Online retail trends
and a critical look at sustainability

The growing popularity of online retail has led to a greater emphasis on sustainability. Sustainability is also becoming more important for consumers. How are Swiss online retailers responding to this development? Our latest studies on Swiss online retail provide answers.

Highlights

Sustainability in Swiss e-commerce

Online Retailer Survey 2021

How sustainable is Swiss online retail from a retailer's point of view? A B2B study by Swiss Post and the Institute of Communication and Marketing IKM at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.

In relation to sustainability, environmental and social aspects at various phases along the online shop value chain were examined (e.g. selecting product ranges, during shipping or when collaborating with partners).

PDF Download (487 kB)

Product range

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 3

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

As an estimate, how high is the percentage of products included in your range that are manufactured in an eco-friendly manner or under fair working conditions?

55%

Ecological aspect: Products manufactured in an eco-friendly way (55%)

79%

Social aspect: Products manufactured under fair working conditions (79%)

The social aspect is being taken into consideration more strongly than the ecological aspect.


Operation of the online shop

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 1

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

Which of the following statements applies to the operation of your online shop?

72% We conduct our business in a way that generates as few carbon emissions as possible (e.g. video conferences instead of travelling or appropriate transport choices for business trips).

45% We use IT solutions that have minimal power requirements (incl. power for cooling).

43% We use IT solutions that leave the smallest possible carbon footprint (manufacture, operations, disposal).

33% We offset unavoidable carbon emissions (e.g. generated on business trips) in order to be as carbon-neutral as possible.

25% Our online shop is fully powered by renewable energy resources.

When choosing IT solutions, greater emphasis is placed on sustainability than operation of the shop.


Intralogistics and storage

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 1

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

Which statements apply to intralogistics and warehousing in your company?

78% We ensure transportation is as environmentally friendly as possible (e.g. by avoiding empty journeys through improved route planning).

58% Our warehouse is operated in a resource-friendly manner (e.g. low energy consumption thanks to the sustainable design of the building).

35% Our warehouse is fully powered by renewable energy resources.

Eco-friendly logistics and storage solutions that conserve resources tend to lower costs and thus lead to wider distribution.


Shipping and packaging

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 6

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

Which of the following environmental shipping options do you offer your customers?

45% Collection from your own branch (Click & Collect)

37% Consolidated shipping for end customers (bundling of partial deliveries) for more sustainable delivery

26% Carbon-neutral shipping (through carbon offsetting) without any extra charge for the end customer

21% Link for managing the delivery (e.g. time, location) in order to guarantee successful delivery on the first attempt

18% Slower delivery of consignments to end customers to ensure more sustainable delivery

16% Delivery to third-party collection points (e.g. parcel terminals, Swiss Post branches)

13% Use of locally adapted logistics solutions for more sustainable shipping (e.g. bicycle delivery services in combination with trains, eCargo bikes)

4% Carbon-neutral shipping (through carbon offsetting) with an extra charge for the end customer

Click & Collect and bundled deliveries are the options most frequently available. Nearly every fourth online shop offers carbon neutral shipping at no surcharge.


Returns

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 3

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

Do you offer a free returns service?

30%70%

No (70%)

Yes (30%)

Three out of ten Swiss online shops surveyed offer free returns.


Cooperation with partners

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 2

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

To what extent do sustainability aspects determine collaboration with partners (e.g. suppliers or shipping service providers) in your company?

72% When choosing possible partners, we consider social aspects (e.g. fair working conditions).

62% When deciding on whether or not to work with a partner, social aspects (e.g. fair working conditions) are given just as much weight as economic criteria (e.g. costs).

60% When choosing possible partners, we consider certification of compliance with environmental or social standards.

57% When choosing possible partners, we consider environmental aspects (e.g. resource conservation, avoidance of carbon emissions).

49% When deciding on whether or not to work with a partner, environmental aspects (e.g. resource conservation, avoidance of carbon emissions) are given just as much weight as economic criteria (e.g. costs).

