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How to Sell Internationally With Shopify and Instant Commerce Using Headless Commerce

Kaya Ismail • 26 July 2022

The beauty of eCommerce is that it allows brands to operate globally. However, a few issues need to be addressed to do so correctly, including handling multiple currencies, localizing content, and more. 

Shopify offers an eCommerce platform that allows brands to address many of these concerns. When combined with headless commerce, it provides all of the capabilities you need to sell internationally at scale. 

selling international with Shopify

How to Sell Internationally With Shopify

Global eCommerce sales are expected to reach $5.5 trillion by the end of 2022 and surpass $7 trillion by 2025. According to Shopify, 35% of all traffic to Shopify stores comes from international visitors, and the platform is built for merchants who want to cater to their global audiences. 

Shopify provides several features for brands serious about expanding into international markets. These include fracking and analytics to help you discover the countries your visitors are coming from, the ability to set up a global shipping strategy, and localization options that allow you to use international domains, translate content, and more. 

Shopify Markets

Shopify Markets enables you to transform your single store into an international powerhouse that reaches new markets and generates more sales across regions. It supports global expansion and makes it easier to internationalize the buying experience. Storefront prices and content can be shifted to local currencies, and content can be translated to local languages and more. 

Shopify Payments

Shopify Payments is the payment gateway that sits on top of Shopify’s eCommerce platform. Credit card processing and transaction fees are charged to the merchant. In return, they receive automated FX rates, tax rates for different regions, and other payment processing benefits for international markets.

Shopify Plus

The enterprise version of Shopify, Shopify Plus, opens the door to headless commerce. This enables you to sell across multiple platforms, integrate additional systems using APIs and enhance the customer experience with omnichannel selling. 

Shopify’s International Selling Roadblocks

While Shopify offers various features to help merchants get more international sales, it doesn’t come without drawbacks. Here are some of the roadblocks many merchants run into when trying to sell internationally using Shopify alone: 

Localization Challenges

Localization with Shopify alone is tricky since you can’t use one storefront to cater to multiple regions effectively. The multilingual and multi-currency functionalities provided through Shopify Markets prevent you from delivering a localized experience where there are unique products or promotions applicable to different regions. As a result, merchants are often forced to use the same products and content for other regions, which may allow them to include translations but doesn’t provide an authentic localized feel. 

Managing Multiple Stores, Codebases, Inventory and Checkouts

One way around the localization challenge is to create multiple stores for your largest regions. On the surface, this seems like a good idea, but it also means you will need to manage multiple stores, codebases, inventories, and checkouts.

Teams need to log in to various backends to manage everything, content, and storefronts need to be updated separately, and more infrastructure is required. As a result, this adds increased complexity to the backend and requires additional resources. 

You can't restrict user access by market

Selling in multiple countries with a single Shopify admin dashboard does not allow you to restrict access to your users by country. For example, you can't create a user that can only see or manage data for a specific country or region. All users in your Shopify organization have access to all data. This can create security risks, especially for larger businesses.

Fluctuating FX Rates

With Shopify Markets, it is possible to automatically apply FX conversion rates so that customers in other regions can view pricing in their local currency. Deciding which area a customer comes from is based on their shipping address which can cause confusion when purchasing a product and shipping to someone in another country. 

However, the primary challenge is that the currency risk falls on the merchant. If, for example, a customer makes a purchase one day and then asks for a refund a few weeks later, the merchant will have to deal with differences in the exchange rates in both instances. Alternatively, the merchant can create fixed price exchange rates, but this can become time-consuming for the merchant and confusing for customers.

Using Headless Commerce to Bypass Shopify Roadblocks

Brands that want to sell internationally with Shopify may find themselves running into roadblocks that make it difficult for them to have the type of success they imagined. However, adopting headless commerce can help them avoid many challenges.

Managing Multiple Storefronts From a Single Platform

Headless commerce works by separating the frontend experience that the customer sees from the backend infrastructure where everything gets managed. The advantage of a headless architecture is that you can manage multiple storefronts from a single backend.

Worried about creating a different storefront for every region? With Instant Commerce, you can quickly build a new frontend experience for different regions and even connect a headless CMS like Storyblok that allows you to deliver content and create alternative catalogs for each store.

Make Faster Content Changes

Content is a critical part of selling internationally as you need to customize and entice buyers from different countries with details that matter most to them. When making changes to the content or product catalog across countries, you don’t need to log in and out of Shopify environments, which takes a long time and results in many errors.

Creating Omnichannel Experiences

Headless commerce also allows you to deliver an omnichannel experience for your customers. Frontend experiences and storefronts don’t need to be limited to desktops but can also be created for mobile devices, digital kiosks, AR/VR devices, and more. As a result, merchants can provide the same shopping experience no matter where customers are located. 

Smoother Integrations

While merchants that rely on Shopify alone tend to use third-party applications that can often come with bugs, headless commerce enables you to create a composable ecosystem for your eCommerce store. Merchants can connect best-in-class tools to handle checkout, payments, search, and more. 

Go Global With Instant Commerce and Shopify 

Brands ready to take their eCommerce store across the globe can get a great start with Shopify as their eCommerce platform. But headless commerce can provide the missing piece to truly deliver the shopping experience that your customers want.

Instant Commerce enables eCommerce brands to go headless without the hassle by providing a user-friendly frontend as a service solution. Shopify merchants can create an engaging experience for their customers using our headless storefront builder and pre-built building blocks. 

Using Instant Commerce as your frontend as a service solution, you can seamlessly integrate with Shopify and a host of other tools. The result is increased conversions, faster time to market, and reduced developer dependency. 

Ready to go global with your eCommerce store? Learn more about headless commerce and look at Headless commerce with Shopify: the complete guide

Author / Writer
Kaya Ismail
Content Marketer

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