Scaling Shopify stores: Your passport to global expansion and localization

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With billions of online shoppers worldwide, you have more opportunities than ever to reach new customers. Did you know that more than half of ecommerce shoppers buy from online stores in other countries? So, how can you tap into this global market? 

Achieving worldwide expansion goes beyond adding new languages and currencies to your Shopify store–you need to step up your search and merchandising game as well.

Image of the globe with an icon of a shopper buying from international stores. A headline notes that 52% of online shoppers say they have made purchases from international stores.
Source: 25 E-Commerce Statistics of 2024

Advanced tools and technologies will have the biggest impact on which ecommerce companies succeed in their global expansions. Some trends to consider include: 

  • Automation: Imagine automating your marketing, merchandising, inventory management, risk assessment–ecommerce solutions can make this a reality.  
  • Artificial intelligence (AI): Leverage AI for order fulfillment, chatbots, personalized communication, product recommendations, and more. How can AI enhance your customer interactions? 
  • Data integration: As your store expands across regions, channels, and markets, unifying data will help keep your brand intact and your data in order, from inventory and storefront platforms to merchandising and marketing tools.  
  • Personalization: Create more meaningful shopping experiences through messaging, products, communications, and recommendations that align with shoppers’ past behavior, as well as the information they have provided. Shoppers will also have better experiences when they find what they want in less time.
  • Critical considerations for global ecommerce expansion

    Expanding your ecommerce presence to other parts of the world can be a substantial investment of time and resources. It can also involve some risk, so it’s essential to ensure that you have the right strategies and tools in place from the outset. 

    Start by researching new markets and understanding the differences between your current customers and prospective audiences. When it comes to adapting your Shopify site to new markets, the right AI-powered tools will do much of this work for you. However, learning about the market will help you decide whether it’s a good expansion location and help you make effective product and marketing-related decisions. 

    A graphic reminds readers to think local before they go global with icons representing key considerations, from local culture, language, and trends through sizing variations and conversions.

    Consider these aspects of a potential new market to decide whether they’re a good fit and how your site may have to adapt: 

  • Local culture: As your store expands across regions, channels, and markets, unifying data will help keep your brand intact and your data in order, from inventory and storefront platforms to merchandising and marketing tools.  
  • Regulatory requirements: Commerce and ecommerce regulations can impact everything from data protection to shipping restrictions. 
  • Economic conditions and influences: The economy may affect customer demand and pricing. 
  • Currency risk and conversion fees: Each market’s currency and conversion rates affect how much you profit from transactions. 
  • Payment options and preferences: Preferences vary worldwide, so knowing your options in advance will help you give customers the right choices.  
  • Clothing and shoe size variations: Your tools and descriptions should automatically accommodate changes in sizing systems by region.   
  • Local trends and buying preferences: Certain items may be popular in one market and not others, so it pays to follow trends when determining which products to recommend in new markets.  
  • Local language, vocabulary, spelling, and messaging: Even small errors can have a big impact on your site’s credibility, so ensure you’re using tools smart enough to localize all aspects of your shop’s copy and product descriptions. 
  • Time zone and seasonal differences: While it’s swim season in one part of the world, it’s parka season somewhere else, so displaying the right items will optimize sales.  
  • Necessary taxes, tariffs, and duties: Buyer costs may affect how you collect payments and how competitively you can price certain items, so it’s important to be aware of these requirements.   
  • Shipping and return expectations: International shipping and returns can get tricky, particularly with duties and taxes, so it’s important to establish expectations and educate customers on your policies and timeframes. 
  • Illustration of people on their phone buying items with different currency

    Common pitfalls to avoid when entering new markets

    Understandably, many stores want to get into new markets as quickly as possible, but rushing can cause you to run into pitfalls. Consider these common mistakes and how to avoid them: 

  • Not understanding market differences:Anticipate and avoid challenges by examining how new markets differ from your current customers. Properly setting up your storefronts now will save you time and money in the future.
  • Not offering the payment methods local buyers want or need to use:Researching preferred payment methods in new markets will make it more likely that shoppers who want to buy will follow through on purchases. 
  • Translations that sound silly or don’t make sense:Customers may be wary of sites that haven’t invested in proper translation and language tools.  
  • Search results aren’t localized or personalized. Search results and recommendations should reflect shoppers’ intent and preferences, both generally and specifically.
  • Ecommerce tech stack isn’t integrated: Your ecommerce tools should work together to create a better user experience. They should also sync data to provide you with actionable data and meaningful analytics. 
  • Not localizing domains, product offerings, and site messaging: Shoppers should be able to see that they’ve landed on a site that understands them and caters to their preferences.  
  • The more you can zero in on the behaviors and preferences of your particular buyers in each market, the more successful your site will be. That level of customization would be impossible to implement manually, but the right tools will help you create personalized experiences and navigate cultural, economic, and regulatory challenges. 

    Smart searchandising (search + merchandising) is one way online retailers are presenting search results for customers. Shoppers see results that are likely to appeal to them first based on their purchase history and other information.

