The Future of Commerce is Global: Why and How to Take Your Business International with Shopify


Five years ago, the idea of winning international clients was just a dream for many—going international was reserved for the Fortune 500. But things are changing, and your pool of potential clients is more international than ever before.

Today, 70 percent of ecommerce transactions occur outside of North America. Additionally, seven of the ten largest ecommerce markets in the world are in non-English-speaking countries.

And with a growing number of merchants around the world choosing Shopify, this presents a huge opportunity for you to grow your business internationally and support merchants outside of your primary market.

At Shopify, we want to make it easier for you to reach new markets by removing the barriers to going international. So we're giving you the tools to make that dream a practical reality.

Read on to find out why you should take your business international, the incentives offered by Shopify for doing so, and the tools and tips you need to succeed on a global scale. 

The international opportunity

It’s no secret that commerce is global, and growing rapidly every year.

partners-go-global-retail-sales-statsAt Shopify, we have merchants in 175 countries. As a Shopify Partner, this means there’s a chance for you to build global partnerships, work with clients in new countries, and develop an international understanding of commerce. Before, this kind of opportunity was reserved for companies with big budgets, multiple offices worldwide, and a translation department. Today, working with international clients is all achievable with a laptop.

Where to start?

In particular, Shopify has identified France, Germany, Japan, and Singapore to be priority international markets, as these are all regions with high commerce growth and exciting opportunities. We’ve invested in the opportunities these countries present—we’ve been busy developing product features to help both partners and merchants work in these regions. Some of these features include translation, local payment methods and sales channels, shipping solutions, and legal compliance. See the tools section below for an overview of what's available.

"All these merchants need now is a Shopify Partner to help take their business to the next level."

For you as a Shopify Partner, this means that merchants you can refer or potential clients you can work with already have access to a localized Shopify experience in French, German, and Japanese (Singapore’s working language is English). The architecture for a seamless merchant experience is already in place. All these merchants need now is a Shopify Partner to help take their business to the next level.

Below, we’ll share some of the tools and opportunities available to you that will help your new market of clients succeed.

Earn more from Shopify when you work internationally

Please note that this promotion is now closed.

We understand that expanding your business globally is tough. To help make it easier, we’re offering special incentives when you work with merchants in France, Germany, Japan, or Singapore. We have two special offers for partners that will run until November 19, 2019:

  1. Affiliate link referrals: 300 percent commission bounty over 3 months (100 percent each month) for affiliates who refer new Shopify merchants in France, Germany, Japan, or Singapore. Limit of 100 referrals that are eligible for the increased commision.

  2. Development store referrals: 30 percent revenue share of a merchant’s monthly subscription fee for any development store referrals of merchants located in France, Germany, Japan, or Singapore. You’ll receive 20 percent revenue share for the merchant's first month’s subscription fee, and 30 percent revenue share for all subsequent months (even after the promotion period ends), as long as the merchant remains a paying Shopify customer, and you remain an active partner.

Read on to find out how we can grow together internationally.

Tools to help you go global

You can’t go global without the right toolkit! That’s why we’ve developed, translated, and localized our products, so they’ll deliver the same functionality across borders. These updates aren’t just for merchants though—they’re key to taking your business international.

"That’s why we’ve developed, translated, and localized our products, so they’ll deliver the same functionality across borders."

Even if your primary language is English, having a translated and localized Shopify experience gives you an opportunity to collaborate with other partners and merchants who are more comfortable working in their respective languages. Below, read the ways we’re removing language barriers to give you access to a new world of clients.

1. Locale Param: Improve the user experience for your translated apps

For app developers who have translated their apps to French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, or Italian, the Locale Param is a tool to help you deliver a more localized experience. It detects the merchant’s language setting, and if your app is available in that language, merchants will automatically be able to use it in that language upon installation. This helps onboarding international merchants to your apps much smoother.

