The business sector in Switzerland is one of the most stable and profitable not only in Europe but also in the world. Local and foreign investors can benefit from several opportunities for setting up various business ventures. One of these opportunities is opening an e-commerce company, because it provides access to a substantial consumer market and high opportunities regarding return of investment.
Switzerland is not a part of the European Union, but it has similar business structures, business requirements and regulations, which make it perfect as a business location for companies that, intend to provide goods and services on the Swiss and European market. This option is possible due to the fact that Switzerland has signed agreements with EU member states and it provides a favorable business environment through tax deductions, tax exemptions and other important tax advantages.
Registering an e-commerce company in Switzerland
Entrepreneurs interested in company formation in Switzerland should be aware about the incorporation requirements, taxation and company registration procedures. The reason why these regulations are important is that even though the company operates online, at least from the standpoint of the customer, an e-commerce company has almost the same status as a regular company. The only important difference is that the e-commerce company operates digitally, but otherwise, the incorporation and registration requirements are the same.
Among these requirements is the one in relation with the business owner or prospective owner must be a Swiss resident, in other words that the respective person hold a Swiss residence permit. This requirement is especially important if the company’s registers name is the same as the name of the business owner.
Swiss e-commerce companies must have one of the business structures used in Switzerland, the most common ones being an AG (a Swiss Corporation) or a GmbH (a private limited liability company).
Foreign entrepreneurs, investors and stakeholders involved can incorporate in Switzerland, under the provision that at least one of the company’s directors on the company board is a Swiss resident.
Registering a website in Switzerland
An e-commerce company needs to register and create a website, in order to conduct its business operations online. There are no limitations regarding the type of platform used to provide a reliable online structure and to set up an online shop.
The first steps are to acquire a domain name and to create a website. Company owners may acquire the services of local specialists or to outsource this process to specialists from anywhere in the world. The only requirements are to comply in terms of guarantees, return policies and payment methods established by the regulations in order and to maintain the safety of the website’s users in terms of personal data protection.
The national domain extension used in Switzerland is .ch, which was established in 1987. It is not required to use a .ch domain extension for a Swiss e-commerce company, but it is advisable to do so in order to ensure trustworthiness and to provide the company’s location even from the first interaction that the users have with the website.
The Swiss e-commerce market
Switzerland has one of the highest internet penetration rates, with 95% of the population between 16 and 65 using the internet on regular basis and 90% of them having shopped online at least once. The average Swiss consumer spends more than 2,500 CHF annually on goods purchased online. The most popular goods purchased online by Swiss consumers are clothes, transport services, books and vacations.
In total, the Swiss spent 9.1 billion CHF on products and services purchased online in 2015, according to the Swiss E-Commerce Consumer Behavior Report. Approximately 40% of the online purchases are for goods while the rest are for services.
Switzerland is also one of the top three markets in Europe regarding online cross-border purchases. Approximately one in three Swiss online consumers prefers to buy cross-border goods, but at the same time, the number of foreign customers who are buying Swiss goods and services is also increasing, du the country’s reputation regarding high quality products and secure and reliable payments.
More recent figures show that in 2017, the Swiss e-commerce turnover grow by 10% with 4.7 million online shoppers.
There is no doubt that Switzerland provide a very attractive market for e-commerce companies, both because of the high incomes of the domestic market as well as for the opportunities that it provides for businesses who wish to conduct cross-border online commerce.
To open an e-commerce company in Switzerland, it is recommended to acquire the services of Swiss company formation specialists that can guide throughout the entire process and provide the necessary support.