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Technology augmentation and an increasingly globalized and competitive commercial environment have changed the way business is done.
As per research, the global cross-border B2C e-commerce market was valued at $784.6 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $7938.2 billion by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 26.2% from 2022 to 2031.
Furthermore, around 54% of US digital shoppers reported making online purchases from foreign sites in the past, thus showcasing the transformation in the buying behavior of consumers.
One of the key foundations of cross-border success is an international and localized eCommerce store optimized for a great shopping experience for different customer segments. 49% of marketers believe that geo-targeting yields the highest ROI for their ad spend. Also, localization can increase search traffic by 47%, boost website visits by 70%, and increase conversion rates by 20%.
This shows how important it is for online businesses to optimize their eCommerce stores for cross-border localized customer experience. One of the great cross-border management tools that can help online sellers identify, set up, launch, optimize, and manage their international markets – all from a single store – is Shopify Markets.
In this article, we are going to walk you through the process on how to set up Shopify markets, what are the different types of markets you can create using Shopify Markets, and what are the various localization settings you need to do to optimize your online store for great customer experience.
What Is Shopify Markets?
If you want to sell your products globally in different countries or regions and create customized shopping experiences for customers in local markets, then Shopify Markets is a great tool to help you manage cross-border sales.
Shopify Markets is a cross-border management tool that helps you manage international markets right from identifying, setting up, and launching these markets to optimizing and managing them all from a single store.
It gives you all the tools your online business requires to manage and expand global sales from a centralized point, that is, your Shopify Admin. Using Shopify Markets, you can create different markets in Shopify to target specific countries or regions and also include countries and regions in one group to simplify your expansion efforts.
For instance, you can create a market entitled North America that includes Canada, the United States, and Mexico and targets all these regions with the same set of settings. So if you want to target another region, say Japan, you can create another market that targets only the country of Japan and apply different groups of settings to it.
Besides leveraging the above aspects, you can optimize your online store for different markets to provide customized shopping experience for different customer segments.
Thus, if you have separate teams to manage the operations in different local markets, you can go for setting up multiple online stores to target various markets in place of a single online store serving different markets globally. Setting up independent online stores for each of the local markets would allow you to sell and get paid in the local market currency rather than your home currency.
Apart from the currency settings, Shopify Markets helps you manage the experience of your brand by ascribing different settings to different countries and regions. A market can contain a single country or region, or a group of countries or regions.
Now, to create different markets on Shopify for the first, you must know certain things. The following section lays down certain considerations that you must keep in mind before creating different markets in Shopify.
Types Of Shopify Markets
The most important thing that you must know before setting up your Shopify store for the first time is that by default, Shopify creates three types of markets for your store. These include Primary Market, International Market, and Countries or Markets That You Don’t Sell To.
a. Primary Market
As the name suggests, the primary market refers to the major country or region you will target to sell your products. This will typically be your domestic market. However, your store’s address and currency will help you in determining what your primary market will be.
If your Shopify store is new, go to your Shopify Admin and then click ‘Settings’ and then go to ‘Store Details’ to determine your store’s currency. Note that your store currency may not match the country or region that you have set up in the store address section.
To explain this, let me give you an example. Say, your store’s address indicates that it is located in the United States. But you have set your store’s currency as Canadian Dollars. In such a case, your primary market is set to Canada.
Also note that if you make any changes to your Shopify store, then by default, those changes automatically impact your primary market. Say, if you change your product prices or set a new inventory location, those changes get applied automatically to your primary market.
Additionally, Shopify allows you to change your current primary market to a different country or region that is more appropriate to your selling strategy. This means you can edit your current primary market and change it to a new one. Accordingly, you can also change your store’s currency and keep it the one that matches your new primary market.
What this means is that you can assign only one country or region as your primary market and you cannot delete it.
Also, by default, your primary market uses your store’s base prices. This means that if your primary market currency is different from your store’s base currency, then your base prices get automatically converted to your primary market currency using a daily currency conversion rate.
However, if you want your primary market to have different prices than your store’s base prices, you can either set price adjustments or set fixed prices for your primary market.
