Taking your business online is no longer about just getting the ability to sell digitally. It is also about getting the opportunity to actually take your products and services, irrespective of the industry, to an audience across the world.
A few articles back, we shared a guide on how to get started with cross-border commerce if you’re on Shopify or Shopify Plus. In the guide, we covered everything from what cross-border commerce is, why you should explore it and how to set it up on your storefront.
If you missed it and want to get started with cross-border commerce, read our Shopify Cross-border commerce guide here.
Alternatively, if you know the benefits of selling internationally on your Shopify Plus store and need help setting things up, you can reach out to our Shopify Plus experts here.
But if you do have the set up ready and are looking for some tips to make the most out of selling internationally from your Shopify and Shopify Plus store, read on.
Tips for Selling Internationally on Shopify Plus
Shopify Plus features and experts like us can help you get all set to sell internationally. But there are a few things that you need to keep in mind as a business owner or brand marketer to make all the effort worthwhile!
Here are the tips we gathered from the brands we worked with to set up cross-border commerce and are in-house Shopify Plus experts.
1. Set up a storefront for your most popular language and currency variations
Based on where you’re trying to sell, identify the commonly used language and currency. To make it easier for your potential buyers to understand the products you offer, set up the storefront in the language they speak. This avoids the whole hassle of either misunderstanding the information you have added or having to translate it to get to know what you offer better; improving the customer’s shopping experience.
Similarly, having to continually use a currency converter can be tiring. Switching between tabs just to check the cart total in a local currency, can drive the potential customer away. So make sure your storefront displays everything in the local currency. Alternatively, simply add a currency switcher to your store.
But before making use of this tip, we recommend that you do this only for the areas or locations where you see a common language like English is not spoken; and yet, you have a bigger target market there.
To manage multiple storefronts, you can set up geo-location tagging. This will help the website detect where a shopper is from and present them the storefront as per that area for a more localised shopping experience.
2. Leverage international SEO to reach the right audience in cross-border markets
Irrespective of which market you’re expanding to, you need to ensure your brand is visible on the search engines and is driving organic traffic to your storefront. This is where international SEO comes in.
International SEO is defined as the sum of activities that are aimed at improving a website’s organic visibility in more than one country or language. This typically includes technical SEO changes to indicate language and country targeting preferences, localisation of content and multilingual link building.
Here’s a quick checklist to ensure you’re investing in the right direction when it comes to international SEO:
a). Structure your Shopify Plus store URLs to indicate the location it is meant for so that the search engine crawlers can interpret them correctly.
b). Language target your Shopify store pages using language meta tags; these little lines of code indicate what language your content is available in to the search crawlers. At this stage, you need to ensure that if you’re localising your content, everything needs to be worked on to ensure a consistent experience - right from your Shopify store policies to more!
c). Tailor your content to your target user's language and culture. When you use the local language (words and phrases commonly used), currency and timezone, along with a localised phone number to reach you and more, you let the search engines know who you’re targeting. You can also experiment with using different design styles and colors for different locations based on their cultures.
d). Link out to local content so that your potential buyers know that you’re aware of what’s happening in that location and the target market.
e). Focus on building links or backlinks from local resources like digital press, bloggers, affiliates, directories and more. The idea is to be visible where your audience may be going to seek more information.
If you’re new to international SEO, here is an extensive guide by Moz that you can use to get a complete understanding of it: International SEO guide.
3. Ensure you’re up-to-date with laws and regulatory requirements
When you’re starting to sell internationally on your Shopify Plus store, you need to remember that new locations come with their own set rules, regulations and laws for how businesses operate in their area.
From consumer data privacy to product-specific regulations, things may vary from place to place. For example, selling hemp products in certain countries still requires a certificate of clearance from the government before you even offer them to the customers.
If you’re not sure of the local laws, we do recommend reaching out to a local legal advisor who can help you get all the paperwork in place.
