Get in touch
All Posts

The Internationalization Guide for Shopify


Master global expansion with Shopify! Learn the essentials of catering to international customers, from localization to legal compliance, and expand your brand's reach today.


Headshot of Johnnie Regalado, VP of Engineering at Domaine.

Johnnie Regalado

VP of Engineering

A graphic representing internationalization in ecommerce on a green background.

A Shopify storefront opens the doors to global sales. But building a worldwide audience takes a bit more work.

Imagine a potential customer encountering a website in a foreign language with unfamiliar pricing. The chances of a conversion are slim.

To cater to international customers, you'll need to consider both internationalization and localization. But what exactly do these terms mean for Shopify users?

A mobile phone with modals that say "We ship to Canada", "Your language is set to English", and "Selectors in footer toggle" as wells as a screenshot of what it looks like in Shopify admin to manage a primary and other international markets. All on a green background.

The Basics of Internationalization for Ecommerce

People often use “internationalization” and “localization” interchangeably. In fact, they’re two separate concepts.

Shopify's platform is ready for global sales (internationalized). But for a seamless experience, you need to make sure your third-party apps and plugins are too. Meanwhile, localization tailors aspects of your store—like language, currency, and local preferences—to specific regions.

In essence, internationalization lays the groundwork, while localization applies the specific pieces you need to run an ecommerce operation in another locale.

As it relates to Shopify, it can be helpful to think about internationalization in three tiers:

  1. Tier 1: At the most basic level, turning on internationalization is relatively straightforward with Shopify's international sales tools (formerly Shopify Markets), the platform's functionality that helps brands manage and expand their global sales. With Shopify's international sales tools, you can create customized online shopping experiences for different customer segments, targeting specific countries or regions. Shopify's international sales tools also lets brands group countries and regions together to simplify expansion efforts, making cross-border ecommerce more accessible. (source)
  2. Tier 2: Here, we introduce Shopify's Managed Markets (formerly Shopify Markets Pro), which includes additional features powered by Global-e, a natively integrated cross-border ecommerce platform that helps brands grow international sales. When a brand uses Shopify's Managed Markets, Global-e becomes the merchant of record. A merchant of record is the legal entity responsible for selling products to a customer, and for adhering to local laws and regulations in another region or country. (Think tax remittances, acceptance of local payment methods, shipping and fulfillment.) With Shopify's Managed Markets and Global-e baked in, brands don’t have to take all of that on. (source)
  3. Tier 3: The third tier is aimed at the complexities of internationalization for large Enterprise brands. These brands are already operating in multiple regions and typically require regional sites, or expansion stores, to better manage localized campaigns, product launches, sales, and more- which Domaine has a long history of accomplishing for Enterprise brands using the Shopify platform. These brands are high growth and looking to tackle the complex internationalization challenges that we love solving for.

What is the Difference Between Shopify's International Sales Tools and Managed Markets?

At a high level, the difference is simple. Shopify's international sales tools helps brands expand their reach by selling in multiple currencies and languages. Shopify's Managed Markets offers additional features such as localized pricing and inventory management, duties and taxes in regional proxies, product restriction avoidance, highly competitive shipping rates and more, making it a great solution for larger businesses with complex international operations.

With Shopify's Managed Markets brands can trust Shopify to automatically restrict specific products in specific regions that would otherwise get denied at customs.

Managed Markets can also include taxes and duties into the bottom line price in regions where shoppers expect to see just the final amount. This reduces sticker shock and improves conversions.

Finally, Shopify's Managed Markets includes order editing that allows brands to make post-purchase changes without having to worry about updating duties, taxes or currency changes.

Key Success Factors for Global Shopify Sellers

Market Research and Localization

Localization isn't just about translation. It's about removing purchase barriers (language, currency, etc.) and building trust by catering to local preferences.

Here's a few examples of what it takes to win international customers:

A localized shopping experience is the key to connecting with international customers, driving sales and winning brand loyalty. Here’s a quick story to back that up:

A screenshot of the desktop Laura Mercier site, with the country selector menu open and a mobile screenshot of the bareMinerals site PLP, showing prices in GPB, all on a green background.