Price adjustments are nothing but percentage changes to the base prices of the products in your store. Such adjustments allow you to increase or decrease the price of all of your products for a specific country or region.
Likewise, you can set fixed prices for some or all of your products and their variants. The fixed prices that you set automatically override the converted international prices for each market that you have activated. Note that to set fixed prices for multiple-country markets, use a specific market’s base currency.
b. International Market
The International Market refers to the market that includes a curated list of countries and regions where other merchants similar to you might sell their products and services.
Note that your Shopify store has International Market by default. Therefore, when you first access Shopify Markets within your store, it already has an International Market created for you.
This International Market is inactive by default. If you want to start selling your products to all the countries or regions included in the International Market, you need to activate it manually.
c. Countries Or Regions You Don’t Sell To
The third type of market within your Shopify store refers to the ‘Countries And Regions You Don’t Sell To’. This type of market includes all the other countries or regions where you don’t sell your products or services currently. Your Shopify store creates this market by default. Therefore, you cannot delete this market.
So, if any prospective customers from those countries or regions visit your online store, they can just view your primary market, its currency, and its default language, but they cannot make purchases or checkout from your online store. Until and unless you activate this market, the customers can’t check out or make purchases from your store.
Besides the above market types, you can also create Single Country Markets and Multiple Country Markets in your Shopify store.
d. Single Country Markets
If you want to create a market that contains only one country or region, then you must create a Single Country Market. Thus, you must use single-country markets to sell products to those countries or regions where you have a particular targeting strategy.
For instance, if your primary market is Canada and a major part of your international sales start coming from the United States, then you can create a single-country market targeting only the United States. By doing so, you can increase your sales and conversions as you would be giving a dedicated and localized experience to your customers residing in the United States.
Furthermore, you must remember that when you create a new single-country market, the base currency for the market is set to the currency of that country. In case the currency for that country is not supported by your Shopify store, then the base currency is set to your store’s base currency.
e. Multiple Country Markets
If you want to create a market that contains more than one country or region, then you must create Multiple Country Markets. You must use multiple-country markets to sell products to a group of countries or regions that share similar targeting strategies.
Say, for instance, you might sell products to Germany, France, Belgium, and Italy, and each of these countries shares the same product pricing, shipping rates, and domain. In such a scenario, you must create one market that contains all four countries as they share the same targeting strategies.
Furthermore, you must remember that when you create a new multiple-country market, your store’s base currency is set as the default base currency, and all the local currencies get enabled. However, if you disable the local currencies for a multiple-country market, then all customers in that market make purchases in the market’s base currency or another base currency that you select.
Also, note that to set fixed product prices, the base currency for a multiple-country market is used.
Setting Up Shopify Markets
Before we jump on to the process of how to add a market in Shopify, you must know that you can add a maximum of 50 markets in addition to your primary market on your Shopify store.
In case you need more than 50 markets, then you can combine several countries or regions with similar targeting strategies together into multiple-country markets. Otherwise, you can add more than 50 markets using the Markets API, provided you use Global-e or another external system of record.
Also, note that the International Market is inactive by default. This means that customers in these countries can’t checkout or make purchases from your store until you activate the market.
How To Add A Market In Shopify?
The following are the steps that you must follow to add a market in Shopify.
1. Go to your Shopify Admin and then go to Settings.
2. Under ‘Settings’, click ‘Markets’.
3. Once you get on the ‘Markets’ page, click ‘Add Market’ on the extreme right-hand side corner.
4. When you click on ‘Add Market’, a dialog box will open. In that dialog box, first, enter the name of the market that you want to create under ‘Market Name’.
To enter the market name, click the ‘Add Countries or Regions’ button with a plus sign and search for the country or region for which you want to create a market in the search bar.
Once you come across the country or the region you searched for, check the box of that particular country or region to enter the country or the region’s name in the ‘Market Name’ field. Note that this name helps you identify the market within your Shopify Admin and is not displayed to your customers.
5. Once you enter the name, click ‘Done’ and then ‘Save’.
How To Optimize Shopify Markets?
To customize your online store’s experience for customers in a specific region, there are a couple of settings you need to do.
