This past year has brought the future forward, and global ecommerce is exploding. By 2027, the global cross-border B2C e-commerce market is predicted to reach $4 billion USD. In fact, in India itself, exports for cross-border ecommerce in 2020 crossed $1 billion USD.
But does your brand have an opportunity for cross-border selling and is your store set up for global sales?
Well, we’re here to tell you that if you run a Shopify store, it doesn't take long to take your store from local to global. In this guide we'll break down exactly how you can do that.
In this guide learn how to:
Identify international target markets
Be intentional about where you expand. A “sell to everyone, everywhere” strategy might seem like a good idea to attract as many buyers as possible, but different markets around the globe are nuanced with unique browsing and purchasing habits. Employing a catch-all approach is a sure-fire way to dilute your efforts and stop your international expansion in its tracks before you even start.
Begin by looking at your sessions by location report in Shopify’s analytics section. If you already have international visitors from various countries, pick two or three to investigate further. If you already have some sales from those countries, even better — we’re looking for indicators of demand for your products from international buyers. Ultimately, you're going to use these indicators to identify one or two markets that you can start selling to.
If you don’t have any international visitors or sales yet, don’t worry. You’ll still want to pick one or two markets that you identify as having good potential for demand. Markets that are close to you in proximity or share the same native language or similar purchasing habits are good options for your first global expansion. For example, if you’re in India, selling your products in Dubai could be a lucrative first option.
Create a localized experience
Now that you have identified which markets you want to target, the next step is to localize the experience for the customers in these markets. While there are many nuances to localizing your website, there are a few things that you absolutely must ensure are in place. These include:
Displaying prices in the local currency: Did you know that 92% of customers prefer to shop and make purchases on sites that price in their local currency? So you need to ensure that prices on your website are displayed in their local currency. This can be done through currency conversion.
Displaying content in the local languages: Content plays a huge role in helping your customers understand your product, helping close that sale for you. Hence, if you’re targeting markets that speak languages other than English, you are going to want to translate the content.
Displaying the right details to the right customer: Once you have your content and pricing localized, you also need to ensure that your customer is seeing the right content and pricing based on their location.
If you have a Shopify store, you can do this easily with the help of apps. You can choose an app based on your needs. For example, you can use the Auto Currency Switcher or explore other multi-currency apps, which will work well to display pricing based on the location of your customer. Apps like Transcy also offer you options to show content in local languages, along with local currency. You can also explore other translation apps.
Creating localized experiences for international buyers increases the likelihood that they will buy from you — so prioritize installing the Geolocation pop-up before any promotional messaging or other pop-ups that you may have. For enhanced results, we recommend using a pop-up modal in the center of the screen, which yields the highest rate of acceptance from buyers.
Pro Tip: While localizing the experience from your customer’s point of view, remember that you also need to consider things from a selling perspective. For example, do your products for overseas markets have differential pricing and not just a direct FX conversion? In this case, it may make sense to upload duplicates of your product with adjusted prices. Then you can use an app like Advanced Store Localization or similar geolocation apps to show specific sets of localized products to a customer based on their location. You can also read about how to do this by adjusting your shipping profiles.
Get the set up to accept international payments
One of the most crucial elements that sets apart a regular website from an ecommerce store is the capability to accept payments. Hence, any attempt to go cross-border will require you to configure your store to accept international payments.
Payment gateways such as RazorPay offer international payments to merchants on request, after meeting certain criteria. But it is recommended that you configure high-trust or locally recognized payment gateway providers such as PayPal for better conversion.
Offer international shipping
One of the most important parts of the buying experience is how your buyers will get their products.
Shipping internationally is likely going to be more expensive, so consider the following tactics to remove as much friction as possible for your new buyers:
- Check prices and options with your chosen shipping carrier. You’ll want to make sure your carrier of choice ships to your chosen market(s), and you’ll want transparency on what those prices are. If you’re using carrier-calculated shipping, simulate the buyer experience by testing an international checkout yourself.
- Buyers appreciate transparency, and when you live up to your shipping promises instead of hiding longer delivery times, you’ll build trust and gain customers for life. Provide shipping speeds in your product descriptions so buyers know exactly what to expect.
- Consider adjusting your product prices for the target market to offset offering cheaper shipping options. Would you be more likely to buy a $70 item with $30 shipping, or a $100 item with free shipping?
- Research countries or regions that have tax obligations when shipping to them, and make sure you accommodate for these. For example, if you are shipping to the United Kingdom, you must collect and remit VAT to the UK government on any packages you send that are valued under £135.
Marketing and advertising
You’ve done a lot of work to localize your online store for international visitors; make sure you capitalize on all of these efforts by localizing your marketing as well. Advertising is an effective way to generate traffic from your international target market and drive demand while testing out your local experience at the same time.
Removing as much friction as possible for new buyers is especially important, particularly for those coming to your site from a new country or region for the first time. Hence, whichever channels you plan to advertise on, it’s important to create region-specific campaigns that target your international buyers specifically. For example, in the Facebook Ads Manager, split your ads that target new buyers into different campaigns. Localize the copy, imagery, and ensure the destination URLs reflect the international domains that you have set up for each market.
Facebook is just one of many examples to consider here. Ensure that you're investing the time to localize your advertising in each of the online channels that you plan to target buyers.
If you use dynamic retargeting with the likes of Facebook, Google, or Pinterest, ensure these campaigns are also localized to your buyers’ preferences by displaying their local prices, and language, if applicable. To do this, you need to create a product feed from Shopify that supports multiple currencies and languages to display both the same pricing and copy of your online store. We recommend investigating either DataFeed Watch, or Multiple Google Shopping feeds for a dedicated solution for Google.
To sum it up
We would never lie to you: global expansion is not without its pain points. Global e-commerce is complex and nuanced, constantly changing at a rapid pace and forcing us all to evolve and adapt as fast as we can.
But for every growing pain, there is literally a whole world of opportunity: there are about 4.66 billion internet users on this planet and creating personalised, frictionless experiences gets them closer to you. It’s why we build the things we build, and why you should use them. Because together, we want to make commerce better for everyone.