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Swiss - a highly interesting online market

     
1:52 pm on Apr 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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As noted in the Swiss search engines [webmasterworld.com] thread Swiss is a leading country in European internet usage: approximately 50% of the population is online.
Nielesen/netratings found a very high rate of high speed connections. More than 40% of all useres are on ISDN, cable or DSL, resulting in longer sessions with more sites visited and more page views.

I strongly suspect the Swiss are more likely to buy online as most of their neighbors: the general income is high, credit cards are more common than in Germany or France.

While Swiss is a multilingual country, the most used language by far is German with a rough 65%.
Most important search engines to target are Google of course and Bluewin. Bluwin is the dominant portal wit more than 50% reach. Serps are fed by Inktomi.

For quick results on the swiss market there are two ways: Google adwords, and Qualigo.
Google.ch offers a german version, a french, italian and english version, all with appropriate adwords.

Qualigo is a german based PPC engine, which in Germany is of zero importance. On Bluewin however the first three results, "Sponsorlinks" are Qualigo links.

Qualigo PPC listings also appear T-Online Schweiz. While websearch at T-Online.ch is provided by Fast with PPC listings by Overture, top bidders for very generic terms at Qualigo show up on t-online channels as "power links".

2:12 pm on Apr 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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So far, so good (except that the name of the country is "Switzerland", not "Swiss" ;)).

It may be important not to get too enthusiastic about the percentages listed, but to look at the real numbers for a moment. The problem is the small size of the country, with fewer inhabitants than NYC alone. If you want to target german speaking broadband users, then you'll end up with less than a million people, which might be roughly equivalent to the german speaking broadband users in Berlin, Germany.

If you're selling high quality luxury goods, go ahead, optimize for Switzerland. People there are willing to pay reasonable to decent prices for solid quality. If you're selling cheap stuff with mass appeal, don't waste your time, unless your products are very specifically targeted to the local tastes.

2:30 pm on Apr 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Bird, you are right about Swiss and Switzerland - Swiss is just more familiar to the german Schweiz...

Anyhow - targeting Switzerland is of course not restricted to the highspeed connected users. This high percentage just goes to show that Switzerland has a very active online population.
The population IS small, sure. The same is true however for Sweden, Norway and Denmark, which all three definately are interesting online markets. Targeting a small but highly active market can be as rewarding as a potentially large but underdeveloped market.
It should also be remembered that targeting the Swiss market can be done almost as a side effect of targeting Germany, or Italy or France.

3:10 pm on Apr 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Not saying there's no market in Switzerland, there most certainly is. I just wanted to add some scale of reference to the naked percentages.

Unless your business is located in Switzerland to start with, you're much more likely to target the full german speaking area of Europe all in one go. Unfortunately, catering to the less than 5% of this target audience living in Switzerland may cause you more work than you might expect, when compared to shipping to the german speaking countries within the EC.

So what can you do?

  • The easy part is to submit your already optimized german language pages to a few swiss engines and directories.
  • Try to avoid references that are too specific to people living eg. in Germany in your page copy. Swiss folks don't like to be treated as the fifth wheel on the carriage.
  • You might want to offer the possibility to pay in swiss Franks. This doesn't really matter on a technical level (they pay per credit card anyway), but it gives them the feeling that you care about them.
  • You have to state seperate shipping conditions for swiss customers (assuming you're shipping physical goods):

    • Shipping may take longer and be more expensive.
    • Since you're exporting out of the EC, your sale is VAT free (the recipient is supposed to declare local VAT in Switzerland, but that's not your problem).
    • You need to add a commercial invoice to the outside of the package in three copies for customs.
    • If the total price of your shipment is above Euro 800.- (may have changed, used to be DM 1'600.-), you need to add an export declaration on form 0733 ("Einheitspapier"). This form serves both for statistical purposes and as a customs declaration.

  • Anything else?
  • 7:34 pm on Apr 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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    > I strongly suspect the Swiss are more likely to buy online as most of their neighbors

    You are right. If your pages are informative and you have a "contact page" with all details about your company, Swiss people trust in what you adfirm.

    On the opposite site are Japanese!! You need several documented references for Japanes visitors.

     

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