Everything You Need to Know About Shopify Markets

  • Technology, International
  • March 30, 2022
  • by Lucy Reid & Gregoire Barre

As of September 2021, Shopify announced their merchants are 'global by default' with a new suite of internationalization tools called 'Shopify Markets'. And after months of speculation on the feature, it’s officially live. This means it’s time to break down all the changes and improvements and what these mean for merchants.

International pricing, international domains, multi-language and tax, and duties calculation were all features available prior to September 2021. Shopify Markets — rather than one monolithic tool — is the umbrella term for consolidation of these. By releasing Shopify Markets, Shopify has created a completely different, and in some cases new, User Interface for administration. Previously, the system was disjointed, but now with the new UI along with some additional features, it’s easier to administer and incorporate into merchants' sites. So let’s take a look at all the features that fall under Shopify Markets…

Multi-store

What we had before

First came the 'multi-store setup' approach with Shopify Plus, which allows enterprise merchants to run dedicated storefronts for every country or region in which they operate. A Plus license, includes up to ten storefronts, with additional storefronts available but at a monthly cost.

Running multiple stores this way allows merchants to have complete control over the user experience and operational aspects of each region. For example, running different merchandising campaigns, promotions for different countries, and assigning specific inventory to a particular country.

However, many merchants complain of the overheads associated with needing to manage multiple storefronts, both financial (paying for one app or integration multiple times as it was installed on each store) and operationally (busy e-commerce teams needing to merchandise each homepage manually, although there are solutions for this).

What’s new after the release of Shopify Markets

With the release of Shopify Markets, merchants can now do all of the above as well as multi-currency, multi-language, international pricing, international domains and Geolocation all from a single-store setup - removing the overheads required to manage multiple storefronts and making a multi-store approach less appealing. 

They can also: 

  • Display different theme content to different countries using Liquid. 

  • Manage inventory per country (with separate fulfillment center) from a single store

Localized pricing

From multi-currency to international pricing, Shopify is continually improving its localized pricing features for merchants. Let’s dive into the two features and what updates have been made since the launch of Shopify Markets…

Multi-Currency

What we had before 

With the arrival of Shopify Multi-Currency, merchants became able to sell in more than one currency, without needing to create another storefront. With Multi-Currency, merchants can add up to 130 global currencies via the store admin, and their product prices will be automatically converted based on a choice of either:

  • That day's exchange rate.

  • A preset, static exchange rate

This has been excellent for merchants wanting to assess how many of their customers were coming from overseas and how well they responded to being able to pay in their own currency, but it has had its limitations:

No price books

First of all, most merchants who already trade in multiple currencies and are looking at replatforming to Shopify aren't used to calculating their international price lists based on the day's FX rate; they have distinct pricing per country or region. This was not something Shopify's original Multi-Currency offering accommodated but Shopify’s International Pricing did (more on this in a bit) - the only downside to this was you had to do it via a CSV export and import rather than easily via the Shopify admin. 

Gift cards

Gift cards have also proved problematic, as they can fluctuate in value and price. Although they can be rounded to the nearest zero, they'd often convert to something that doesn't follow the traditional pricing formats of gift cards e.g. £5, £10, £20, etc. because of what the conversions would come out at e.g. £5 becomes a $6.81 gift card. This gets pretty complicated, but it’s all explained in further detail here.

Additional shipping costs when exporting

Selling into other countries has also come with added complexities — around landed costs and duties i.e. the additional fees someone has to pay to get your product across borders into the destination country. Until recently, merchants' options were:

  • To work with a third-party solution like ZONOS or Global-e that has a globalized checkout option. With tax and duties options at checkout and localized Shopping/Payment providers.

  • Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) vs Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) - International shipping means mandatory shipping duties. Merchants have the option of padding their prices to include the shipping duty they’d have to pay (DDP) or leaving the shipping costs to the customer - resulting in a bill on delivery, not a good experience. For that reason, DDP is normally preferred. However, both of these are possible to configure in Shopify Markets. 

Penny-wise and pound stupid?

Another pain point for sticking to one store and selling in lots of different currencies is that merchants pay a conversion fee on every multi-currency transaction as opposed to no conversion fees when they have a dedicated storefront per currency.