    Multi-language capabilities support Shopify Markets expansion

    Seventy-six percent of customers want product information in their own language, and 75% say they’re more likely to purchase from a brand again if customer support is provided in their language. 

    Illustration with a phone headset saying "hello" in a number of different languages. A headline notes that 75% are more likely to purchase again if customer support is in their language.
    Source: CSA Research Survey of 8,709 Consumers in 29 Countries 

    But developing multi-language ecommerce sites requires more than simply plugging descriptions into a translation app. Shopify Markets allows stores to sell globally from a single dashboard, using international pricing and market-specific domains.

    As a certified Shopify Plus application, Findify natively integrates with Shopify Markets. Shopify reports that 35% of its traffic comes from international visitors, and Findify’s multi-language capabilities help support expansion. 

    Illustrations of three people with shopping bags plus one without any, shrugging. A headline notes 76% want product information in their own language.
    Source: CSA Research Survey of 8,709 Consumers in 29 Countries 

    Findify understands language complexity, and our linguistic experts have designed the search and personalization tools to manage the nuances of language and importance of localized merchandising for shoppers. The native integration between Findify and the Shopify platform supports market expansion by providing search and merchandising features like personalized recommendations and smart collections in the languages shoppers want. 

    Findify currently supports 24 languages, with new ones being added regularly. This capability improves search, merchandising, and product personalization to optimize the performance of Shopify stores trying to scale.

    Choosing the right tools for international growth

    Since tools are the key to today’s online retail success, some planning is required to achieve the right tech stack for international ecommerce. To ensure your Shopify site can handle increased transactions and international traffic, look for tools that work together and can scale as your business expands. 

    Advanced, AI-driven search and merchandising tools, in particular, help your store connect with buyers and vice versa. Examples of popular, effective Shopify integrations include HubSpot CRM, Stripe for payments, Quickbooks for accounting, and Findify for search and merchandising. So, how do you find ecommerce website solutions that are smart and scalable enough to facilitate international market expansion? Features to look for include:

  • Intuitive interface: Tools should be easy for developers, designers, and managers to use as often as needed.   
  • Fully customizable: It should be easy to make sure your storefront represents your brand and suits the way your customers want to shop. 
  • AI-driven capabilities: AI can improve product discovery and enable natural language processing (NLP) for more human search results. 
  • Will your tech stack support your store’s global expansion?

    Here’s a checklist to help you choose the essential elements of a robust tech stack that’s ready to support the international expansion of your store on Shopify or another platform, like Neto, Norce, or BigCommerce.

    Create engaging localized experiences

    Some parts of your tech stack will play a larger role than others in international expansion. For example, search and merchandising solutions are crucial in helping ecommerce businesses engage with a specific market. 

    Illustration of shopping on smartphone accessing in front of a map

    AI-powered search and merchandising tools are especially useful for driving expansion in new markets because they enhance the shopping experience, improve product discoverability, and tailor offerings to support local shopping preferences. Real-time personalized search, product recommendations, and smart collections in shoppers’ languages help build connections and stickier customer relationships. These are some ways you can engage with customers in a new market and create better shopping experiences:

  • Localized search capabilities: Ensure shoppers don’t see search results for products that aren’t available to them, which creates a negative experience. Shoppers can search for items in terms familiar to them and are more likely to see products that are locally popular.  
  • Personalized merchandising: Using customer data, the tool’s AI continues to learn about local preferences and trends and makes individual recommendations.  
  • Dynamic promotions: Smart tools optimize offers for different markets, considering local holidays, events, seasonality, etc.  
  • Inventory management: With insights into which products are more likely to sell in different regions, manage local inventory more easily and effectively. 
  • Data and insights: Gathering data about customer behavior by market allows you to optimize your store and marketing and sales campaigns. 
  • Expanding your store to reach new customers, languages, cultures, and continents is an ambitious effort. It requires new goals, strategies, and tools. Fortunately, technology has never been better, with the ability to simplify and automate tasks. The challenge is choosing the right set of tools.

    Findify and Shopify logos

    Better discovery with Findify’s native Shopify integration

    Findify’s updated Shopify app significantly improves integration with websites built with Shopify. Findify’s robust search capabilities, merchandising, and machine learning (ML)-driven recommendations can work directly within Shopify-built ecommerce sites.

    Shopify merchants can quickly access and launch the Findify app from the Shopify app store. Using Shopify Liquid Front-End–a versatile and easy-to-use templating language–developers and designers can customize their Shopify stores, creating dynamic, personalized, and visually engaging ecommerce customer experiences.

    The app is optimized for Shopify ecommerce and provides: 

  • Easy integration
  • Storefront customization
  • A consistent search and discovery experience  
  • Intuitive and accessible design features  
  • Improved SEO and site performance  
  • Ongoing support and updates  
  • If you’re planning to expand your ecommerce site, start by evaluating your current technology stack and its ability to scale for global sales. Then discover how Findify’s fully native Shopify app makes it easier to expand your business internationally.

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