1. International Domain
One of the important things that you need to work on to localize the experience for your customers is to use an international domain for a specific country or region.
International domain is a web address or URL that is specific to a country or region. When you use an international domain for a country or a region, you localize the experience of the customers coming from such a country or region by presenting your store in the local currency and language of that region.
In addition to this, you also display region-specific domains within search results so that your customers discover the appropriate version of your store.
Now, why is it important to localize your Shopify store for a specific country or region? Well, it is observed that customers are more likely to make purchases from your online store if it appears in a customer’s local language and currency.
That’s because shopping experiences customized for a specific country or region have an impact on the way customers perceive a brand and how likely are they to make a purchase.
Also, you can attract customers from other countries and regions and build an international reputation for your brand.
To set up international domains, you can use either Shopify-managed domains or third-party domains. Further, you can use top-level domains, subdomains, subfolders, or a combination of each. To explain this, let me give you an example.
Say, for instance, to sell your products in Germany as well as the United States, you can set up international domains for each of the markets with their local currency and language.
The following are the international domains that you can set up for each of these markets:
- ‘your-shop-name.com’ for the United States
- ‘your-shop-name.fr, fr.your-shop-name.com, or your-shop-name.com/fr-fr for France
Note that you can set up unique URLs for each country or region that you want to target in the following ways depending on your SEO strategy:
- Top-level domains, such as your-shop-name.fr
- Subdomains, such as fr.your-shop-name.com
- Subfolders, such as your-shop-name.com/fr-fr
You can use one method or a combination of the above methods to set up unique URLs for a specific country or region.
However, it is advised that you use subfolders if you are setting up Shopify Markets for the first time. That’s because this is the most simple way to set up country or region-specific URLs that offer SEO benefits.
Now there are some conditions that you must consider before setting up international domains.
Thus to set up international domains, you must:
- Use custom domains instead of your default myshopify.com domain.
- Create a URL for each individual market, such as johns-apparel.de for the German market or johns-apparel.com/en-eu for the European market.
- You must translate your store’s content via the Translate and Adapt app, or by using a compatible third-party app to showcase your store in multiple languages.
- You must use URL redirects if you remove content on your international domains or subfolders for a market. This will not send the buyers to a webpage that long become non-existent.
How To Set Up International Domain?
As mentioned before, there are various ways in which you can set up your international domains. These methods include:
- Top-Level Domains
The method you choose would depend upon your SEO strategy.
Set Up Markets Using Primary Domain Only
There is no need for you to configure any further options in your Shopify Admin if you set up your markets using the primary domain only. The reason behind this is that all of your markets use the same store URL and hence you cannot customize which languages are available to each market.
To set up markets using your primary domain only, follow the steps below.
1. Go to your Shopify Admin and then go to ‘Settings’.
2. Once you click on ‘Settings’, then go to ‘Markets’.
3. Under ‘Markets’, go to the ‘Other Markets’ section and find the market that you want to set up, and then click ‘Manage’.
4. Then, in the ‘Market Settings’ section, click ‘Manage’ that is against the ‘Domains and Languages’ section under ‘Market Settings’.
5. Now, in the ‘Market Domains And Subfolders’ section, select ‘Primary Domain Only’. Then, click ‘Save’.
Set Up Markets Using Domains Or Subdomains
You must first add a domain or a subdomain for each of the markets that you want to set up before using top-level domains or subdomains for your region-specific URLs. Once you add your domains or subdomains, you can then designate each of them to their target markets and enable the languages that you want to display.
To set up markets using domains or subdomains, follow the steps below.
1. Go to your Shopify Admin and then go to ‘Settings’.
2. Under ‘Settings’, click ‘Markets’.
3. Once you click on ‘Markets’, go to the ‘Other Markets’ section and find the market that you want to set up.
4. Then, in the ‘Other Markets’ section, find the market that you want to set up, and then click ‘Manage’.
5. Once you click on ‘Manage’, select ‘Domain or Subdomain’ in the ‘Market Domains and Subfolders’ section.
6. Once you click on ‘Domain or Subdomain’ in the ‘Market Domains and Subfolders’ section, you will see Domain or Subdomain list. From that list, select the top-level domain or subdomain that you want to assign to this market.
