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5 steps to opening an online shop in Switzerland

1. Business plan
2. Concept Validation
3. Identity creation
4. Lawful Registration
5. Open online shop
6. Your first customers.

"You said five steps, why six?" Yes ok - I promise the step I added will make all the difference to your project.

Let's start with the most unpleasant but most important phase: THE BUSINESS PLAN.
1. Create a business plan for your online shop
Why is the business plan so important? Because a good product (assuming yours is good) is not enough to start a successful Swiss online shop. It is therefore important to ask yourself the right questions:

Does my product meet the needs of a specific customer group? Who exactly am I reaching with this product?
Am I making enough money to cover my expenses and earn a salary?
What are my competitive advantages? Why does a customer buy from me instead of somewhere else?
How do I find my first customers?
The business plan aims to answer these questions, fill in any gaps and identify your strengths and weaknesses. It is therefore an essential step.

Tip:

Avoid assumptions as much as possible and research concrete information. Feel free to research online or locally or call.
See who your competitors will be and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Define your competitive advantages precisely. In other words, what makes a customer buy from you and not from a competing online store?

Find out more about the current status of online shops in Switzerland. You can download free reports from Datatrans (in German or French).
Describe the logistics: d. H. where do the goods come from, where are they stored, who prepares the shipping and returns and how?

Without specific research, the assumptions and projections in your business plan will quickly become outdated as you delve further into your project and look for your first customers.

2. Have your concept validated
When one decides to start a business, one tends to keep the idea a secret and talk about it as little as possible. People are afraid that their idea will be stolen. Now you need to do the opposite: talk about it with those around you as much as you can, for the following reasons:

Everyone has ideas all the time. You probably aren't the first with this idea and you won't be the last.
It is very unlikely that anyone will say or think, "Ah! What a good idea! I think I'll drop all my life plans and steal his idea."
Crucial to the success of opening your online store is how you implement this idea.
Third-party feedback on your concept allows you to modify and improve it.
Validation of your idea through surveys and prototypes
Check what people think of your idea and whether it fits their needs. For example, create a survey using Google Surveys. Google Surveys allows you to create and distribute your survey. However, it is currently only available in Switzerland for German speakers. If you want to conduct surveys in English, you need to create them using another tool (Google Forms or Typeform) and distribute them through your own network, such as Facebook or LinkedIn.

Or better yet, do a test by trying to sell your product on eBay, at a market, or among your relatives. If the test works, it's time to move on.

3. Identity creation
Your customers need to feel the essence behind your product and your company. You want to be inspired, to hear your story.

Choose a name that is short, easy to pronounce, timeless, and easy to remember.
Check whether your domain name is still available on hostpoint.ch.
If you opt for a sole proprietorship (entreprise individual / sole proprietorship), your family name must be included in the company name. Don't worry, there is no need to include it in your domain name or advertising, only in your official documents. For example, your site could be called “bazaar.ch” and your company “Bazaar – orientalische Möbelschmiede”.
Creating a story and atmosphere – collecting images and keywords. The goal is to give your online shop a personality, a character.

4. Register your online shop with the Swiss authorities
Your website requires a legal framework. Incorporating a company in Switzerland is fairly easy and quick. We recommend the Swiss Confederation's free website easy-gov, which will guide you through the process. Note that your only legal obligation as a sole proprietorship is to register with your canton's cantonal compensation fund.

5. Set up your online store
It is possible to set up an online shop yourself. In which cases does this make sense?

Your online shop is a secondary activity and should not replace your main activity.
They sell a small number of different products.
You have no business goals to achieve.
They have plenty of time to study and an affinity for photography, the internet and promotional tactics.

In these cases, try shopify, for example.

6. Customer Search
Everything is there: your name, your website and your products. Now comes the hardest part: finding your customers. If you have already hired a web marketer, he/she will help you with this step. Otherwise, here are a few tips:

Activate your personal network
Learn more about search engine optimization (SEO) and optimize your website
Start an AdWords advertising campaign
Start your newsletter
Think about alternative marketing strategies; such as inbound marketing

Tip:

When it comes to starting your online store, surround yourself with experienced people who know the industry.
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