International ecommerce

From Local to Global: How to Scale Your Shopify Store

From Local to Global: How to Scale Your Shopify Store
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May 13, 2024

Shopify is a popular ecommerce platform for online stores, with tools for selling, shipping, and managing products. With 4.4 billion Shopify stores worldwide, it’s easy to use and scalable, making it a great choice for businesses of all sizes. But for entrepreneurs who have found success in their homelands, taking the next step is no easy feat.

Entering into global markets is one of the biggest challenges any business can face. Although the potential rewards of widening your customer base and increasing revenue are huge, finding the right path is a major undertaking.

In this guide, you’ll discover how to sell internationally on Shopify, and reap the benefits that business expansion can bring. We’ll cover everything you need to know, from identifying the right markets, to payments, shipping, and marketing methods. You’ll also learn the wisdom of integrating Shopify with tools like Weglot, which are geared to accelerating your expansion efforts.

Identifying International Markets for Your Shopify Store

Careful planning is essential when identifying which international markets to target, and it’s worth considering the following:

  • Use data: Google Analytics and Shopify’s reports provide information about your existing users and their location. You may already have significant customer bases in other parts of the world.
  • Take a low-risk strategy: To manage risk, consider targeting locations closer to home. Initial expansions into same-language locations are easier to manage than those further afield. You’ll have fewer cultural differences and legal challenges to navigate.
  • Research trends: Market research reports like Statista can offer insights into location trends. Complement these by reading local news and industry sources to understand behavioral patterns and opportunities.
  • Legal and compliance: Every country has its own regulations, and an awareness of these should influence your market entry decisions. You’ll need to research everything from local laws and data privacy, to import and export regulations.

Setting up Multi-Currency and International Payments on Shopify

Next, choose the right payment gateways for your Shopify store. This will depend on the size of your business, and the number of countries you’re shipping to. Shopify offers two strategies for selling globally:

1. A Single Store

With options for languages, currencies, handling fees, and shipping, a single store reduces costs and timescales, while offering basic localization.

2. Separate Stores for Each International Market

Separate stores allow for deeper localization and personalization, including tailored content, pricing strategies, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for each region.

A single store will likely suffice for smaller businesses, especially if you’re expanding into foreign markets with a similar culture to your own. You’ll always have the option to set up separate stores in future, should your operation expand.

Whichever option you choose, remember to use local payment providers wherever possible. Customers are far more likely to buy using methods they trust.

Taxes and Duties on Shopify

Every country has its own tax laws, so include specific regulations in your initial research. For example, in the United States, sales tax varies by state and is added at the point of sale, not in the listed price.

By contrast, the United Kingdom includes Value Added Tax (VAT) in the price displayed to consumers. When researching international markets, work out any tax and how this will affect your product pricing.

Although Shopify provides tools to help sellers calculate and apply taxes correctly, the responsibility of charging and reporting taxes lies with the seller. You can use Shopify’s automated settings for tax calculations, but it’s worth consulting with a tax expert to ensure compliance.

Setting up International Shipping on Shopify

Making international shipping available is an important step to launching Shopify in multiple countries. Here are three ways that most retailers use to manage international shipping:

1. Shipping from home

Many retailers start small, handling every aspect of the shipping process themselves. You’ll manage the packaging and posting, or hire a courier service. It takes more time to manage this, but it’s convenient for those starting out.

The downside is that your customers will likely have to pay higher international shipping rates than they would for a big online store.

2. Dropshipping

Dropshipping is another good option for beginners, but the process is different. Your store doesn’t keep the products you sell in stock. Instead, every product sold is purchased from a third party, and shipped directly to the customer. Oberlo is one of the best-known dropshipping platforms, and it’s operated by Shopify.

Oberlo dropshipping platform

The advantage of starting a dropshipping store is that you only have to manage sales, without having to take care of logistics. With this option, international shipping isn’t an issue.

3. Fulfillment Warehouses

Fulfillment services are for more advanced stores. They use a third-party logistics company to manage inventory, order processing, packaging, and shipping for you. It’s a good option when you have too many orders to ship alone.

Given the high-volume of orders handled, fulfillment warehouses are able to negotiate postage rates, so shipping through them is usually cheaper. For further savings, choose a fulfillment warehouse within the geographical region of your primary client base, or bases.

For an in-depth view of this issue, take a look at Shopify’s guide to shipping and fulfillment.

Configuring your International Shopify Domain

You’ll also need to consider the domain structure of your site. The right option will depend on your number of selling destinations, along with how much content localization is required.


These are separate websites for each geographical location that you operate in. If you’re selling on Shopify in multiple countries, subdomains allow you to personalize content for different target audiences. On the downside, the SEO value of your core site won’t apply to your subdomains.

For subdomains, you’ll need to create a unique URL for that country. You can use a Shopify-managed or third party hosting provider. If using a third party, you can configure your international domain with Shopify by logging into the admin panel of your core site:

  1. Find Settings > Domains.
  2. Select Connect existing domain, enter the URL, and click Next.
  3. Choose Connect automatically and sign into the hosted domain’s account.
  4. Grant permissions to Shopify to enable configuration.

It can take up to 48 hours for Shopify to verify a third party domain. Once verified, it will be listed on your Domains page.