7. You can check the languages that you want to enable for this market in the ‘Market Languages’ section. Note that this is optional.
8. Finally, click ‘Save’ to save the changes.
Note that once you set up markets using domains or subdomains, you can switch to other methods, provided the associated domain or subdomain is connected to your Shopify admin. However, if you remove the domain or subdomain, then customers visiting your region-specific URL will see a 404 error page.
Set Up Markets Using Using Subfolders
This is another way in which you can set your target markets. Note that when you use subfolders to set up unique URLs for your Shopify store, it will add a region-specific suffix at the end of your URL, appearing right after the two-letter language suffix for each language that the target market supports. Furthermore, you can enable multiple languages for each market if you sell your products in multiple languages.
Say, for instance, your primary market is the United States with a URL your-shop-name.com. Now if you want to target the market for Canada, you can subfolders on your-shop-name.com/en-ca.
However, if you want to make French a language option for your Canadian customers as well, then that also gets a unique subfolder on your-shop-name.com/fr-ca.
To set up markets using subfolders, follow the steps below:
1. Go to your Shopify Admin and then go to ‘Settings’.
2. Once you click ‘Settings’, search for ‘Markets’ and click it.
3. Then, in the ‘Other Markets’ section, find the market that you want to set up, and then click ‘Manage’.
4. Next, in the ‘Market Settings’ section, click ‘Manage’ against ‘Domains and Languages’ in the ‘Market Settings’ section.
5. Then, in the ‘Market Domains and Subfolders’ section, select ‘Subfolders’.
6. Once you click on ‘Subfolders’, you will see a Subfolders box. In that box, enter a region-specific suffix for your target market. For instance, you may enter ‘eu’ for Europe or ‘ca’ for Canada.
7. Then, you may also check the languages you want to enable for this market under the ‘Languages’ section. Note that this is optional.
8. Once you make the requisite changes, click ‘Save’. This is how your subfolders are created using your primary domain.
Note that if in the future you want to delete a market that uses subfolders, your customers will see a 404 error page if they visit that region-specific URL. In such a case you would want to redirect those customers to your primary domain or another region-specific URL. To do that, you can import URL redirects by using a CSV file.
Set Up Markets By Adding Multiple Domains To Primary Market
The third way in which you can set up your target markets is to add multiple domains to your primary market. You can use this method to create target markets if you have multiple domains that you want to use for your primary target market.
Say, for instance, you have a primary market for Canada. Now, you want to offer both an English and French experience for your customers with separate region-specific domains. In this case, you can add both domains to your Canadian market.
Now when you add multiple domains to the same market, you must ensure that each domain targets a different language. Note that if you add two domains that target the same language, then search engines might flag this as duplicate content. This can have a negative impact on your search ranking.
To add multiple domains to the same primary market, you must follow the steps below.
1. Go to your Shopify Admin and then go to ‘Settings’.
2. Once you click ‘Settings’, search for ‘Markets’ and then click it.
3. Then, in the ‘Primary Market’ section, click ‘Manage’.
4. Next, go to the ‘Languages and Domains’ section and then click ‘Manage’, and then click ‘Manage Domains’.
5. Then, in the ‘Manage Domains’ dialog box, click ‘Use Multiple Domains’. Once you click on ‘Use Multiple Domains’, then click + sign to add an existing domain, and then select the domain that you want to add from the drop-down menu.
6. Finally, select a default language for the domain from the Default drop-down menu. And then click ‘Save’ to save your changes.
Shopify Markets Limitations
Though Shopify Markets is a great tool and has some exciting features to offer to its users. However, there are certain downsides to using Shopify Markets.
- At present, Shopify only supports Shopify’s checkout. This means stores using any third-party checkout solutions processing transactions outside of Shopify’s checkout will not be supported by Shopify as of now.
- Shopify does not support stores targeting a different country than their primary domain.
- Also, Shopify does not support some of the local payment methods. At present, Shopify supports over 100 payment gateways. However, it still does not support popular payment methods depending on the country you are targeting.
