Multi-Currency Vs Multi-Store: wondering why your international customers are abandoning their carts? This article helps you determine the best approach to solving this issue.
If you’re a global seller, or you’re ready to sell internationally, you must make sure to cater to the needs of international clients. Accepting payments in multiple currencies may have once been a bonus, but is now a necessity. It streamlines the shopping experience for your international customers and therefore reduces the number of missed sales due to customer’s not wanting to pay in a foreign currency.
There are two main methods of accepting multiple currencies on Shopify Plus: Multi-Currency and Multi-Store.
If you’re using Shopify Plus, you now have the exclusive option to accept payments from overseas customers using their Multi-Currency approach. When activated, it detects the location of visitors to your store and automatically switches to their native currency.
Shopify’s Multi-Currency option processes both payments and returns, always using current exchange rates and is available for a number of major currencies. Check out Shopify’s guide if you’d like to see how it works.
The alternate option to this is the Multi-Store approach, where your website redirects visitors to a regional domain or subdomain for a location-specific experience.
Let’s dig into the pros and cons of each, so you can decide which one is right for your store before making the switch.
The biggest benefit to the multi-currency approach is your foreign customers love it for the convenience and familiarity. If you sell to international customers and you don’t have a multi-currency solution, you will miss out on sales from customers who like to pay in their native currency.
It’s convenient for you, too. It’s practical, simple, and streamlined, and because your currencies are in the same place, you can sell internationally using only a single checkout and store.
It also makes full use of Shopify’s discount and checkout scripts, which only work with your site when you use their built in-checkout.
Another huge bonus to using Multi-currency with Shopify is that there’s no need to use a third-party application for refunds in foreign currencies. The Multi-Currency option makes international refunds straightforward and easy to process because Shopify converts them automatically.
There are certain restrictions that mean multi-currency might not be suitable for your store. For instance, not all of Shopify’s channels, such as the Wholesale channel, are supported and draft orders are not covered, either.
The number of currencies supported by Shopify is limited to 9. However, this isn’t as limiting as it seems. All the major currencies are supported, and the checkout won’t turn away customers who want to pay using one that isn’t supported- Shopify will simply charge them in your main home currency.
Shopify’s Multi-Currency option automatically exchanges pricing into the customer’s calculated currency based on current exchange rates. While this is convenient for some, it could be limiting for businesses who’d prefer to manually set different pricing for different countries to account for shipping costs.
Some of these limitations are negated by Shopify’s “rounding rules”, which round up the prices to a manually predetermined price point (such as .99), so that the cost always appears stable at the point of purchase, and will never seem random.
Of course, just because they appear stable, that doesn’t mean they are. Currencies rise and fall with exchange rates, and returning customers may notice the fluctuating prices in times of greater economic fluctuation. You do, however, have the freedom to choose and change the currencies you offer at any point in time, so you have total freedom to respond to any volatility with a plan of action.
Shopify charges a small fee for every currency conversion. This is dynamically added in on top of the converted price that the customer pays, so it doesn't affect your margin. It will make your foreign currency prices slightly higher than the spot rate.
It’s worth noting that multi-currency is only supported for online stores - purchases made in physical stores must always be made in the local currency.
While a multi-currency approach is convenient, multi-stores are stronger in terms of their flexibility to tailor to different audiences around the globe. You can give each country its own store with its own content, navigation, language and design. This is a great option if you ever run marketing campaigns for regional shopping holidays. It also gives you much more freedom to set different pricing structures, giving each store its own shipping rules, costs, and dedicated stock locations.
If you want to optimise your store for SEO, multi-stores are best here, too. Search results favour sites that don’t have to be translated, or prices converted, and a multi-store approach is the only method that allows you to use sub-domains to link your brand sites together, which is beneficial for analytics.
The benefits of the multi-store method come at a big cost due to the cost of hosting multiple stores. Expansion stores are included in Shopify Plus plan, but there is the cost of duplicating applications you use on your main site and the time it takes to reinstall and reconfigure them, too.
Plus, it can be tricker to set up. If you decide to take the multi-store approach, you must invest the time and money to properly translate and configure your sites, so Google doesn’t penalise you for duplicate content. Shopify only allows one store per username by default which is another con, but it is possible to work around this using third party applications.
Additionally, maintenance of each of your sites will take more work in the long-run. Content must either be manually synced between the different sites or automated using a paid third-party application. In order to keep your business functions running smoothly, you must also make sure each site is properly integrated into your Enterprise Resource Planning systems.
Making the Choice
When it comes to your finances, multi-currency is the clear winner. Processing all currencies on a single site will keep your running costs down to a fraction of the amount it takes to run multiple websites.
If the majority of your international customers use the 9 currencies Shopify account for and your marketing strategy works well in multiple countries, the additional time and costs of a multi-store setup are unnecessary.
When the only barrier to your store’s customer satisfaction is the option to check out in multiple major currencies, then your decision is even easier: the simple streamlined checkout process of multi-currency is for you.
If you want to try this approach, Shopify has made it easy to enable Multi-Currency from your Shopify account.
If, however, you value the freedom to more closely cater to different international markets, and you can afford the additional cost, a multi-store setup is likely to be a better choice for your business. Plus, it is great for international SEO.
Whatever you choose, your customers are sure to love the improvement of a streamlined, more personal shopping experience.
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