ch, the first online marketplace in the country, started out as an auction site for used goods, and quickly gained in popularity.
The rise in e-commerce and the increasing popularity of marketplaces resulted in the emergence of new names, including Galaxus and Digitec. Galaxus was founded in 2012, and is one of the largest online retailers in Switzerland today, offering a wide range of products across different categories. The platform Digitec primarily specializes in electronics and IT products. Since 2016, external retailers have been able to list their products on both platforms, and in 2019, the fashion giant Zalando launched “Zalando Connected Retail” alongside their partner programme. The idea behind this additional entry point is to allow high-street retailers in the fashion sector to bridge the gap between offline and online retail. Following the example of other successful e-commerce marketplaces, the department store Manor opened its online platform for curated partners in 2021 to offer its customers a wider range, and to catch up with other, bigger shops in Switzerland.
Amazon and eBay likewise entered the Swiss market in 1998 and 1999 respectively, and have since become big names in the local e-commerce ecosystem. Even though Amazon doesn’t use a .ch domain name, 20 percent of Swiss customers still shop there.
Today, the marketplace landscape in Switzerland is becoming ever-more diverse. In recent years, more and more niche marketplaces have started emerging that offer specific product categories, such as luxury goods (e.g. Globus), food and drink (e.g. Farmy) and health and well-being products (e.g. Zur Rose).
The importance of marketplaces in online retail
Marketplaces are becoming a core component of the e-commerce landscape, both in Switzerland and around the world. According to the Future of Marketplaces Report by Edge by Ascential, marketplace sales will be the biggest and fastest-growing retail channel by 2027. Last year, third-party suppliers generated 56% of global e-commerce revenue through marketplaces, and this figure is expected to increase to 59% by 2027.
According to a report by GfK and HANDELSVERBAND.swiss (in German), the Swiss e-commerce market has grown by 44% since 2019, and posted turnover of CHF 14 billion last year. Of that figure, CHF 2 billion came from international sales (i.e. not through ch. domains).
Benefits of a marketplace presence
One of the main advantages of a marketplace presence for retailers is the opportunity to tap into an existing customer base. There are millions of active users in marketplaces who are already looking for products, and they’re more likely to make a purchase than someone who’s just browsing. By adopting this approach, online retailers can reach a wider audience and generate more revenue, and this is especially true when marketplaces are internationally active. In doing so, online retailers can sell their products internationally and tap into new markets without requiring a physical presence on the target market.
Marketplaces also offer online retailers an affordable way to market their products. By listing products on a marketplace, they benefit from the platform’s own marketing measures, which include search engine optimization, paid advertising and e-mail marketing. These services can reduce the marketing costs for retailers and raise their profile.
In summary, we can say that marketplaces are a core component of the e-commerce landscape in Switzerland and worldwide (in German). The growth of marketplaces is expected to continue, driven by factors such as the increasing popularity of online shopping, the rise of mobile retail and the growing importance of the customer experience. Marketplaces offer retailers an affordable way to reach a wider audience, reduce marketing costs and raise their profile. With marketplaces becoming increasingly popular, retailers who aren’t already selling on these platforms risk lagging behind their competitors.
Swiss Post’s marketplace enabling service
What is your strategy for marketplaces? Get in touch with our marketplace experts in the Digital Commerce team and benefit from free, impartial and holistic marketplace advice in all business, technical and logistics matters. Here at Swiss Post, we will be happy to help you with the onboarding process to get onto digital marketplaces with our marketplace enabling service.
- Online Retailer Study 2022
- Swiss Post marketplace enabling
- The marketplace guide for beginners (in German)
- A plan for starting out on marketplaces (in German)
- Online marketplaces in Switzerland: marketplace study in collaboration with the University of Fribourg (in German)
- Future Marketplace Report Summary by Internetretailing.net
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