When Laura Mercier, bareMinerals, and Buxom transitioned to new parent company, Orveon, they had the opportunity to put together a new innovation roadmap to accelerate growth. Their original Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) sites were under-invested in and missing key ecommerce tools and functionalities. They came to Domaine to re-platform to Shopify Plus to accelerate speed to market for internationalization.

The move to Shopify enabled powerful updates like stronger personalization and a more interactive shopping experience, allowing all three beauty brands to serve the right product at the right time and increase conversion. The new sites leveraged Shopify 2.0’s theme abilities to successfully roll out nine regional sites in eight months, all built for multi-language and multi-currency. Each regional site gives brand operators the flexibility to toggle features on and off based on regional needs. And, local teams can implement their own strategies for marketing, content, and merchandising.

This strategy created uniformity for the roll-out of digital products while giving brand operators flexibility to tailor regional experiences. Ultimately, it allowed all three Orveon brands to focus on first-party consumer data to build personalized experiences across different regions.

International SEO Best Practices

According to Klarna Insights, over 44% of customer journeys start with search engines. Search becomes even more crucial in new markets where brand awareness is low.

SEO basics hold true, but hopping international borders calls for a few tweaks:

There’s no such thing as SEO magic, but there are plenty of Shopify apps that can help you optimize.

Payments ecommerce

Payment and Currency Considerations

You probably don’t need to ditch your payment processor, as most of the top players (like (Shopify Payments, Stripe, and PayPal) handle international payments.

Here's what matters, though, when it comes to payments and currency:

If you’re a large brand with a complex setup, you might need separate Shopify instances (aka separate copies of your store) for different business units in each country.

At Domaine, we’ve helped numerous household brand names powered by Shopify tackle complex internationalization challenges.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Compliance is key when selling abroad. Here are a few things to watch for:

Logistics and Shipping

Fast and efficient delivery gets trickier as you grow into international markets. Hence, the big question for international fulfillment: centralized operations or a third-party logistics (3PL) provider?

The right shipping strategy depends, but here’s one way to approach it:

Fully equipped to handle international legal, regulatory, logistics and shipping specifications and requirements, Shopify Managed Markets, along with Global-e as merchant of record, is how internationalization goes from simple to supercharged.

You don’t have to take it from us– our client NEST New York was able to focus on elevating their ecommerce experience while Shopify Managed Markets and Global-e allowed them to easily expand globally.

We launched their new ecommerce experience with enhanced storytelling, improved product discovery, and modularity in content blocks to empower their brand operators to be more creative and agile with campaigns.


“Shopify Managed Markets and Global-e make it possible for brands like ours to grow by taking care of cross-border logistics and shipping, so that our team can focus on creating elevated and seamless experiences for the customer.” - Allyssa Kaiser, VP DTC & Performance Marketing at NEST New York

Customer Service

When serving foreign users, don't just translate your store—localize the entire customer journey. If you’re still small and have limited resources, you can recruit outside help. Many companies offer customer service in foreign languages, resolving issues through your Shopify store and working across time zones.

Market research and localization are crucial, but there's always room for improvement. Encourage customers to provide feedback in their native language. Gathering feedback lets you continuously refine your global service and shopping experience.

Forge Your Own Internationalization Path

Internationalization means different things to different brands. Regardless of where your brand is in its global expansion, Shopify and Domaine are here to help you build beautiful ecommerce experiences, grow revenue and eventually… take over the world. 😏

Johnnie Regalado

VP of Engineering

Meet Johnnie Regalado, Domaine's VP of Engineering. With extensive experience in full-stack development, Johnnie has been pivotal to the success of numerous enterprise ecommerce deployments. He is passionate about staying up-to-date with the latest technologies to drive continuous improvement and excellence in Domaine's work. At home in Toronto, ON, Johnnie enjoys running, photography, and DIY projects.

Ready to grow?

We help brands expand globally, without limits.

Request a quote

Related Posts

View All