How to Take Your Shopify Store International

Find out how to take your Shopify store international and make more sales by reaching customers around the world.

Starting a Shopify eCommerce store isn’t easy. It can feel nerve-wracking as you start to take the next steps on your journey. It’s no surprise that most of us choose to stay close to home at the beginning. You can find your feet, build a community, and start to get into a rhythm with your Shopify store.

Once you’re ready, taking your store international doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. It’s not without its challenges but the rewards can be a gamechanger. We’re walking you through the reasons why you should sell internationally and how to overcome those daunting hurdles. With our help, you’re guaranteed to go global in no time.  

Growing a business is all about taking baby steps. Switching from local selling to an international customer base is a natural evolution for your Shopify store. While it will require a lot of late nights and a little patience, selling internationally can take your business to the next level. 

If you’ve come across this article, you’re probably weighing up the pros and cons of selling internationally. Before you jump off into the deep end, we’re rounding up a few of the top reasons why international expansion should be in the growth strategy for your eCommerce store. It’s not all about seeing dollar signs.

When you only ship your products locally, you’re limiting yourself to a small market demographic. Europe alone has almost 300 million online shoppers, United States boosts another 230 million shoppers. Even expanding to one new region of the world can turbo-charge your website’s growth and sales.

You always want to be thinking one step ahead of your competition. Once you’ve built a brand presence in your domestic market, you want to look further afield to how you can establish a presence in other markets. If you hold off on expanding your Shopify store, you can guarantee that your competition will fill the gap you leave open.

If you sell a seasonal product, like ski gear or swimsuits, you want to go international to turn your seasonal store into a year-round hit. You won’t be relying on just the climate of your local market, and you can continue to sell your seasonal products throughout the year to other countries.

Going international can also allow you to take advantage of holidays and events in other countries. You can carry your seasonal Christmas marketing through to Chinese New Year to prevent a post-Christmas dip in sales. You can achieve a increased revenue cycle by selling in multiple markets that have their own peak seasons.

Most online shopping happens between 10 am to 11 am and then 8 pm to 9 pm. These two peak time frames are when you can expect to make your largest volume of sales. When you operate domestically, you might find that there are several hours of the day when your store is effectively closed because it’s not a peak time in your local market. 

By switching to international sales, your Shopify store will be active virtually 24/7 as customers visit at different times, allowing you to take advantage of the peak time in each market. If you want to maximize your profits, going international is the best way to effectively have your eCommerce website open 24/7. 

Are you someone who is willing to pay more for a high-quality item? You’re not alone. 61% of Chinese shoppers have said that they would pay a higher price tag for items made in America than made locally. It’s easy to trade on a ‘made in Italy’ or ‘made in England’ brand reputation, which can boost the selling price of your product and help you win over a new market of customers.

Rome wasn’t built in a day – and neither will your Shopify store. If international eCommerce was easy, then everyone would do it. While it might feel like an uphill battle, addressing the challenges is the first step of your journey. Being realistic about the challenges lets you put your journey into context and makes the challenges easier to overcome.

Here is your cheat guide to some of the biggest challenges that you’ll face when going global with your eCommerce store.

According to a recent Shopify survey, 92% of customers want to be able to browse and purchase in their own currency. As you expand your business, you’ll need to consider the local currencies of your new market demographics. Creating a localized shopping experience for your new customers is the main challenge you’ll face when expanding, but this is a hurdle we’ll be exploring in this article.

Taxes are one of the biggest headaches that any business deals with. Not only are you having to stay on top of your own tax system, but you’ll also need to research and stay on top of the different tax regulations for your new markets. 

If you’re planning on expanding to the United States, you’ll need to remove tax on the sticker price and instead have it calculated at checkout. If you’re expanding to Europe, you’ll need to include tax in the sticker price instead. 

You’ll also have to come to terms with the different import duties and customs charges that your customers may be liable for.

The goal when going global with your Shopify store is to create a localized experience for your customers. International domains are something you want to consider as it boosts the likelihood of visitors purchasing from your website by making your website feel like a local one. Customers in the UK are less likely to buy from a .com domain, meaning that you want to utilize the option of subdomains to create a specific URL for UK visitors to use. You’ll need to set up several subdomains to create a more localized shopping experience for your international customers.

Once you start expanding your Shopify store, the chances are that you’ll be selling to customers who don’t have English as their native language. While some Shopify themes will take care of translations for you, not every theme does. International customers prefer to shop through websites that operate in their native language, meaning that this is one challenge you’ll have to find a solution for.

After you’ve overcome these challenges, it’s time to get your products in front of your target demographic. You’ll need to adapt your marketing strategy to work for international customers, especially if you’re leveraging social media marketing. You’ll need to ensure that your marketing incorporates the native language and currency of your new demographic.

