International Ecommerce Strategy: New Tools to Simplify Global Growth for High-Volume Businesses

International Ecommerce Strategy
This article was updated on Feb. 22, 2019 to reflect the most recent global ecommerce features on Shopify Plus

Expanding your brand across the world is one of the biggest opportunities you’ve likely ever faced. While the potential for accelerated growth and lucrative financial rewards are exponential, scaling globally is also fraught with complexity that can result in costly missteps that stunt growth and can cause you to second guess your global growth strategy.

Going global is the key to growth for high volume merchants. But expansion exposes you to many complexities in operations and technology. Simple platform solutions are hard to come by.

That was the message delivered at Unite 2018, Shopify’s third annual partner and developer conference.

While international ecommerce is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity, it’s one you’ll only be able to successfully tap with a platform that has a global-first mindset.

Retail ecommerce sales worldwide

Cumulative data compiled from The Global Ecommerce Playbook

We’re aggressively working to simplify international ecommerce for merchants who are expanding their businesses.

Global Growing Pains

Whether you’re simply dipping your toes into international markets similar to your native market or those you perceive as safe, narrowly targeting new markets by experimenting with country-specific strategies and campaigns, or have a significant global footprint that is centrally managed and requires local currencies, products, and payment methods …

Your vision of scaling globally can result in reliance on third-party solutions that offer a less than ideal customer experience:

  • International customers faced with higher shipping rates from merchants who ship globally but from just one location are more likely to abandon their carts and cost you sales
  • Currency conversion apps that assist in localizing international customer experiences but can at times surprise customers with extra charges and negatively impact loyalty and retention
  • Third party multi-language apps that help you better connect with international customers but can negatively impact page performance and often do not allow you to customize the checkout experience with branding or automated discounts

Fortunately, another message emerged at Unite 2018: going global has never been easier with Shopify Plus.

Making International Ecommerce Easier

At Unite 2018, we announced new products that not only make it easier for you to transact around the world but also to offer international customers the hyper-local buying experience they’ve come to expect.

We’re proud to be giving you the power to create local experiences that scale from a one-store solution to a host of expansion stores.

On the Unite 2018 stage and in front of hundreds of partners, David Cameron, Global Product Manager at Shopify Plus, delivered an inspiring checklist of goals his team is currently working to achieve on behalf of merchants with global growth initiatives:

International Ecommerce Strategy: New Tools To Simplify Global Growth For High-Volume Businesses

“Our goal is to build products to expand your reach as a merchant. We want to make it easier for you to target and sell everywhere your buyers are. We want to help you cut out some of your overhead so you can have centralized operations that work for you.

“We want to create an integrated experience across our platform so you can grow securely and confidently. We want to do all these things while giving you the flexibility to choose your path to global expansion.”

With that, we’re excited to announce two new international ecommerce tools you’ll soon be able to use to grow your business globally by providing customers with the preferred currency and payment method they deserve and expect:

Multi-Currency for Shopify Payments

With Multi-currency for Shopify Payments, you’ll soon be able to grow globally by acting locally. Importantly, the new multi-currency capabilities allow merchants to start with a global mindset by easily selling in local currencies and settling in their preferred currency.

Shopify Payments Multi-Currency

In addition to managing it all in one place, Shopify’s multi-currency positions you to offer customer-friendly international storefronts and checkout experiences.

Powered by Shopify Payments, multi-currency positions brands to improve their performance internationally in three ways:

1. Experiment with Growth

It’s now easier and faster than ever to expand your reach and develop a global-first mindset with a multi-currency offering. Multi-currency offers the flexibility you need to make decisions — and quickly change them — on a country-by-country basis and as the dynamics of specific international markets change.

You can go live in new international markets in just minutes with multi-currency and select only the currencies you wish to sell in.

Change your mind or see a new opportunity? No problem. Shopify’s multi-currency allows you to easily add or remove currencies based on market changes. Click the below image to watch a brief tutorial or visit the Help Center’s Multi-currency documentation.

Shopify Payments multi-currency YouTube tutorial

2. Localize Experiences

When in Rome … act like a Roman, right? You can offer customers across the world a more custom experience regardless of where your brand is headquartered.

Shopify’s multi-currency has powerful built-in geolocation functionality that allows you to show customers local currency prices based on current foreign exchange rates that are rounded for stability.

3. Integrated Solution

Today, offering customers a robust multi-currency experience is not a luxury but rather a necessity. This reality becomes starkly clear when you consider the following data:

  • 92% of shoppers prefer to make purchases in their local currency
  • 33% are likely to abandon a purchase if pricing is in USD only

Multi-currency has launched for with businesses on Shopify Plus that are using Shopify Payments and supports the following currencies: AUD, EUR, JPY, SGD, USD, CAD, HKD, NZD, and GBP. From product creation to payout reconciliation, you’ll now see the proper currency presented across Shopify so you don’t need to worry about reporting inconsistencies or inaccuracies.

Local Payment Methods for Shopify Payments

Successfully scaling globally means checking what you think you know and constantly reminding yourself that what works in one country may not work in another.

There are hundreds, even thousands, of local payment methods across the globe. Each one is tailored to a specific audience, with a specific purpose in mind. While credit cards are wildly popular in North America, they’re not used nearly as much by online shoppers elsewhere. This leaves a lot on the table.

Payment preferences around the world

Data via Nielsen

To scale internationally you must offer your customers the payment methods they prefer. It’s why we’re excited to announce that this year, we’re bringing local payment methods to Shopify Payments. And we’ve started with some of the most popular online payment methods in Europe, like Sofort payments, and Klarna Pay Later in Germany.

When you activate local methods through Shopify Payments, you can increase global sales by allowing your customers to pay in a way they are accustomed to and trust. We’ll continue to launch more local payment methods in additional international markets over time, ultimately, to help you meet and serve your customers wherever they are:

  • Initially, you’ll be able to offer some of the most popular local payment methods in Western Europe with more to come as we expand to additional international markets
  • Automatically surface the best payment method based on a customer’s location
  • Increase international conversion rates and easily turn specific payment methods on or off based on strategy or market changes

Your Global Future

With multi-currency and local payment methods, we’ve made it easier to scale internationally. However, as excited as we are to announce these resources, we know there’s a lot of work left to do to further simplify your global growth initiatives.

“There is no silver bullet solution for making going global easy,” says David Cameron, Global Product Manager at Shopify Plus. “There is a lot of work to be done to simplify the process of going global while still allowing you the flexibility you need to run your business. We’re going to continue investing in the capabilities the platform needs to help you grow globally.”

Today’s announcements are just the latest steps we’ve taken to help you achieve your international ecommerce objectives. We’re already building on what we’ve announced at Unite 2018 and have identified new challenges to address.

To open new international markets faster, we’re working on multi-language solutions for your admin and storefronts so you and your customers can experience Shopify Plus in your native languages.

Native languages make or break global sales

For more on international opportunities, access The Global Ecommerce Playbook

Native language capabilities are available to merchants operating in German, Japanese, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Italian with plans to include more languages in future.

We’re also working on product information solutions with the goal of helping you grow faster regardless of the stage of global expansion you currently find yourself.

Longer term, we’ll continue to make our single store solution even smarter while simultaneously making it simpler to manage multiple expansion stores. We’re growing globally just like you. Together we’ll do it faster.

About the author

Christina Lord

Christina Lord is a Product Marketing Manager who helps bring Shopify Plus global products to market. With an MA in global studies and previous careers in sales and international customer success, she offers an informed perspective on global commerce trends and product market fit.