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How to sell internationally on Shopify

Learn how best to sell internationally on Shopify and how to do handle setting up payments, handling taxes and duties and multi-currency sites.

Shopify is one of the most popular e-commerce platforms for growing businesses. Therefore, it is little wonder that more merchants are looking to sell internationally using it. By opening your store up to a global market, you have the potential to welcome a host of new customers.   

According to 2021 research by Shopify, 35% of all its traffic comes from international visitors, with 92% of those visitors wanting to browse and buy in their own currency and prices. If you are prepared to put in some work to target an international audience, you might reap huge rewards. 📈

Our guide to selling internationally on Shopify 

Identify international markets to sell to on Shopify 

Ask yourself which geographic markets are the best ones to target for your business. If you’re an ambitious store owner whose strategy is to reach ‘everyone’, you might be keen to open your store up to the whole world. While we admire your ambition, it’s worth taking a moment to think more strategically! Different markets have very different buying habits, so a good place to start is with your own analytics. Does it show your current store is receiving international visitors? If so, those markets are the best places to try and break. If you don’t yet have any international visitors to your site, consider opting for countries that speak the same language as you. 

Setting up multiple currency and international payments on Shopify 

So, you’ve picked your global target market(s), what next? Set up your store to allow customers to pay for your products in their own local currency. With Shopify Payments, you can offer multi-currency on Shopify. By selling in a local currency, visitors are more likely to convert and complete a sale. Once you have changed your Shopify Payment settings to include the new counties, buyers from these areas will be able to view prices in their local currency. Shopify Payments allows you to change the price of your products per currency. 

Review international taxes and duties on Shopify

Taxes vary from country to country and state to state in the USA, so if you are intending to sell internationally on Shopify, this is something to remember. Inaccurate tax calculations can result in delays in shipping, fines and penalties from regulatory authorities, plus reduced profit margins, so it's important to get it right. Thankfully, Shopify takes the international variables into account by including or excluding necessary taxes in product pricing automatically depending on where the customer is in the world, which makes life a lot easier for merchants. 

Sales tax

Note: The US adds sales tax at checkout, whereas most other countries price in sales tax (for example, VAT). This means that you will need to add your prices either inclusive or exclusive of sales tax. Athlete, the Etsy order sync app, handles tax on all orders put through its system so you can process them efficiently.

Shipping internationally on Shopify 

Shipping zones are required in Shopify to send products worldwide. Make sure you do your research on what is required when shipping to different regions and look at what categories your products fall under – some countries have very different rules about what products are allowed to be shipped. You should also keep in mind that as your products are going to be travelling long distances, your packaging will need to stand up to the journey. 

Create shipping zones specific for your new target markets in the Shipping settings on Shopify. You should take into account the size and weight of your products as this can affect shipping prices significantly depending on the destination. 

Translating languages on Shopify 

According to Shopify, "almost 80% of international buyers strongly prefer to browse an e-commerce store in their native language, making a translated store a powerful tool to increase international sales."

Thanks to one of Shopify’s many fantastic merchant-led tools, multiple languages can be dynamically set for an individual store so that customers from all over the world can be catered for without the need for creating a separate store for each region. 

Local customer support 

Once you begin to attract international customers, you might receive international customer support requests. Although Google Translate exists, for a better customer service experience, you may need to employ native speakers from different countries to handle requests.

Data protection

In the EU, there’s GDPR and in the US there are a number of different data protection laws. If you are looking to sell internationally on Shopify, we would always recommend that you follow best practices and even consult with a lawyer to ensure that you follow the correct, local laws in the countries that you are intending to sell in.

Selling on Shopify? You might also be interested in… 

Shopify SEO guide

Shopify payments guide: How they work and how to set them up

Athlete loads your Etsy orders to your Shopify store, so you can manage them in one place.