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Switzerland tops the global rankings for e-commerce

[Photo: Rupixen/Unsplash]

Investing in the logistics sector in Switzerland might be a smart move. The Alpine country has climbed to the top of UNCTAD’s Global E-commerce Index 2020, which was published this morning.

Every year UNCTAD – the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – ranks 152 countries on their readiness to engage in online shopping, which is worth an estimated $4.4 trillion globally and continues to increase.

Countries are scored on access to secure internet servers, reliability of postal services and infrastructure and the percentage of population that uses the internet and has an account with a financial institution or a provider of mobile money services.

Switzerland has overtaken the Netherlands and has gained the number one position for the first time, as 97% of the Swiss population use the internet regularly and 98% have an account. Its higher postal reliability score also puts the country ahead of the Netherlands, a close second with 96% of people shopping online.

Denmark is in third place, up from 6th last year. The United Kingdom is 5th, down one place from the 2019 rankings, followed by Germany, Finland, Ireland and Norway.

On a global level Europe remains by far the most prepared region for e-commerce, according to UNCTAD, with over 70% of the population regularly shopping online. Eight out of ten countries in the top 10 are European. The only two non-European on the list are Asian: Singapore, in 4th position and Hong Kong in 10th, replacing Australia in that position.

The United States ranks 12th in the Index, but internet penetration there is lower than in any of the economies in the top 10.

The least developed countries occupy 18 of the bottom 20 positions. Costa Rica was the best performer in Latin America and Mauritius scored the highest among sub-African countries.

UNCTAD is keen to highlight that the e-commerce divide remains huge and emphasises that weaknesses in the least ready countries must be addressed in order to spread the benefits of digital transformation to as many people as possible.

Shamika Sirimanne

“The Covid-19 pandemic has made it more urgent to strengthen countries’ e-trade readiness,” said Shamika Sirimanne, director of the UNCTAD division that prepares the annual index. “Governments must do more, otherwise businesses and people will miss out on the opportunities offered by the digital economy and they will be less prepared to deal with various challenges.”

Even among G20 countries the gap is huge: in the UK, for example, 87% of the population shops online, while in India that percentage plummets to 3%.