Online vs. offline: How the Swiss population shops

As part of a representative survey, the online comparison service examined the shopping channels used by the Swiss population. The results show: Depending on the product, there are huge differences in the choice of preferred purchasing channels.

The Corona crisis has given shopping on the Internet another boost. This year, asked 1503 people in a representative online survey which channels they use most often for shopping.

The purchase channels available were Internet via desktop computer, mobile Internet via smartphone, mobile Internet via tablet, store or branch, broker or telephone. No information was also possible - for example, if the respondents never buy a particular product at all. Multiple channel selection was also possible, as many consumers buy certain products on different channels.

It was calculated for each product how many percent of the respondents who buy a product use the different purchasing channels. The sum of the percentages of all purchasing channels per product is more than 100 percent in each case due to the possibility of multiple selection.

Despite Corona continues to store in the store

Despite the acceleration of digitization, there are still many products in the Corona Crisis that are predominantly purchased in stores rather than online. These include groceries, which 96 percent of the population buys in stores. This is followed by eyeglasses (94% in-store), furniture (91%), cars (90%), bicycles (90%), motorcycles (87%), cosmetics (87%), shoes (86%), gifts (84%), electrical appliances (80%) and clothes (80%).

Nevertheless: "The trend of digitalization in shopping will continue in Switzerland," Benjamin Manz, CEO of, is certain.

Digitization will also prevail in shopping

Many products, such as flights, travel, train tickets, music and software, are already being bought on the Internet rather than in offline stores as they used to be. For other products, the Internet will soon replace the store as the most popular purchasing channel in Switzerland, according to estimates. These include bank accounts, computers and electrical appliances.

"It is also a question of time before the smartphone replaces the desktop computer at home as the most important Internet shopping device," says Manz. This can also be seen from the fact that cell phones are already significantly more popular as a purchasing channel among the youngest respondents than among older consumers.

Online shopping most popular for flights and travel

Flights and travel are purchased online in Switzerland to a greater extent than any other of the products surveyed. The Internet is the dominant purchasing channel for flights: 88 percent use the Internet in general: 73 percent buy flights via desktop computer, 24 percent via smartphone and 19 percent via tablet.

The picture is similar for travel, with 86 percent using the Internet in general: 72 percent buy travel via desktop computer, 25 percent via smartphone and 18 percent via tablet.

Cell phone most popular for train tickets

By far the most important purchasing channel for train tickets is the Internet, with 82 percent. The composition of the individual Internet channels is interesting. 36 percent buy train tickets via desktop computer, 55 percent via smartphone and 12 percent via tablet.

"This means that train tickets are the only products surveyed that the Swiss population prefers to buy on a cell phone rather than on a desktop screen. The reason is probably primarily the SBB app, which is used very frequently," explains Noé Stemmer, analyst at

Food: offline shopping dominates in Switzerland

For groceries, the offline store is stronger as a purchasing channel than for any other of the products surveyed. Despite Corona, 96 percent of respondents still store in stores.

Nevertheless, almost one-fifth of the population (18%) have already discovered the Internet as a purchasing channel. 13 percent use the Internet via desktop computer, 7 percent the smartphone and 4 percent the tablet as a purchasing channel.

Cars, motorcycles and bicycles are purchased offline

Cars, motorcycles and bicycles continue to be purchased offline. By far the most dominant purchasing channel for cars is the store/branch - or the garage - with 90 percent. Only 15 percent cite the Internet as a purchasing channel. The figures are virtually the same for motorcycles.

For bicycles, too, the Internet still plays a subordinate role as a purchasing channel at 15 percent: offline business continues to lead the way at 90 percent.

Computers, software and electrical appliances

Thanks to Brack, Digitec & Co., Swiss people already buy electrical appliances and computers online quite frequently. Nevertheless, the offline channel is still more important: 80 percent buy electrical appliances in stores, but only 56 percent on the Internet. It's a similar story with computers: 69 percent still buy in stores, while 52 percent also already buy computers on the Internet.

In the case of software, on the other hand, the Internet channel has finally won out: 75 percent now buy software on the Internet and only 38 percent in stores.