Shopify Multi-Currency stores have a base currency. Any transaction completed with a different currency to the base currency will result in a transaction fee due to conversion between currencies. 

If you have a multi-store setup, you can receive payments to underlying bank accounts in all the currencies you accept. Then you can control the FX or pay suppliers in those currencies, which may be preferential for bigger brands.

This is important to consider when setting up your store and deciding between single and multi-store. 

International Pricing

International Pricing — a feature Shopify introduced around a year ago that allows merchants to:

  • Set price for a country or region

  • Set for a country or region

Wait, now I'm confused. What's the difference between this and standard Multi-Currency?

This feature is different from Shopify Multi-Currency which calculates pricing in different currencies using FX rates and rounding rules. With international pricing, you can set the price in each currency directly, which is more akin to a traditional price book.

To use the International Pricing feature to set price adjustments for a country or region, merchants must be using Shopify Payments and using Shopify Plus or Shopify Advanced.

With International pricing, prices can only be set via CSV import and export, but it has solved a few of the frustrations merchants have historically had with Multi-Currency:

No more sneaky customers

Customers cannot check out in whichever currency they fancy — the price and currency they pay are mapped to a specific shipping country. If a customer chooses to ship to a country or region that differs from the one selected on the storefront, then their prices change to match their shipping destination at checkout. This is why it's more important than ever to clearly communicate to customers that they should choose the correct country/currency combination when browsing.

More standardized gift cards

You can now set a specific gift card value per country, meaning the value of your gift cards won't fluctuate for your customers.

Country-specific pricing & sales

Most international merchants charge different prices for different countries due to a number of factors. They may also run their sale periods at different times. With International Pricing, merchants can set their RRP and compare-at/sale pricing at a variant level on a country-by-country basis.

What's the catch?

  • Do not assume a search provider or third-party application natively supports international pricing at this stage. This is still a relatively new feature, and due to the pricing information being stored somewhere different from where multi-currency information is stored against a product, many apps will need to make updates to their platform to make this work by default.

  • International pricing is not supported on draft orders. It’s also a front-end feature only. So any orders placed on the backend, such as telephone orders, can only be placed in the native currency e.g. if a store's base currency is GBP a customer placing an order over the phone that wants their product shipped to France can only pay GBP not EUR. 

  • Checkout restrictions will only apply to physical goods that require a shipping address. A buyer can choose to pay for digital goods in any currency.

  • If the customer is shipping to a country or region that you haven't added in your Shopify admin, then the prices that the customer selected revert to your shop’s base currency.

  • If you're using Buy Now dynamic checkout buttons directly from the product page, which includes Apple Pay and Google Pay, then the cart is bypassed and your international prices are not applied. To avoid this situation, disable Buy Now buttons on your product pages if you are using international pricing.

What’s new after the release of Shopify Markets…

Whilst merchants will have access to all of the solutions that came with International Pricing, Markets now allows them to:

  • Use country codes to calculate the exact taxes and duties for a customer's order and charge them via the Shopify checkout without a third-party application. 

  • Automate multi-currency and rounding settings for the best experience in a market if a merchant were to expand to a new one (and the ability to turn off automation if a merchant wishes)

  • Configure import taxes and duties.

Multi-Language

Initially, Shopify's Multi-Language API could only be used in conjunction with third-party translation apps. However, Shopify recently released a useful, new feature that allows you to import or export a translations' CSV directly via the admin.

This file supports the import of all Shopify-hosted content but does not yet support the translation of dynamic content injected into your theme. One of the biggest challenges this creates is how to support multi-lingual search on one Shopify store. To get around this, you'll need to do one of the following:

  • Rely on Shopify's own products e.g. Shopify's Predictive Search API.

  • Build a bespoke integration with an enterprise search tool e.g. Algolia, Klevu.

  • Use a search app that has native integration with a translation app e.g. BoostCommerce, Searchanise.

URLs

Currently, when multiple languages are enabled, your Shopify storefront will automatically use subfolders to denote which language is selected. For example, mycoolstore.com/fr for French. Your store's master language, when selected, will not exist under a subfolder.

These sub-folders are still a good option for those wanting a multi-lingual store but aren't using Multi-Currency (as you have to be using Multi-Currency for International Domains — the alternative we'll cover in a bit).

Pardon my French but...

