Why is Amazon not active in Switzerland?

Amazon starts with free deliveries * to Switzerland - is that so bad now?

This is certainly not how the Swiss retail landscape imagined the Christmas business to be And many a retailer, whether stationary or online, is likely to have almost dropped the coffee they had just poured while reading their emails on Sunday.

Some Swiss Amazon customers were informed by email that Amazon.de from November 1st for a period of 6 months now also articles outside of books and media without shipping costs (* from a value of EUR 49.-) delivers to Switzerland without shipping costs.

With the shipping option "AmazonGlobal Switzerland“Millions of articles from various product categories are now available. Unfortunately, the official press release doesn't give much more than that.

Just in time for the Christmas business, the campaign is no coincidence. And the 6 months are certainly just a foretaste of what may come next as a test.

A.But it is still not a full-fledged market entry - Amazon.ch is still being redirected to the Amazon.de domain and prices are still displayed in euros. You also first have to find a product that can also be delivered to Switzerland. Then you still have to be able to use it in Switzerland (I examined the pitfalls with notebooks and technical devices in detail a few days ago), and then from the consumer's point of view it should be cheaper than in the “high-price island” Switzerland.


No need to panic yet - here (still) a little sedative pill

You currently have to search a little longer until you find products outside of books and media that meet the above criteria. First of all, you have to concentrate on articles that come from Amazon itself, and not from the numerous marketplace participants. These often do not deliver to Switzerland at all, or they do not grant free shipping as Amazon has now announced. Or you have products that can only be delivered to Switzerland via the expensive AmazonGlobal Express delivery service. However, there is a note on another help page that express deliveries are made of these Handbags and shoes are still excluded. So dealers in these categories can still sip a little coffee - but in my opinion that is only a matter of time.

It is difficult to identify a system of the products that can be delivered. This Recaro child seat is not delivered to Switzerland. I don't get an iPad either. But this notebook, then yes. (More on this later)

It is also not really clear whether the customer will have to pay more fees or the Swiss VAT. (More on this in the detailed consideration)

If the prices mentioned correspond to the actual prices that the Swiss end customer has to pay, then certain product groups could be very attractive. Electronics products, if available in Switzerland, are certainly not included. The prices in this country are too good for that.


A storm is brewing - also in B2B!

The calm before the storm is over now - Amazon is initially blowing gently and will certainly continue to increase the wind strength. Even without this measure, Amazon.de has already been estimated at 2014 Sales in Switzerland from CHF 350 million to 2nd place of the Swiss online shops pushed. Compared to the approx. CHF 11.7 billion the Amazon 2014 in Germany implemented, that's just a "touch". But it shows the dimensions in which Amazon is on the move and you just have to imagine what is going on when in the SSwitzerland is worth 1 billion or more is achieved. And that's just B2C sales - a short while ago it was the launch of amazon.de/industrieand here I quickly came across products that if the quantities are changed, then also without shipping costs are delivered to Switzerland: Example 1 and Example 2.

In my eyes, it's only a matter of time until the Swiss trade gets to feel the power of Amazon vol. Until then, I'll wait and have coffee.



In addition: A detailed view of the products for Switzerland

As a customer, I currently have no way of quickly finding products that can be delivered to Switzerland. The filter options:

only help me to a limited extent - because “AmazonGlobal” is not yet “AmazonGlobal Switzerland”. But you only notice that in the shopping cart. The above notebook example looks like this when you open the further information on shipping costs and taxes:


The fact is, there are no shipping costs. The German VAT is deducted and an advance payment of an import fee (declaration) is required. Ultimately, as a customer, you do not yet know whether it will be lower or even higher.

In this case, this corresponds exactly to the Swiss VAT of 8% - (I have also seen products for which this value was higher than the pure VAT amount.)

Amazon writes at the end of this shopping cart that the prices include VAT. So far so good.

In the Amazon help on this topic (the link was also mentioned in the Amazon Info Mail) there are contradicting statements (excerpts):

Import tax (VAT) and de minimis limit: Items purchased from Amazon.de are subject to import tax. However, this is only charged if the tax amount is at least CHF 5 (marginal earnings limit).

Upper limit of goods value: The upper limit for the value of goods (including transport costs) for VAT-exempt imports is CHF 62.00 for items with the regular sales tax rate of 8%.

Postal transfer tax: As soon as the tax amount exceeds CHF 5.00, a consignment subject to tax is created. In these cases, a processing fee from the Swiss Post, the so-called “Postvorweisungstaxe”, is added to the import duties.

Since October 1, 2008, a fee of CHF 18.00 has been due for simplified customs clearance for tax amounts up to CHF 500.00 and a fee of CHF 35.00 for ordinary customs clearance for tax amounts over CHF 500.00.

This postal transfer fee is also subject to VAT. It is usually charged per package.

What tax rate should I expect?

Music, DVD, video, computer and video games, software, clothing, sporting goods, jewelry, clocks, cars & motorcycles, electronics, & photo, kitchen, home & garden, office supplies, musical instruments, toys

For items from these areas, the normal tax rate of currently 8% of the value of the goods applies, plus transport and postal fee.

So, according to this information, additional fees would have to be due when the customer receives the delivery. But this assumption is not certain and only test orders will help. (We are happy to receive testimonials in the comments) The reference to a regulation from 2008 also makes me rather puzzled.

The fact is that for deliveries with a goods value of less than CHF 62, almost no or only very low import fees are charged, as this example shows:


From the customer's perspective, it is still very difficult to find an item - and plugs and keyboards are then very likely not Swiss versions. As I said about testimonials in the comments, we would be happy.

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Senior Consultant / Partner of Carpathia AG, the independent and neutral management consultancy for e-business and e-commerce. Until 2013 he worked successfully in management positions at leading online retail companies in Switzerland and is a lecturer for social media, e-commerce and social commerce as well as a speaker at conferences on these topics.