Clothes, shoes, glasses and cosmetics

For clothes, offline shopping remains the most important: 80 percent say they buy clothes in stores. However, 59 percent of respondents also already buy their clothes online (44% of respondents on desktop computer, 25% on mobile and 14% on tablet).

For shoes, the Internet as a shopping channel is still somewhat less widespread than for clothing, at 45 percent. 86 percent continue to buy shoes (also) in stores. The situation is similar for cosmetics, which are (also) purchased on the Internet by only 35 percent.

In Switzerland, the Internet revolution has almost completely bypassed eyeglasses, although there are already some online eyeglass retailers. 94 percent still buy glasses in stores, only 8 percent also buy them online.

Furniture, gifts and books

The Swiss still prefer to buy furniture directly in stores. 91 percent cite the store as their purchasing channel, while only 35 percent also buy furniture on the Internet.

It's a different story for gifts. Offline shopping is still by far the most important: 84 percent say they buy gifts in stores. However, 66 percent of respondents also buy their gifts online (52% on desktop computers, 28 percent on cell phones and 17 percent on tablets).

Books are interesting: 69 percent say they buy books offline in stores. The Internet is on a par - not least because of Amazon: 69 percent buy books (also) via the Internet.

Banks: Majority of credit cards purchased online, mortgages in the branch

The majority of the Swiss population continues to open a bank account most frequently in the branch - namely 63 percent of those surveyed. 33 percent use the internet via desktop computer, 13 percent via smartphone, 7 percent via tablet. Regardless of the individual devices, 41 percent use the internet to open a bank account.

For credit cards, the Internet has already overtaken the branch - albeit only just: 55 percent apply for credit cards most frequently on the Internet (43% via desktop computer, 14% on smartphone, 9% on tablet). At the branch, the figure is only 45 percent.

In the case of mortgages, the branch continues to dominate, with 57 percent of respondents taking out their mortgage there. Brokers follow with 35 percent. Only 18 percent take out a mortgage on the Internet.

In the case of less complex personal loans, 33 percent of respondents already take out loans online, a significantly higher proportion than for mortgages. 50 percent take out the loan in a branch, 28 percent with a credit broker.

Health insurance most frequently concluded online

In the case of insurance, interestingly enough, there are also greater differences depending on the type of insurance. For health insurance, the Internet is the purchasing channel with the highest value: 50 percent of respondents say they use the Internet to purchase health insurance (41% via desktop computer, 9% via smartphone, 9% via tablet). Twenty-four percent go to a branch office, 27 percent go to a broker, and 20 percent purchase health insurance over the phone.

For property insurance, brokers top the list at 43 percent, followed by the Internet at 35 percent, the branch office at 28 percent, and the telephone at 16 percent.

Life insurance is also most often purchased from a broker (53%), followed by the branch (33%), the Internet (24%), and the telephone (11%).

Where to buy cell phone subscriptions and Internet subscriptions

The Internet channel is already the most popular for buying cell phone subscriptions and Internet subscriptions. 55 percent of respondents say they buy cell phone subscriptions on the Internet (42% via desktop computer, 19% via cell phone and 10% via tablet). However, 51 percent still buy their cell phone subscription in a store.

The online channel is already more dominant for Internet subscriptions. 66 percent of respondents say they buy Internet subscriptions on the Internet (52% via desktop computer, 18% via cell phone and 12% via tablet). Only 37 percent still buy their Internet subscription in a store.

Young people store particularly often with their cell phones

There are generational differences in the choice of shopping channels. This is most evident in smartphone purchases. For the youngest age group between 18 and 25, the cell phone is significantly more important as a purchasing channel than for older consumers.

Take flights, for example: 77 percent of the age group surveyed between 18 and 25 buy flights via desktop computer, 36 percent via smartphone. Among 26- to 49-year-olds, 73 percent buy flights via desktop computer and 31 percent via smartphone. Among 50- to 74-year-olds, 72 percent buy their flights via desktop computer and only 11 percent via smartphone.

Differences depending on the region

In the countryside, the Internet is somewhat less popular as a purchasing channel than in Swiss cities. The differences between German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland are also interesting. In German-speaking Switzerland, the smartphone is already more important as a purchasing channel than in French-speaking Switzerland.

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