- Additionally, Shopify lacks control over international shipping fees. Note that Shopify calculates shipping fees based on the shipping address that the customer enters. This can lead to increased shipping costs for customers thereby restricting them from making a purchase.
Shopify Markets vs. Expansion Stores
As you are aware, there are two options for e-commerce stores to internationalize their businesses on Shopify. One way is to use Shopify Markets and the other is via Shopify Expansion Stores.
Before the launch of Shopify Markets, you were required to follow a multi-store approach, called the expansion stores, if you were to go global with your Shopify store. Expansion Stores are nothing but a feature in Shopify Plus that allows e-commerce stores to internationalize their store by creating separate Shopify stores functioning independently of one another.
As each of the expansion stores functions independently, such independence allows your brand to operate in separate markets, with each store complying with region-specific rules and requirements.
The multi-store approach allows Shopify stores increased control and flexibility in each of the independent markets. This is especially true when online retailers have varied products, price rates, and promotion strategies across each region.
While Shopify Expansion Stores provides a whole lot of benefits to online retailers, it has its own share of limitations.
On the other hand, Shopify Markets is a tool from Shopify that helps online retailers go global with their stores from a single Shopify store. What this means is that the Shopify store owners can use a host of elements that help them internationalize their business all from just one Shopify store. These may include managing multiple currencies, showcasing different price rates in every market, controlling import taxes and duties, displaying the right currency and language based on the location of the buyer, and managing local domains.
The following table lays down the points of difference that will help you understand whether you should go for Shopify Expansion Stores or Shopify Markets.
|Features||Shopify Markets||Expansion Stores|
|Infrastructure||Shopify Markets enables tailored shopping experiences for customers effortlessly. It empowers businesses to create specialized domains or subfolders for each individual market, which is a major plus for SEO optimization. How? Using Shopify Markets, businesses can create subfolders, customize URL segments, and translate and adapt content effortlessly to serve specific markets. Such SEO customization leads to enhanced product and service visibility on search engines, thereby leading to increased organic traffic for businesses.||Since Expansion Stores involves creating separate stores functioning independently of one another, this may lead to certain IT management challenges. For instance, applying tags for multilingual SEO, managing robots.txt files, and integrating with platforms like Google Merchant may call for effort and coordination across different stores.|
|Localized Experience||Shopify Markets creates markets for countries and not regions within such countries. As a result, it may not cater to the specific conditions and prerequisites of the regions that are beyond the main borders.||Expansion Stores accommodate the precise needs of the local markets.|
|Supply Chain Management||Shopify Markets lacks the ability to put in place rules that promote inventory management based on the nearest warehouse. However, as per the recent announcements by Shopify, it intends to address the concern in the near future.||Expansion Stores work best for online businesses that have multiple warehouses across the globe.|
|Local Payments||To make sales in local currencies through Shopify Markets, the online stores are required to use Shopify Payments, which is currently accessible only in limited countries.||Expansion Stores work best if you are making sales in regions or countries where Shopify payments are not accessible. The only alternative then to make sales in local currencies is to go for an Expansion Store.|
|Operations||An online business having a single team to oversee different markets across the globe must use Shopify Markets. Shopify Markets is a one-stop-shop tool that helps e-commerce sellers with limited team size to streamline operations across markets. It eliminates the effort to recreate products, content, or information across the stores. Plus, it also provides analytics for each of the markets all from a single source, that is your Shopify Admin. Though, Shopify Markets may not be able to provide uniformity in theme and landing pages that is of utmost importance for your brand.||An online business must opt for establishing Shopify Expansion Stores if it has dedicated or independent teams to cater to different markets. That’s because Expansion Stores have different sections for themes, products, orders, marketing, analytics, and much more, that help e-commerce businesses with specialized teams across the globe manage their markets in a targeted way.|
Whether you go for an Expansion Store or Shopify markets, it completely depends upon your selling strategy, the way you want to display your brand, and the resources you want to invest in your online store.
Shopify Markets is a great tool to sell products in international markets. It offers excellent features that help online businesses provide localized experiences to their international customers and make the process of checking out easier for them. This leaves a great impression on the minds of the customers and compels them to come back to make more purchases from the online store.
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