Post-purchase excellence: study shows what online stores can score with

Post-purchase excellence: study shows what online stores can score with

At a time when competition between online retailers is becoming increasingly intense, outstanding customer experiences during and after the purchase are no longer just a bonus, but a crucial success factor. The "Post-Purchase Experience Study" by MS Direct and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZAHW) shows e-commerce companies how they can offer their customers the best possible customer experience, focusing on Switzerland and the UK.

Waive shipping and return costs where possible, offer the usual payment methods, ship on time, and make it as easy as possible for customers to return goods – this is how the most important recommendations of the post-purchase experience study can be summarized in a few words. They are based on the results of test purchases from the largest online retailers in Switzerland and the UK respectively. The survey examined the so-called post-purchase experience, i.e. the customer experience after the ordering process up to the complete return. The focus was on the Swiss market.

“As an e-commerce service provider with customers throughout Europe, it is important for us to always closely monitor the situation in the industry and be aware of current developments,” says Dr. Eva Tyssen, VP Product & Customer Success at MS Direct. “With the results from the study, we can now provide online retailers with more informed advice on how to improve their post-purchase experience when trading with consumers in Switzerland and the UK.”

“Based on the study results, we have gained new exciting insights into online commerce, especially with customers in Switzerland,” reports Dr. Darius Zumstein, Head of E-Commerce Lab, ZHAW. “In particular, the big and well-known players e-commerce set the standard in many areas and can thus serve smaller competitors excellently as best practice examples and guidance.”

For the mystery shopping, the study makers made purchases from 54 online retailers from Switzerland and 20 from the UK. There they ordered goods from various product categories including fashion, home & living and electrical accessories worth around 100 Swiss francs, which corresponds to around 104 euros. They then evaluated the customer experience on the basis of 56 criteria. The results show what is currently common practice in e-commerce, from which customer expectations can be derived.

Free delivery often only with minimum order value

Whether a merchant delivers to Switzerland free of shipping costs often depends on the value of the shopping cart. 64 percent of merchants require a minimum amount to deliver for free. Only one-third of online retailers offer unconditional free shipping. In terms of shipping speed, the average for the stores tested was 4.2 days in Switzerland and 2.3 days in the UK. As the UK is a pioneer as the largest e-commerce market in Europe, this result can also be seen as groundbreaking for further development in Switzerland. As far as punctuality is concerned, most of the online stores tested from Switzerland kept their promise: 57 percent of the stores delivered on the specified date, two percent even earlier.

Wide range of payment options

For successful e-commerce abroad, it is essential to know the regional payment preferences. The test purchases from Switzerland showed that most online stores offered at least four different payment methods to choose from. The national e-commerce companies tended to be somewhat more broadly positioned in this area than their competitors from abroad. The clear frontrunner was credit cards, which were accepted by all online stores tested in Switzerland. 70 percent of the companies also offered the TWINT and Paypal payment systems. This was followed by purchase on account.

There are hurdles with returns

When it comes to handling returns, the online stores surveyed from Switzerland often don’t make it so easy for their customers. Only 30 percent of the packages received during the test purchases were equipped with return-friendly elements, such as adhesive strips for resealing the package or a self-adhesive returns label. In addition, half of the retailers expected the return to be registered in advance. Free returns for the entire range were offered by only a quarter of retailers in this sample. The rest of the online retailers tested in Switzerland charge fees for returns, usually between 5.50 and 9.70 Swiss francs, which corresponds to about 5.70 to 10.10 euros. Even though it is in the interest of retailers to keep return rates low, making returns more difficult reduces the shopping experience. For satisfied customers who like to store around again, it’s a good idea to keep the return policy simple. It is better to use innovative methods to reduce the volume of returns in advance. Best practice examples from the study were provided here by two providers who displayed the return rate for each product in the store. This gives customers a good indication of how satisfied other buyers were with this item.

Abolition of industrial tariffs in Switzerland facilitates trade

From January 1, 2024, Switzerland will no longer levy import duties on industrial products. MS Direct and the ZHAW are thus publishing the study “Boost your Post Purchase Experience” shortly before the date on which the import of goods into Switzerland will be significantly simplified and the Alpine country will become even more attractive for shippers from the European Union. As a leading partner to online retailers for automated fulfillment and cross-border e-commerce solutions, MS Direct will continue to provide its customers with expert support under these new conditions. The study results provide a good basis for advice for all companies that want to offer the Swiss the best customer experience when shopping online.

About MS Direct AG

MS Direct AG is the leading partner to the online retail industry for automated fulfillment and cross-border e-commerce solutions. Our customers benefit from an “all-round carefree package” of scalable fulfillment, physical logistics and digital solutions: Whether nationwide or from the European Union to third countries such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom, MS Direct ensures that online orders arrive quickly and smoothly, turning shoppers into loyal fans.

About the E-Commerce Lab at the ZHAW School of Management and Law

The E-Commerce Lab at the Institute of Marketing Management (IMM) of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) is the leading Swiss competence center for online commerce. It conducts interdisciplinary, applied research as well as education and training in the field of e-commerce. The Lab collaborates with numerous research partners such as Worldline, TWINT, PostFinance, Swiss Post, CRIF, planet Group, nets, EOS and JMC Software.


MS Direct AG

Carolin Garbe, Head of Marketing, MS Direct AG, phone +41 71 274 67 17,

Eva Tyssen, VP Product & Customer Success, MS Direct AG, +41 71 274 66 66,


Christian Busenhart, Head of Communications, ZHAW School of Management and Law,
Phone +41 58 934 77 41,

Dr. Darius Zumstein, Head of E-Commerce Lab, ZHAW School of Management and Law, phone +41 78 800 01 44,