How to sell online internationally with Shopify

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How to sell online internationally with Shopify
In this article

The reasons to expand your business internationally are numerous.

You can grow your customer base, take advantage of favourable foreign market conditions, increase your revenue and more.

But making the leap from domestic to international sales can seem daunting. If you’re wondering how to sell online internationally, Shopify is a great place to start.

Let’s take a look at why Shopify lends itself to global eCommerce and how to sell on Shopify overseas.

Why sell internationally with Shopify?

Shopify provides a number of features that make it easy to sell globally. 

Note: Not all Shopify plans offer the same features. Be sure to check out and compare their various plans before making a purchase.

Simple currency conversions

According to Shopify-collected data, adjusting product prices to international customers’ local currencies increases conversion rates by up to 40%. This comes as no surprise: Customers want to know how much they’ll end up paying in their own currency — without going through the trouble of converting prices themselves.

🛒Top tip: Plug Airwallex into your Shopify checkout and accept multi-currency payments without unnecessary fees. Collect international customer payments directly into your Airwallex Global Account without being forced to convert funds to your home currency. Then pay out to international suppliers using Borderless Cards and Transfers.

Translation

You probably know from personal experience that reading product descriptions in a foreign language doesn’t make for the best customer experience.

The numbers back this up: 40% of global consumers won’t buy products that are marketed in a foreign language, according to a Common Sense Advisory research series. And 65% prefer content in their native language.

The bottom line is clear — if you don’t provide translations, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

International domains

Shopify helps you go even further in your localisation efforts with international domains. 

International domains not only make it easier to localise currencies and languages but also enable you to improve your search engine optimisation (SEO) by geotargeting. For those of you who aren’t SEO experts, that means delivering different content to visitors from different locations.

Furthermore, you have the option to choose either a country domain or a subdomain, which makes targeting a specific country or market even easier. 

Local payment methods

One of the most effective ways to earn potential customers’ trust and facilitate purchases is to offer their preferred payment methods. 

After all, if they don’t have — or it’s inconvenient to use — the required payment method, you’ve likely lost a sale. On the other hand, offering preferred payment methods can increase your conversions when you sell products abroad.

🛒Top tip: The Airwallex Shopify integration allows you to offer multiple local payment methods on your website. Including Alipay, WeChat Pay, Klarna, Union Pay and more. Increase global sales by allowing your customers to pay you the way they want, wherever they are. 

Taxes and fees

Concerns about additional taxes or fees are one of the biggest obstacles for buyers looking to purchase from a foreign site. 

Buyers want and need to know whether the total on the checkout page is the amount that the shop will charge their card. And confusion surrounding this can cause everything from lost sales to chargebacks.

Shopify international sites collect duty and import taxes directly at checkout. Customers will enjoy complete clarity into their total cost, and you can be sure that your shop complies with local requirements.

[Related: What are my legal considerations before expanding overseas?]

Customisable market configurations and smart settings

Worried about managing your site after you expand? Shopify simplifies the process by letting you manage all your settings across markets from a single place.

At the same time, Shopify provides data and insights from past customer behaviour to help you make informed decisions. Review your business’s current performance in your selected markets and optimise to improve your international success.

Custom market-specific pricing controls

Profit margins can be difficult to measure when you sell products abroad in multiple markets. After all, factors such as duties, taxes and shipping vary from one country to the next.

As a result, you’ll likely need to develop different pricing strategies for different markets.

Shopify makes this easy with custom international pricing controls. Make percentage-based adjustments by market, or product-specific changes — whatever makes the most sense to increase your margins.

🛒Top tip: Manage all your funds in one place with an Airwallex Global Account. Open 11 foreign currency accounts in a click and collect customer payments from around the world into a single multi-currency wallet.

Market-specific inventory and fulfilment 

If you plan on selling in various markets, chances are you’ll have to store inventory in multiple locations. 

Luckily, Shopify’s Markets feature makes it easy to display only the inventory that you can ship to the country that the customer is located in. 

For instance, imagine you have a UK location that ships across Europe and a US location that ships within North America. Your European visitors will see only the inventory available at your UK location.

This may sound overly simple, but it can go a long way towards preventing logistics complications.

[Related: The definitive eCommerce international expansion guide]

How much does it cost to sell internationally with Shopify?

Shopify charges a set monthly fee in addition to credit card and transaction fees. These costs depend on the plan you choose.

Sources: Basic, Shopify and Advanced Plans; Shopify Plus Plan; Currency Conversion Fees

You can sell internationally with any of these plans. All provide features like international market management, country-specific domains, language translation, currency conversion and local payment methods.

However, certain plans are better geared towards international selling. 

For example, with the Shopify plan and above, you can set custom rounding rules for your prices per market — such as having all your UK prices end in £0.99 and all your EUR prices end in €0.90.

The Advanced plan offers even more benefits, such as market-specific pricing and duty and import tax collection, which give customers greater clarity into their total cost.

Also keep in mind that you’ll enjoy lower credit card rates and external transaction fees with each plan upgrade.

[Related: The best payment gateways for international eCommerce]

How to reduce international Shopify fees

Now that you know how much selling international products on Shopify might cost you, let’s look at how you can reduce your fees.

You can’t exactly get around the costs associated with your Shopify plan, credit card rates or transaction fees, but conversion fees are a different story. Shopify itself best explains how these fees work:

When you accept payment in a currency that is different from your payout currency, then a currency conversion occurs. The amount that you receive in your customer's local currency (also referred to as the presentment currency) is converted to your payout currency, and you’re charged a currency conversion fee.