2. Local payment integrations: Removing a checkout experience that feels foreign

In North America, paying for online purchases with a credit card is the norm—but this isn’t the case across the globe. Buyers in our international markets expect different payment options from what is offered in our core markets. To remove friction at checkout, we’ve partnered with the leading payment gateways in these countries to provide a buying experience that customers expect and want. These include:

  • France: Paybox, Bancontact via Mollie, SOFORT, MONEI, and more.
  • Germany: Shopify Payments, Mondido, Ratenkauf, SOFORT, Wirecard, Pay Later by Klarna, and more.
  • Japan: Shopify Payments, Amazon Pay, Komoju, Bitpay, and more.
  • Singapore: Shopify Payments, Alipay Global, Coinbase Commerce, Butpay, CyberSource, and more.

3. Getting products to customers: Localized shipping solutions

France, Germany, Japan, and Singapore have some of the best transportation logistics in the world, meaning it’s just as easy to ship in and out of small towns and remote areas as it is in major cities. To help you sell Shopify shipping solutions to merchants in these markets, we’ve made the following shipping methods available:

  • France: Mondial Relay, and SendCloud.
  • Germany: SendCloud, Shipcloud, and DHL.
  • Japan: Ship&Co, OpenLogi, LogiKura, CustomShip, and Japan Post
  • Singapore: Easyship.

4. Reaching customers around the world: Channels to sell on

The channels that people are accustomed to buying through vary country to country. To offer functional commerce options to merchants in specific countries, it’s important to be able to integrate with the most popular channels among buyers. That’s why we’ve made varying sales channels available in our priority countries. These include:

  • France: Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
  • Germany: Amazon, Ebay, and Facebook.
  • Japan: Facebook Shop, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.
  • Singapore: Localyyz, Facebook Shop, and Facebook Messenger.

4 ways you can start working in these countries, now

Now that you’re aware of the opportunities, rewards, and tools available to you, the next step is to put it all into action and bring your expertise as a Shopify Partner global. Whether you make affiliate referrals, development store referrals, or both, your first consideration should be how to reach potential merchants in these regions. Below are four tips to help you get started searching for international clients.

1. Create localized domains or landing pages

Purchasing a new domain name in the local language (e.g. and translating your website content can seem like a lot of work, but it’s the best way to build traction in a new country. If you struggle with the language you are targeting, do not machine translate the copy of your website. Google penalizes websites that use obvious machine translations such as Google Translate. Instead, hire someone to provide written translations of your pages.

2. Hire freelancers or local agencies to help

Local help can provide the expertise you need to find prospects, build ad campaigns, or create localized copy for translated pages. Imagine cold-calling merchants or trying to understand adwords or SEO keywords in a new language—that’s difficult for anyone who is not well versed in the language. Instead, it’s best to hire local help. This can be as simple as having someone lay the groundwork, or as long-term as forming a partnership with local agencies to collaborate with on projects. You can also hire Shopify Experts in France, Germany, Japan, and Singapore to help.

3. Network in relevant online communities

Online communities are a great way to break into a new region. For example, if you’re looking for development work on Shopify or entrepreneurs in a new region, look for Shopify-centric groups run by merchants or partners in their local language (e.g. Shopify Français). Or if you’re looking to migrate prospects to Shopify, find ecommerce groups specific to major cities or countries in these regions.

If you do join these groups, make sure to add value to conversations when joining a discussion. Read the rules of each group, and don’t drop a sales pitch as your first message. Instead, be helpful and trustworthy—it’s a great way to build connections.

4. Build a segmented email list of fresh prospects

Whether you translate your whole site, create one localized landing page, or begin a targeted ad campaign, you need to keep these new prospects somewhere. Most email marketing software comes with the ability to segment lists by IP address, country, or even domain (e.g. Filtering out new prospects by the language you captured them in allows you to be more deliberate when trying to sell that client your services.

These four tips are great starting points for building up a positive, strong reputation in new regions as you embark on your international expansion.

Growing globally as a Shopify Partner

Never before has the playing field been this equal. Going global is no longer reserved for the Fortune 500, and you have what it takes to work with an international pool of clients. With these tools, insights, and tips, you can start building partnerships, working with and referring new clients, and growing your business across borders.

Stay tuned, we’ll be releasing more country-specific resources over the course of the year. We look forward to you joining us in this huge international opportunity.


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