4. Prepare yourself to create international invoices
Similar to the laws and regulations, another document that may require looking into as you start to sell internationally on your Shopify Plus store, are your invoices.
Based on who you’re selling to, where you’re selling and the purpose of the sale, you may have to include/ exclude information in an invoice. Since these are documents that your customers may want to use for tax return filing and expense management, you need to look into their localisation - even in terms of the language and currency.
In this case, having an app like Sufio or Invoice Falcon can help you automate international invoices. The Shopify invoicing apps come with law-abiding templates created based on the most recent updates and regulations.
5. Optimize your checkout process for the specific location
Shopify Plus gives you the ability to optimize and customize your checkout process like no other. In fact, we wrote a complete guide on how to use Shopify Scripts to optimize your checkout on Shopify Plus. You can read it here.
But apart from optimizations around the length of the process, speed of your checkout pages and more, there are other things you need to look into when selling internationally on Shopify Plus.
This includes checkout currency, the payment modes you offer, the address line fields (they are not standardized across the world) and looking into the different types of payment preferences consumers have in that location (for example, part payments or pay later modes).
6. Take the sales tax into account
Most countries insist on collecting sales tax from brands who have a ‘presence’ in their location. If you’re selling internationally, you need to take into account the sales tax that you may have to pay in each state.
At this stage, we recommend reaching out to a tax consultant who can educate you about the sales tax thresholds, how to file them or helps you with it all.
7. Ensure your customer support team is ready
With every little aspect of selling changing for you, you also need to take into account the changes your customers will see. There are going to be times when they need clarification on certain policies, costs and other aspects that you may add to your localised storefront.
Having a customer support team that can converse in the local language can be a blessing. This makes your store visitors feel more confident about your brand during the interaction and even after they have made the purchase.
8. Keep your return and exchange policies crystal clear
You could be selling internationally without actually having a warehouse or local inventory in place. In that case, returns and exchanges will look different for your products for some customers. Make sure the policies are not ambiguous.
Find a returns partner in the location; preferably someone who works with international carriers that are available across the countries you’re wanting to sell in. Also take a look at the preferred returns methods in these countries; to ensure you’re keeping up with customer expectations.
If you’re selling internationally on Shopify Plus, you have the option to set up a self service returns portal that can be embedded in the store. You can also make use of a third-party returns partner to handle it all for you.
But make sure you do have your return and exchange slips documented and included in every shipment.
9. Learn from your new customers by asking for feedback
When you enter a new market, make sure you’re frequently asking for feedback. These are new customers; treat them as a new terrain. You may not be aware of the expectations they keep from the brands they purchase from or what they expect from an international brand when interacting with them.
Seek out customer feedback after a product has been delivered. Right from their on-site experience, checkout, delivery to returns or any kind of communication, ask as many clear questions as possible to get to know them better.
You can even incentivise feedback to motivate your customers to share more about their preferences.
10. Localise your marketing and advertising efforts
It’s not just your Shopify Plus storefront that needs to be ready for selling internationally. You need to also tailor your communication.
Right from how you attract shoppers to your website to how you communicate with them post-purchase, make sure you have localised it all.
You may want to take into account local seasons, trends, language and culture to make your brand more enticing, and emotionally appealing to the buyers. Including little signals like location flags in your ad copy emojis too can have a big impact on how they perceive your brand.
Ready to sell internationally on your Shopify Plus store?
Shopify Plus offers an array of powerful features to online stores. Right from multi-lingual support to localised domains and more, it helps you set it all up in no time.
But we do know that looking into all its features may get overwhelming for you. This is where we have been helping Shopify Plus brands with the cross-border commerce set up. Our Shopify experts focus on understanding your business goals and creating a clear roadmap with a plan of action on your market expansion.
Be it launching your Shopify Plus store in a new location or opening it for multiple locations across the globe, we help you get ready for the boom!
Need help? Reach out to our Shopify Plus experts today.