To avoid conversion fees on Shopify international payments, you need to avoid having to convert your funds in the first place. You have two options to do this.

One option is to set up a local bank account in each country you plan to sell in.

For example, imagine you’re a UK business that wants to sell in France. You open a local euro bank account and connect it to your Shopify account. Now, whenever you make sales in France, you send the revenue directly to your new euro bank account — effectively avoiding conversion fees.

The downside of this option is that banks also charge high conversion fees (up to 3.5%) as well as transfer fees. So, although you may postpone additional charges, you’ll eventually have to pay them when you’re ready to transfer funds back to the UK. Banks also charge monthly account fees, so any money you save could end up being cancelled out by excess bank charges.

Luckily, you have another option: to open a Global Business Account with Airwallex.

Airwallex Global Business Accounts enable you to collect Shopify international payments in multiple currencies — including pound sterling, euros, USD and more — from your Shopify account into a single multi-currency account. No forced currency conversions or transfer fees apply.

You can hold funds in your multi-currency account for as long as you want, and use them to pay international suppliers, VAT bills and SaaS subscriptions, all whilst avoiding FX fees.  

If you do want to convert funds into your local currency, we charge only 0.5–1% above the interbank exchange rate. That’s significantly lower than Shopify, which charges 2% outside the US, and the high street banks, which charge 2–3.5% above the interbank rate.

As a result, your business could save thousands, depending on your sales volume. And you can do all this without dealing with multiple foreign banks or a complicated payment instructure. Instead, manage your money from a single central account.

For more information, compare Airwallex against other business accounts here or sign up for a free account.

[Related: How to transfer money to an international bank account]

How to identify new markets

Once you decide you want to sell internationally, you have to decide where.

Remember that you want to provide a shopping experience that’s tailored to each specific market, so selling anywhere and everywhere would be a massive undertaking. Furthermore, your product offerings are likely more attractive to certain markets.

To narrow your options, start by visiting Shopify’s analytics section to check out your “sessions by location” acquisitions report. This report shows you which countries your visitors are from.

Do you already have some visitors — or even sales — from a specific country? That’s a great indication of demand for your products from that international market. You should take a closer look at it.

Don’t worry if you don’t yet have any international visitors — that doesn’t mean selling internationally isn’t viable. Instead, look for markets that seem like they could have strong demand for your products. Explore markets in countries with these attributes: 

  • Share the same language as you

  • Are close to you in proximity 

  • Have cultural similarities

  • Show similar purchasing habits

With these tips in mind, settle on one to two new markets to expand to.

How to fulfil your products abroad

Selling international products involves more than just setting up your website to target a new market. Before making sales, you must be prepared to deliver products to international customers. 

Fulfiling your products involves three main steps:

  • Importing. Shipping individual products to foreign customers from your original warehouse probably doesn’t make sense if you’re working with a considerable volume. Instead, import products directly to your new market areas to reduce shipping costs and times. Just be sure you have the paperwork needed to get your products past customs. 

  • Storing. Be sure to shop around for a reliable (and cost-effective) warehouse or storage unit to hold your inventory. And remember that Shopify offers market-specific fulfilment controlsthat let you source products from select inventory locations for select markets.

  • Shipping. The question isn’t so much, “Does Shopify ship internationally?” — it’s more a question of how! Shopify Shipping makes it easy to deliver orders by letting you purchase international shipping labels directly from your account and automatically generating the correct customs forms for you. Shopify also partners with local carriers in your area (DPD and Evri in the UK) to facilitate delivery.

[Related: The ultimate guide to paying overseas suppliers]

Avoid sneaky fees and increase your margins with Airwallex

How to improve your global sales on Shopify

So, you know how to sell products on Shopify, and you’re ready to get started. How do you ensure your efforts succeed?

Localise, localise, localise

If you’ve made it this far, you already know why localisation is essential to your international expansion and how Shopify facilitates the process. But let’s look again at the most important steps:

  • Translate your content. Customers strongly prefer to purchase products in their native language. Ensure all text (from your product descriptions to your landing pages) is translated to create an ideal customer experience.

  • List local currencies. Don’t make customers do conversions themselves — update product prices to reflect their local currency, and collect multi-currency payments directly into your Airwallex Global Account using our seamless Shopify integration. 

  • Offer local payment methods. Simplify the checkout process for customers and increase conversions by offering local payment methods. Airwallex makes this easy: With our Shopify integration, you can offer multiple local payment methods at your checkout, including WeChat, Alipay and Skrill.

  • Create international domains. Take your localisation even further with international domains to target certain markets.

Be aware of local holidays

Sales typically spike during specific shopping periods throughout the year, but don’t assume those periods will be the same in your new markets.

For example, Black Friday and Christmas dominate in the West, but sales peak on Single’s Day across Asia.

Failing to note these shopping habit differences can cause inventory shortages or overages — not to mention missed opportunities. Use our global eCommerce calendar to make sure your business doesn’t miss out.

Advertise

A strategic marketing plan is essential to ensure all your website localisation efforts don’t go to waste. What’s the point of having a targeted website if no one sees it?

And just like with choosing new target markets, remember that one size doesn’t fit all with marketing. Develop market-specific advertising campaigns that target buyers in that area and direct them to the appropriate version of your website. 

Take your eCommerce business global with Shopify and Airwallex

If you’re ready to sell globally and want to simplify your expansion, Shopify may be the way to go. Take advantage of Shopify’s many features geared towards international selling to quickly expand your base.

And to further simplify the finance side, Airwallex is ready to help you collect payments in local currencies, localise your checkout, and cut down fees. 

Sign up to Airwallex free today to start streamlining your global finances and improving your profit margins.

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