Do you want to know the secret about going global? It’s all in your strategy. This one thing will make or break your success. It’s like sitting an exam without studying for it. Your high school teacher’s mantra of ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is 100% true.

When you break your expansion plans down step-by-step, it becomes more manageable. You can think of this section as the ultimate to-do list for your Shopify store.

World domination can’t happen all at once. Instead of throwing your net too wide, be intentional with where you want to expand to. Start by choosing a few countries and regions that are near to your original location, as this makes shipping easier.

You can help narrow down your list of countries to expand to by looking at your analytics on your Shopify website. Look at the locations for visitors from other countries and choose one or two of the most popular to start your expansion with.

One of the practical issues you’ll have to solve when selling internationally is currency. Buyers don’t want to see prices listed in a different currency as their own as it can make them click off your website. Shopify has found that 33% of visitors won’t consider purchasing from a website that doesn’t offer their own currency.

You can easily add the buyer’s local currency to your Shopify website by using Shopify Payments. On the Shopify Payments setting, you should the ‘add a new country/region’ option before selecting the market that you are planning to sell to. Once you’ve selected it, the currency for this market will become available for your visitors. 

Your prices will be automatically converted using the real-time foreign exchange rate. By using the Shopify Geolocation app, you can ensure that Shopify can identify the IP address of visitors to ensure they are shown their local pricing.

The tax setup differs from one market to the next. In the United States, taxes are usually not included in the sticker price and are instead calculated at checkout. Europe operates differently and includes taxes in the displayed price. 

If you’re using Shopify, you can select the ‘include of exclude tax based on your customer’s country’ option in your tax calculation setting. You can utilize this option if you’re using the FX rate for your currency exchange.

One of the biggest changes you’ll face when moving from local to international customers is shipping. You may need to find another shipping provider, especially if you’ve been relying on local mail services. Every country and region will have its own shipping cost, so you’ll need to break down shipping options by location.

International shipping is expensive, but there are ways to make it work. You want to research different courier options to find one that offers the most competitive pricing and a variety of services. While most customers will choose standard shipping, some may want the option of express international shipping.

You want to be transparent about shipping times when working with international customers. Your courier service should be able to provide you with an accurate estimate of delivery time frames. 

You’ll also want to research the relevant import taxes and duties that your customer may be liable for. While these are sometimes included in the shipping cost, they are sometimes charged upon delivery if the order is valued over a certain amount.

If your product isn’t suitable for international shipping, you can narrow the shipment parameters to specific items. You can also consider the option of increasing the cost of your items to enable the option of cheaper shipping. After all, customers are more likely to spend $100 and get free shipping than spend $70 and pay an extra $30 for international shipping.

The next step to creating a localized shopping experience for your customers is to utilize international domains. Subdomains will work in most cases and are more affordable and easier to set up. 

If you’re using a Shopify-managed domain, you can establish a subdomain in the admin section of your website. If you’re using a third-party domain, you can check their specific requirements for subdomains before connecting them to your website.

Once your subdomain is up and running, you can use the management section to select the correct language and pricing options.

You need to translate your website to the native language of your new market. Just like having their own currency, most international customers prefer to shop on websites that use their native language. Most eCommerce platforms, including Shopify, make translating your website easy using translation application plug-ins.

Once your website is up and running for international orders, it’s time to shift your focus to marketing. Facebook Ads Manager allows you to target buyers by demographic, helping to localize your marketing to create a more engaging experience for your new customers. 

You can also leverage social media sites like TikTok to localize to the preferences of your buyers. This step includes displaying your social media ads in their native language and pricing.

Going global isn’t easy. It can seem complicated and stressful. You might even feel like you want to rip your hair out. But it doesn’t have to be like this.  This guide is full of insider secrets and breaks down the process step-by-step. Bookmark this article and use it as your touch stone when taking your Shopify store to the next level.

Posted by
John From Jotting

Shopify developer, SEO expert, and Social Media marketer who has been in ecommerce game for over 4 years. I've worked on 100's of Shopify ecommcerce stores, understanding each store owners SEO, product, and marketing needs.

2 Replies to How to Take Your Shopify Store International

  1. Hi John,

    What should I do if Shopify Payments is not available in my country? The currency changer is a wonderful choice, but at checkout, the consumer will see the primary store currency:(


    1. Hi Roman, If shopify payments isn’t available in your country you need to use a Third Party provider. This is available in the Shopify settings, the options available is wide but depending on your country, some/most third party suppliers may not work. The Third Party Supplier will also note if they accept international currencies.

      Unfortunately I can’t recommend a Third Party provider, you would have to do your own research based on your country.

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