37% We verify our partners’ compliance with environmental and social standards.

20% We actively provide our partners with suggestions as to how they can operate with greater environmental and social awareness.

When it comes to choosing partners, social aspects are more important than environmental ones. Suggestions for a more sustainable retail approach are rarely made.


Consumer requirements

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 1

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

How important do you think your customers consider the following sustainability aspects to be?

75% Information on product origin

69% Sustainability of the products

67% Sustainable packaging

63% Information on manufacturing conditions of products

43% Sustainable delivery options

37% Sustainable approach to returns

29% Information on transport

24% Sustainable operation of the online shop

Online retailers assume that products and packaging are what matter the most to customers when it comes to sustainability.


Current important issues

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 3

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

Which of the following sustainability issues will be most important to your company over the next 12 months?

43% Keeping customers better informed of sustainability aspects

40% Offering customers more sustainable packaging

34% Increasing the share of sustainable products in your range

29% Taking a more sustainable approach to transport and logistics (e.g. through the reduction/prevention of carbon emissions or better use of existing transport capacities)

27% Collaboration with sustainable partners/service providers

27% Offering customers more sustainable shipping options

6% Taking a more sustainable approach to returns

5% Taking a more sustainable approach to the running of your online shop (e.g. by reducing power consumption in-house or for hosting)

8% None of the above

Providing better information to customers about sustainability aspects and more sustainable packaging will be the most important topics over the course of the next year.


Communication and marketing

Online Retailer Survey 2021

Question 1 / 1

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

We communicate our sustainability activities…

69% … on our company website.

59% … in our newsletter.

58% … on our social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn).

57% … in our online shop.

40% … in our blog.

26% … in printed media (e.g. newspapers or the customer magazine).

20% … in digital ads (e.g. search engine/banner/social/video ads).

13% … through sponsorship.

5% … in outdoor advertising (e.g. posters).

4% … on TV.

4% … on the radio.

Sustainability aspects are primarily communicated through the company’s own website, social media and online shop.

E-commerce trend indicator

Customer survey 2021

What are the trends and habits in Swiss online retail? A B2C study by Swiss Post and the University of Applied Sciences in Business Administration Zurich (HWZ).

PDF Download (510 kB)

Marketing

Customer survey 2021

Question 1 / 4

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

How often do you shop online?

3% Daily

23% Weekly

52% Monthly

16% Every six months

3% Annually

3% Never

78% shop monthly or more frequently online.


Orders

Customer survey 2021

Question 1 / 7

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

What products do you buy most often online?

60% Travel

59% Books, music, films

58% Event tickets

51% Clothing

47% Computers, electronic devices

27% Sporting goods

24% Toys

23% Cosmetics

14% Food

13% Furniture

Trips and entertainment are predominantly purchased online.


Virtual marketplaces

Customer survey 2021

Question 1 / 2

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

On which of the following virtual marketplaces do you shop?

82% Digitec Galaxus

78% ricardo.ch

72% Amazon

72% Microspot

62% Zalando

51% tutti.ch

45% eBay

40% Wish

36% anibis.ch

33% AliExpress

13% Pinterest

6% Rakuten

Digitec Galaxus, Ricardo, Amazon and Microspot are amongst the most popular online marketplaces for Swiss shoppers.


Payment

Customer survey 2021

Question 1 / 1

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

Which payment options do you prefer?

75% Credit card

74% Invoice

51% Mobile payments

30% PostFinance debit card

30% PayPal

24% Option to pay when collecting from store/pickup center

20% Advance payment

19% Online shop payment and in-store collection

1% Bitcoins

The majority prefer to pay by credit card or by invoice.


Logistics and sustainability

Customer survey 2021

Question 1 / 4

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

How important are the following delivery options to you?