Subfolders – or subdirectories – are simply a folder attached to your existing website. If your core content is likely to be useful and relevant to customers in multiple locations, subfolders may be sufficient. On the downside, you’ll be less able to personalize content for different audiences.

International SEO

Learning how to sell internationally on Shopify also means learning international SEO – a vital consideration when setting up a foreign web domain. Non-optimized sites are less likely to be indexed by search engines, making it harder for local users to find you.

Conduct international keyword research for your Shopify store in order to match the search intent of local users through your content. Implementing hreflang tags is another important step. These ensure local users are served the version of your site that matches the language found in their location. Optimizing page title tags and meta descriptions can encourage click-throughs on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), increasing user traffic.

Title tag and meta description example

Translating Your Shopify Store

If entering into foreign language markets, you’ll need to translate your store. Shopify allows you to use apps such as Weglot for fast and efficient translation.

Weglot’s automated translation feature allows you to translate your website in a single click, greatly reducing timescales. And a continuous translation feature updates your foreign language text every time your core site is updated.

In order to refine your translations, words and phrases can be manually edited by local experts. This ensures the language reflects cultural nuances and your brand messaging remains clear. A visual editor allows on-page work to ensure the translated text fits existing page designs.

Furthermore, Weglot handles hreflang tagging to match different language versions of your site to different locations. And subdomains can be created automatically, ensuring your foreign language sites are indexed by search engines.

Best of all? You can try Weglot’s Shopify Translation app for free!

Weglot’s Shopify Translation App

Shopify Solutions for Internationally Selling

There’s more to Shopify than Shopify alone! The platform offers multiple software solutions for those considering how to make their Shopify store international:

1. Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus offers all the standard Shopify features for selling globally, including currency, language, pricing, and shipping settings. Additionally, it allows for up to nine expansion stores, enabling you to duplicate your store for multiple locations.

2. Shopify Markets

Shopify Markets automates currency conversion, tax calculation, and localization. It enables selling in multiple markets from a single platform, making international sales more efficient.

3. Shopify Geolocation App

The Shopify Geolocation app automatically suggests appropriate store versions based on a user's location, adjusting language and currency. Sellers use it to provide a localized shopping experience, improving engagement by catering to regional preferences.

However, the Shopify Geolocation app will be discontinued from December 2024. This is due to advancements in the Shopify platform that reduce the need for the app’s consent-based localization features.

4. Shopify Translation App

The Shopify translation app enables sellers to translate their store's content into multiple languages. The shopping experience of your store is enhanced for international customers, and you can manually refine words to reflect cultural preferences.

Marketing Your Shopify Store

Localized marketing strategies are essential for engaging and converting customers in specific regions. Begin by conducting market research to understand local consumer behavior, preferences, and cultural nuances. Review local news sites and industry forums to gauge recent shopping trends. Study your competitors, and try to identify gaps in the market where you can position your own brand.

Consulting with local marketing experts and influencers will help you better understand the needs and requirements of your target market. Identify popular social media platforms used, and the type of advertising campaigns that have proved most successful.

Combine this data to tailor your marketing messages, ensuring they resonate with local audiences. Don’t forget to consider cultural sensitivities in your marketing materials to avoid miscommunication with your potential customers. And ensure your approach is in keeping with local laws and compliance regulations.

Accelerate International Shopify Selling with Weglot

For anyone looking how to sell internationally on Shopify, the key to a successful end result lies in the planning. Take the time to identify the right markets to enter, by using analytics to identify demand. Research local payment options, tax laws, and legal regulations before making any decision. Work out the most cost-effective shipping method, and you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises further down the line.

Once you’ve figured out all of the above, turn your attention to marketing. Our own Weglot plugin can help translate and localize your Shopify store, integrating with the platform and all of its themes. You’ll be able to manage website translation projects from a single dashboard, as the tool syncs with Content Management Systems (CMS) and communication apps. It’ll even handle Shopify invoice translation too!

We wish you the best of luck with growing your Shopify business overseas. To accelerate the formation of your international shopping stores, take a free trial with Weglot today.


1. Can my Shopify store sell internationally?

Yes, a Shopify store can sell internationally, with global shipping and multi-language and currency options. Shopify also provides a suite of tools and apps to help with tax compliance and shipping logistics.

2. What are the benefits of selling internationally on Shopify?

Selling internationally on Shopify offers access to a larger customer base and the potential for increased revenue. Depending on product offering, some sellers also find they have a greater audience in specific overseas markets.

3. What best practices for selling internationally on Shopify should I follow?

Best practices for selling internationally on Shopify include:

  • Conducting market research.
  • Localizing your products and marketing.
  • Setting up reliable shipping methods.
  • Understanding local laws and taxes.
  • Using dedicated software for translation and international SEO.

4. How can I handle my Shopify customer service in multiple languages?

Consider using Shopify's Translate & Adapt app to manage translations, then work with local experts to refine words in line with audience preferences. Third-party translation apps can also be used with the likes of Weglot, a complete translation and management solution.

5. How do I activate international markets in Shopify?

Activating international markets is easy with Shopify:

  • Go to your Settings > Markets > Add market.
  • Enter a market name.
  • In Countries/regions, search for your chosen location and check its box.
  • Click Add Market again.

The number of markets allowed will depend on your subscription plan. Users are able to group countries and regions together within the same market, to reduce the number used.

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