Sell Internationally: Shopify Tools to Help You Sell Abroad May 27, 2015 03:00

As the cost of access to technology has gone down globally, eCommerce has risen in markets around the world. According to eCommerce trends between 2009 and 2014, China had the highest growth in eCommerce revenue globally with a 16-fold increase during that period.

In a previous post, we showed different ways to make your Shopify store multilingual. We also discussed why you should sell internationally with Shopify, as it increases your customer base, makes your brand more recognizable, and can increase sales.

But having a multilingual storefront is just the start. In this post we will discuss three things to help you sell internationally:

  1. Multiple currencies
  2. Location-based pricing
  3. International shipping

Multiple currencies

Currency exchange rates – the rate at which one currency would be exchanged for another – constantly fluctuate and may change by shifts in global market events. So if your Shopify store is in U.S. Dollars, it may not be readily clear to a shopper from, say, Canada how much your product will end up costing them. By having a single currency on your store for international customers, it may create a negative customer experience if the customer calculates one exchange rate, but gets charged a slightly different one.

Sell Internationally Multilingual Shopify

Displaying multiple currencies on your Shopify storefront which automatically update based on latest exchange rates can reduce such negative customer experiences. Apps like Currency Switcher detect the location of your customer and automatically display their local currency on the storefront. Currency Switcher gets the feed of Shopify’s built in exchange rates and updates the product prices automatically. See the app in action on the demo store with the currency selector located below the Cart button.

But note that the app only displays different prices for different countries. A customer is still charged in the native currency of your store. So if the native currency of your store is U.S. Dollars, a customer from Canada will be charged in U.S. Dollars even though on the storefront, they see the price in Canadian Dollars. This can negatively affect customer experience because most customers will be charged a foreign conversion fee by their credit card providers usually between the 2% to 3% range.

Currently, Shopify does not allow customers to checkout in different currencies. To allow customers to checkout in another currency, you will have to set up a separate store with that currency selected in Settings > General > Standards & formats.

Location-based pricing

You may choose to display different prices for the same product based on the location of the customer. This can be for a number of reasons – value to customers of the product in different regions, absorbing logistical expenses into price, or to price competitively in a region.

The Multi Country Pricing app allows you to set different prices for different countries by creating product variants based on location. The app automatically detects the location of the store visitor and displays the price you have set for a product for that country.

This app also sells the product in the native currency of your store. The same comment about credit card conversion fees and exchange rates applies as discussed above. The XE credit card charges calculator can be a useful tool for store managers to figure out exchange rates and discrepancies if a customer complains about the charge made on their credit card statement.

International shipping

When selling internationally, shipping costs can create a huge dent in your margins if the optimal shipping rate is not determined from the start. If you have a preferred shipping vendor, you can manually set shipping rates in Shopify. If you don’t know the shipping costs, carrier-calculated shipping can help you determine exact shipping rates to foreign locations so that you don’t lose money on shipping and customers know up-front what they can expect for shipping charges.

Shipping Sell internationally Shopify

Photo Credit: BriYYZ, CC BY-SA 2.0

For Unlimited Shopify plan users, Shopify integrates carrier-calculated shipping rates for FedEx, UPS and USPS. For Canadian shipping, the Canada Post app provides real-time shipping rates, and ability to print shipping labels.

You can also find apps for other carriers and shipping services for carrier-calculated rates, labelling solutions and other services.

A word about tax

When you’re selling in international markets, also be careful of the different sales taxes that may apply. Shopify integrates and populates default tax rates for many international regions. You can also override the default taxes as Shopify rates may not always be up-to-date. Check out the Shopify manual about taxes that shows various settings related to taxes in the Shopify backend.

Are there other things you found challenging when selling your products internationally? Tell us in the comments below.


Cover Photo Credit: WorldIslandInfo.com ( CC BY 2.0 license)

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