Online consignment tracking

86%

80%

76%

74%

Advance notice of consignment receipt

76%

76%

77%

81%

Managing receipt of goods online

68%

63%

57%

50%

Delivery on a preferred date

57%

49%

46%

43%

Evening delivery

22%

19%

16%

7%

Same-day delivery

20%

15%

10%

8%

Morning delivery

17%

18%

18%

22%

Delivery within two hours

11%

9%

6%

5%

up to 34 years

from 35 to 54 years of age

from 55 to 64 years of age

65 years and older

The most important delivery options to all age groups are tracking the delivery online and advance notice of receipt.


Customer care

Customer survey 2021

Question 1 / 1

Alle Fragen zu diesem Thema

What types of customer service are important to you?

90% E-mail

70% Contact form

66% Telephone

54% Personal advice

44% FAQ

29% Chat

15% Messenger

12% Social Media

9% Chatbot

In terms of customer service, respondents rate e-mails (90%) as important. Compared with the previous year, this figure has risen by 19%.

Supply and demand in online shopping with a focus on sustainability

Sustainability

What are Swiss consumers looking for when it comes to sustainability in e-commerce and how are Swiss online retailers approaching this issue? Comparing supply and demand.

PDF Download (207 kB)

Shipping

Sustainability

Online retailer survey: Which of the following eco-shipping options do you offer your customers?

Customer survey: How highly do you rate the following environmentally-friendly shipping options?

Click & Collect

45%

28%

Consolidated shipping (bundling of partial deliveries) for more sustainable delivery

37%

56%

Carbon-neutral shipping (through carbon offsetting) without any extra charge

26%

44%

Link for managing the delivery (e.g. time, location) in order to guarantee successful delivery on the first attempt

21%

58%

Slower delivery of consignments to ensure more sustainable delivery

18%

33%

Delivery to third-party collection points (e.g. terminals, Swiss Post branches)

16%

23%

Use of locally adapted logistics solutions for more sustainable shipping (e.g. bicycle delivery services in combination with trains, eCargo bikes)

13%

34%

Carbon-neutral shipping (through carbon offsetting) with an extra charge

4%

27%

Online retailer

Customer

The majority of the eco-shipping options offered by online retailers do not meet customer needs.


Packaging

Sustainability

Online retailer survey: Which of the following aspects are already implemented by your company when it comes to your packaging system?

Customer survey: How important to you are the following aspects regarding the packaging of the ordered goods?

Size of boxes optimized to suit individual consignments

74%

77%

Return items with the same packaging

55%

83%

Reuse of packaging or filler material from returns for other shipping processes

55%

69%

Shipping of consignments in their original packaging

50%

62%

Recycling of packaging or filler material from returns

49%

66%

No use of filler material

27%

48%

Reusable packaging to save on resources

24%

69%

Online retailer

Customer

The use of reusable packaging is considered an important aspect by customers and yet there is room for improvement here on the part of the retailers.


Overview of sustainability aspects

Sustainability

Online retailer survey: How important do you think your customers consider the following sustainability aspects to be?

Customer survey: How important do you rate the following sustainability aspects when shopping online?

Information on product origin

75%

79%

Sustainability of the products

69%

74%

Sustainable packaging

67%

70%

Information on the manufacturing conditions of products

63%

64%

Sustainable shipping options

43%

59%

Sustainable approach to returns

37%

70%

Information on transport

29%

56%

Sustainable operation of the online shop

24%

58%

Online retailer

Customer

Online retailers underestimate how important having a sustainably run online shop and sustainable returns management is to the customers.

Study design

Customer survey 2021 Swiss e-commerce trend indicator

Sample size

11'545 Teilnehmende (bereinigt)

Survey period

18 to 31 May 2021

Method

Quantitative online survey

Questions

26 closed questions

Online Retailer Survey 2021 Sustainability in Swiss e-commerce

Sample size

248 online retailers

Survey period

22 March to 30 June 2021

Method

Quantitative online survey

Questions

23 closed, 1 semi-open and 4 open questions