30 million import­ed small goods consignments

Whether it’s charging cables, mobile phone cases or novelty items such as inflatable unicorns, the volume of imported small goods consignments, mainly from Asia, is growing every year. A challenge for our infrastructure, but also an opportunity for Swiss Post to better utilize its letter processing capacities.

30 million

imported small goods consignments, including almost 24 million from Asia, were processed by Swiss Post in 2019.

20 %

of revenue in the online mail order business was generated by import consignments. In 2010, the figure was just 10 percent.

Is this smartwatch any good? Those headphones are really cheap. And that next party definitely needs some balloons. When Philipp heads online to take a look at Asian sales portals, he always finds something. His shopping basket fills up quickly, and before he knows it, he has entered his credit card details.

Philipp is a regular online shopper and one of many who order goods from abroad. While import consignments in 2010 represented just 10 percent of online mail order revenue, the figure for 2019 was 20 percent. 85 percent of these consignments are small goods weighing less than two kilograms, which are sent as letters under international agreements. In Switzerland, Swiss Post handles customs clearance, sorting and delivery.

Swiss Post processed around 30 million of these small goods consignments in 2019, around 24 million of which came from Asia. The import volumes arrive in Switzerland via the foreign postal organizations or one of the 16 Asendia branches. “It isn’t just the large volumes that present a challenge, but also the differing sizes and types of packaging,” says Urs Singer, Head of Distribution Agreements and Import at Asendia Switzerland, a PostMail profit center. “With our sorting systems, however, we can manage all this efficiently. The boom in Asian online retail is also an opportunity for Swiss Post to better utilize its sorting and delivery capacities in letter processing.” Following a Universal Postal Union resolution to raise the tariffs for consignments from Asia to the same level as industrialized countries from 2020, this business will be economically viable in the future.