Translation is inherently complex on a single-store architecture. Shopify still maintains this concept of a 'master' language, with all translated languages decoupled from the original product record. Some elements of that record cannot be translated (tags and product handles, for example).

Clients who already have all of their translated content managed in a third-party system (like a PIM or a translation platform) may need to revisit their approach to translation management when migrating to Shopify. With a multi-store setup, this can be managed via a middleware platform. On a single-store architecture, a more bespoke approach is required. We've solved this problem for a number of our clients, including Alessi, Pavers, and North Sails.

What’s new after the release of Shopify Markets…

  • The ability to make your theme, transactional emails and products available in multiple languages via the Shopify Admin.

  • The ability to support regional languages in your store URL e.g. en-gb or fr-ch.

International Domains

With Shopify moving away from the scenario where currencies and languages are entirely decoupled (i.e. where a Spain-based customer could shop on the .eu storefront, browse in German and pay in Danish Krone) they released the International Domains feature that permits the direct mapping of the country to store URL: merchants with multi-currency enabled can now map languages and price lists to specific regional URLs. Now, one Shopify storefront can have up to ten regional URLs. This is positive, as it will improve your customer's chances of being served the correct version of the site via search and remove the need for multiple stores purely for SEO reasons.

What’s new after the release of Shopify Markets…

All of the updates of Shopify Markets directly impact and improve international domains. When updating language and currency on your store the domain will automatically change based on the customer's choice. Including additional updates: 

  • To map inventory locations to shipping zones to control which fulfillment locations can ship to which countries.

  • To display different product catalogs dependent on the country selected (coming soon).

  • To automate multi-currency and rounding settings for the best experience in a market if a merchant were to expand to a new one (and the ability to turn off automation if a merchant wishes)

Shopify Markets Admin

Shopify Geolocation

Another international tool we've had from Shopify is their free Geolocation app. This uses the customer's IP address to determine from which country they're browsing. If the said customer is browsing with the store's default settings (e.g. .com URL, English language, and USD currency) but they're in France — where the merchant has defined specific settings for French customers in the Shopify admin — then the Geolocation pop-up will offer them the opportunity to update their settings so that they're viewing the relevant pricing and content.

If a merchant has used the International Domains feature, it will also update their store URL to reflect this. Customers can, however, decline to update their settings and browse any country view they like. But it's worth remembering that, with International Pricing developments, now, shipping countries are matched to the corresponding price list so your customers will only be able to pay in a currency that marries up with their shipping address.

Merchants seeking a more custom or branded geolocation experience can build a bespoke geolocation form, rather than using the out-of-the-box version that is installed when the Geolocation app is downloaded from the app store - we did this for gaming giant HyperX.

What’s new after the release of Shopify Markets…

Merchants can now identify where their customer is browsing from and direct them to the correct version of your site using a Geolocation app or localization form.

But what about Global-E and Shopify?

With the introduction of Shopify Markets making Shopify a 'global by default' platform, many have questioned where the much-discussed Global-e partnership comes in. The answer is that the Shopify/Global-e partnership is a separate service, perfect for merchants with more complex cross-border commerce needs. Whereas Shopify Markets makes international selling possible for brands of all sizes.

Coming soon to Shopify Markets…

Following the release of Shopify Markets, Shopify has been hard at work making the promised enhancements available and adding new features. 

Of these new features, two have recently been teased as coming soon to Markets. These include: 

  • The ability to customize your storefront content by market.

  • The ability to customize your product catalog for each market you sell to.

This is really exciting news for both merchants who are looking to expand into additional markets and for those who already have. Although specific details are yet to be released on how this will look and work within Shopify, you can be sure as soon as we can get our hands on these new features, we’ll test them out and let you know our thoughts  - stay tuned.


Authors

Lucy Reid

Lucy’s run 40+ Shopify rebuild and replatform discoveries since joining us in 2018. As Solutions Manager, she’s responsible for advising ambitious and growth-focused brands on the technical aspects of migrating to — and scaling with — Shopify Plus.

Gregoire Barre

Gregoire joined We Make Websites in 2020. He has degree in Economics coupled with 2 years of experience in retail and 4 years of experience in the e-commerce field as an e-commerce Manager and Business Analyst in the Agency world.


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