Hello! Bonjour! Hola! People all around the world are more interconnected than ever — and the international ecommerce market is no different. Thanks to platforms like Shopify Plus, it has gotten significantly easier for shoppers to purchase products from stores worldwide, with packages traveling thousands of miles before arriving on doorsteps. In fact, one recent Shopify survey found that 35% of its total traffic is from non-U.S. shoppers.
International ecommerce poses a massive opportunity for online retailers to increase conversions and grow their brands. But when it comes to getting started on your own, you might feel overwhelmed. For instance, a whopping 92% of international shoppers prefer browsing and purchasing in their own currency — and that’s just one example of the tremendous work that goes into grabbing a piece of the international ecommerce pie.
Good thing we’re here to help with a map to Shopify Plus’s world of localization, international shipping, and currency toggles. Let’s go… or shall we say, andiamo!
Choose Your International Target Markets
Global expansion is a noble goal, but it’s not always realistic… yet. Though there are benefits to attracting as many shoppers as possible, each international market has its own purchasing habits that warrant unique advertising and localization strategies.
One of the easiest ways to make the international ecommerce process more manageable is by expanding intentionally. Go to your Shopify Plus analytics dashboard and take a look at where your international shoppers are from. See if you can spot any trends. Is there demand from certain countries or regions? Which products are they interested in? Armed with this information, narrow your target markets to one or two countries.
Offer Local Currency Options
Nobody likes doing extensive mathematical calculations in their head (especially when factoring in things like tax rates). Luckily, Shopify Plus (and its integrations, like Avalara AvaTax) is here to make the stress go away.
Once you’ve upgraded to Shopify Plus, you can make the shopping experience more enjoyable for international customers by following these steps to offer different currency options:
- Go to your Shopify Payments settings
- Click “Add a new country/region”
- Select your target countries
Yup, it’s literally as easy as this. With Shopify Plus, your store automatically detects where shoppers are coming from — no additional apps needed! Now, with everything set in place, international shoppers will automatically see product prices in their local currency.
Manage International Shipping
Ah, shipping — you either love it or hate it. Unfortunately, when it comes to international shipping, even the most seasoned ecommerce entrepreneur might feel a moment of dread. Here are some of our top tricks to conquer the process with no headaches:
- International shipping is typically pricier than its domestic counterpart. First, check to see if your usual shipping carriers offer international shipping to your target countries, as well as what the prices and options look like. If it’s exorbitant, don’t worry — Shopify Plus can also help you with fulfillment (at extremely competitive rates!)
- Include accurate shipping rates and speeds in the checkout process for international buyers. Again, it’s better to set expectations upfront by being transparent.
- Research to see if your target countries have extra shipping tax (e.g., with the UK, there is a slightly complicated “collect and remit” VAT requirement.) The last thing you want is for packages to be held up at customs.
- Larger, heavier, and bulkier items will be significantly more expensive to ship. Consider creating shipping profiles on Shopify Plus, so international shoppers are unable to purchase these items.
Localize Your Online Store
While offering local pricing is a great first step in providing international shoppers a targeted experience, it’s only the tip of the iceberg — for instance, if shoppers don’t speak English, how will they understand your site?
Localization needs to be a major part of your international ecommerce to-do list. But don’t worry, we’ve broken it down into these manageable steps:
- Offer international domains with language and pricing defaults. By providing different domains that target unique countries, you can customize the shopping experience even further when it comes to appropriate messaging, marketing, and even SEO. We recommend using Shopify Plus to set up subdomains.
- Translate your store. Studies have found that up to 75% of shoppers won’t even consider purchasing from a site that doesn’t offer their language — that’s huge! With that being said, if you’re familiar with your target countries’ languages and are willing to embrace the challenge of translating the content yourself, great! If not, check out these Shopify translation apps that’ll automatically translate your store into your chosen language. You can also hire a translation pro in the Shopify Experts Marketplace. Make note: Instead of translating everything at once (an overwhelming prospect!), prioritize your homepage, product pages, and other high-traffic content.
While the regular Shopify platform only supports five languages, Shopify Plus allows you to translate up to a whopping 20! That’s a ton of new markets.
Get Creative With Marketing
Now comes the big challenge: international ecommerce marketing. Sure, you can translate and deliver your ads to new markets, but it won’t be very effective. When you’ve already put in the work to localize your store for international shoppers, you don’t want to shirk on the finishing touches.
Keep these best practices in mind:
- Make sure ads are sending shoppers to the correct subdomain.
- If you’ve got a fantastic international shipping deal that’s cheap and fast, promote it in your ad creative.
- Localize copy and images. If you’re unfamiliar with your target country, consider partnering with a local Shopify expert so you don’t commit any faux pas.
- When it comes to dynamic ads, make sure that prices are shown in the correct currency.
The World Is Your Oyster
International ecommerce offers a massive opportunity to Shopify brands, but we’re not going to sugarcoat it — it’s a gigantic beast to conquer. Given the constant changes to global supply chains, shopper preferences, and ad platform best practices, ecommerce retailers need to stay quick, nimble, and creative.
Lindsay is the Sr. Partner Marketing Manager at AdRoll. She gets a kick out of helping ecommerce brands solve both their big and not-so-big marketing challenges by sharing solutions that AdRoll and partners are cooking up. Lindsay counts herself lucky to live on the beautiful Central Coast of California with her 2 kids, 2 cats, and 1 husband.