In September 2021, Shopify launched ‘Markets’ - a global commerce management tool that allowed merchants to identify, set up, launch and manage international markets all from a single store.

With the introduction of Shopify Markets, the ecommerce giant removed barriers associated with international ecommerce and made it more accessible for merchants to sell globally.

2020 changed everything for ecommerce. It was a record year with sales of over $4 trillion. As online retail blurs boundaries between platform, device and territory, opportunities are increasingly becoming international. Although post-pandemic sales in ecommerce didn’t follow the same explosive trajectory, growth has continued ever since.

While Shopify has always enabled merchants to operate in different territories with multi currency functionality and international domains, the introduction of Shopify Markets further removes complexities and hurdles to international commerce.

For businesses with teams in different territories that independently manage operations in their local market, an alternative to Markets is using multiple stores, with the ability to sell and get paid in different currencies. We’ll cover this option in the second half of the article, after we talk through Shopify Markets.

How Does Shopify Markets Work?

Merchants can manage international operations from a single Shopify store. International issues are solved with Shopify Markets, which acts as a hub with a set of tools merchants can use to manage their businesses on a global scale covering:

  • currency conversion for over 133 local currencies
  • local payment methods to reassure customers
  • duty and taxes automatically calculated at checkout
  • language translation so customers feel at home

Here are some of the ways that ‘Markets’ makes international commerce easy:


Expand into new territories easily

Using a central dashboard, merchants can enable new markets and manage them from one place.


Connect with regional customers by tailoring the experience for each market

By customising across regions, merchants can personalise the commerce experience for customers in different territories to increase trust and improve conversion rates. Using Markets, online businesses will be able to customise: local currencies, pricing and rounding rules, language, local domains and SEO optimisation, visibility of region-specific taxes so these aren’t added on later at checkout - which can harm conversion.


Optimise operations in different territories with insight analytics and smart settings

Shopify identifies the best way to sell in a region using data collected from millions of stores around the world. Merchants can then use these insights to improve their own business performance, predicting demand and setting goals.

With prices set by market, merchants will have greater control over their overall business.

Smart settings will automatically make changes and optimise stores to enhance performance, on behalf of the merchant.


Central management platform for all regions

Localised store-fronts all exist in one place, so merchants have a holistic view of their entire business across all countries and regions.


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How Can I Get Started With Shopify Markets?

It works slightly differently for merchants on Advanced Shopify and Shopify Plus plans:

All Shopify plans:

  • Manage how you sell to each market from one place
  • Sell in 133 currencies with Shopify Payments
  • Provide local payment options with Shopify Payments
  • Sell in up to 20 languages
  • Set up custom domains for local SEO
  • Smart settings that optimise operations

Additional features for Advanced/Plus plans:

  • Collect duty and import taxes at checkout
  • Set custom pricing for each market with Shopify Payments
  • Customise catalogues and storefronts for each market
  • Manage fulfilment locations per market

Fees for international transactions:

  • 0.85% fee per order when duty and import taxes are calculated with Shopify Payments; 1.5% fee when using an alternative payment provider
  • 1.5% fee per order when currency is converted
  • Fees for using local payment methods are included as part of Shopify Payments international payment processing.

Shopify Markets Pro

Shopify Markets Pro enhances and expands the features of the tools offered by Shopify Markets. Along with features that help you to set up and manage selling in international markets, Shopify Markets Pro offers additional features powered by Global-e to let online businesses scale and optimise international markets directly from the Shopify admin. Shopify Markets Pro is only available to merchants based in the Continental United States at the time of writing (October 2023).

When you use Shopify Markets Pro, Global-e becomes the ‘merchant of record’.

This is the legal entity responsible for selling products to a customer, and for being beholden to local laws and regulations in another region or country. Unless another party like Global-e is hired to take on these responsibilities, most merchants act as their own merchant of record. When you act as your own merchant of record, you're responsible for registering and remitting taxes, arranging local methods of payment, and organising shipping and fulfilment.

With Shopify Markets Pro, Global-e takes on the burden of managing the complexities of selling to other countries or regions on your behalf, allowing you to start selling to new international markets quickly. When using Markets Pro, you don't need tax registration in the countries you sell to. Global-e provides this tax registration, allowing you to comply when selling internationally.


Managing markets

Markets help you manage your brand in different locations by assigning different settings to different countries and regions. A market can contain a single country or region, or a group of countries or regions. For example, you can create a market called ‘North America’ that targets Canada, the United States and Mexico, all with one group of settings. If you have a different group of settings that you want to apply only to Japan, then you can create another market that targets only the country of Japan.


Set up automatic redirection for your visitors

Markets using dedicated domains

If your market is set up with a dedicated domain, subdomain, or subfolder, the automatic redirection setting automatically detects where in the world a visitor is based and redirects them to the URL that corresponds to their resolved market. For example, if you use a .com domain for your United States market and a .ca domain for your Canada market, then a Canadian visitor who visits yourwebsite.com will be automatically redirected to yourwebsite.ca.

Markets using dedicated domains have their content automatically indexed by search engines.

Markets using shared domains

If your market shares the same domain as another market ("Use primary market configuration"), then the automatic redirection setting will detect a visitor's location and adjust their page to display content (like currencies and language) that corresponds to their resolved market. For example, if your primary market is the United States with USD (yourwebsite.com), and you have a secondary market for Canada with CAD currency set to use the primary market's domain, then a Canadian visitor who visits yourwebsite.com will automatically see CAD pricing.

Markets using shared domains don't have their content indexed by search engines.

Pricing in local currencies

When you sell to markets, your customers can view prices in your store, pay for their orders at checkout, and receive refunds in their local currency. Prices are converted automatically using the current market exchange rate, but you can amend this so you can set exchange rates manually if you prefer.

If you sell in local currencies, you need to have a country selector so that customers can select their local country or region so your store displays their local currency.

International domains

An international domain is a web address or URL which relates to a country or region. When you set up international domains for a country or region, you’re creating a localised version of your online store in the currency and language for that region. You also display region-specific domains within search results to help customers find the relevant version of your store. When your online store appears in a customer’s local language and currency, they’re more likely to trust it and buy from you.

You can set up international domains with both Shopify-managed domains and third-party domains. It’s possible to use top-level domains, subdomains, subfolders, or a combination of each. For example, if you sell in both the US and France using different languages and currencies, then you can set up the following international domains:

  • yourwebsite.com = United States
  • yourwebsite.fr, fr.yourwebsite.com, or yourwebsite.com/fr-fr = France

International domains are available on the Basic Shopify plan and above. Localisation

Translating your store's content into different languages can lead to more sales because your international customers can better understand your marketing, product details, shipping, and return policies.

You can enable multiple languages from your Shopify admin to create separate URLs for your translated content. When customers land on a translated URL, your store automatically shows the translated version (if translations exist).

Duties and taxes

If you sell internationally, then your customers might be charged additional duties and import taxes when they receive their shipments. You can charge duties and import taxes at checkout if you meet the requirements.

Payments

Your market settings include a payments card that displays eligible local payment methods, as well as a link to your payment settings where you can enable and customise different payment methods.

Your store will need to use Shopify Payments as the primary gateway in order to process payments in a customer's local currency. Compatible multi-currency payment options include:

  • Shopify Payments credit card payments
  • Shop Pay
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Paypal Express

The Alternative to Shopify Markets: Clone, Expansion or Multiple Stores

So that covers Shopify Markets and Markets Pro - solutions that allow you to manage international operations from a single Shopify store, which, as discussed, works brilliantly for many businesses. But what about using expansion stores (also known as clone or expansion stores) - what are the reasons for going down this route instead of Markets?

Multiple Stores: Pros

Expansion stores give you the opportunity to explore a multi-store approach, with separate Shopify stores functioning independently of one another.

This separation between stores can work well if a business has teams in each region, managing the stores separately, and is especially useful if they all offer different products and price points. It effectively allows for complete localisation of each store.

Another scenario where multiple stores would work better than Markets is if you sell products with different tax requirements or rules around storage and shipping. It’s cleaner and easier to manage this through different stores.

Using Shopify Markets, all promotions and discounts are applied across the board, which can limit flexibility. For the freedom to manage discounting in different regions separately, multiple stores is the way to go.

If you’re using Shopify Markets, bear in mind that it is reliant on using Shopify Payments, which is not available in every territory around the world. It’s worth checking if Payments works where you’re thinking of trading - if it’s not there, it probably makes sense to consider the option of expansion stores.

Multiple Stores: Cons

Multiple store instances can complicate matters, in that each store will need a bank account in its own currency.

Having separate stores means an increase in effort and time required to manage them all independently. It can add complexity to the overall business.

Conclusion: Shopify Markets Vs Expansion Stores

Markets and Markets Pro give the option of a route to internationalisation through a single store. It’s a great solution and works brilliantly for thousands of businesses that are selling in multiple territories. It lets online brands manage multiple currencies, display different prices and manage local domains. It is accessible and cost effective but has limitations as outlined above.

Expansion stores will cost more and may not work unless different regions are managed by different teams, but it does offer the greatest amount of flexibility when it comes to growing internationally.

It may be that the first step for a brand exploring a new territory is to use Markets as the initial solution to test the new market, and then if it proves to be the right move, consider creating an expansion store in the region to be managed and run independently.

For more resources on going international, why not check out our guide to using hreflang and if you need any support with your ecommerce expansion plans, simply contact us and our experts will be happy to help.