Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asked for advice on structuring international setups by a number of Shopify Plus retailers – with that advice differing depending on objectives and operational restraints. 

What is Shopify Multi-Currency

Earlier this year, Shopify released a multi-currency feature for Plus users, which allows retailers to display multiple currencies on the front-end and then take payment in those currencies. Currently, this feature is quite limited but the hope is that it will eventually be improved to support local price lists and more currencies.

What is multi-store

Multi-store describes the idea of having multiple independent Shopify stores for targeting local countries or regions – this gives you full control over the content and general look and feel and allows retailers to fully localise the experience.

Multi-Currency vs Multi-Store – Use Cases and Issues

Overall, the decision to choose between multi-currency and creating independent stores will depend on what you’re looking to achieve, both short-term and long-term – I’ve provided a breakdown and comparison below.

Shopify Plus Multi-Currency

Shopify’s multi-currency feature allows you to very quickly introduce additional currencies that are presented to users based on their IP or having changed currency from a dropdown. This currency will be displayed on the front-end and (assuming you’re using the right third parties) all other areas of the site.

You can also take payment in this currency. The most common issue with multi-currency is that you can’t control the pricing / upload separate price lists (the pricing is based on a fixed exchange rate), which is a really common requirement for international retailers. You also don’t have the same level of flexibility around things like shipping, taxes, payment options etc – although you are able to do a lot based on the shipping address. Another issue is marketing, as you’re not fully localising the experience.

Then, lastly, there aren’t too many currencies available at present, with the only options being UK pounds, Australian dollars, Canadian dollars, US dollars, Euros, Danish Krone, Hong Kong dollars, Japanese Yen, New Zealand dollars, Singapore dollars and Swedish krona. However, this will likely change over time.

You also need to think about reporting around multi-currency – e.g. which currency are you pushing into the dataLayer for Google Analytics or other analytics platforms and how are you passing the data to other systems.

If you’re not using mainstream technology partners, you’ll also struggle to get multi-currency working across things like search, product recommendations, dynamic offers etc. This is something that needs to be considered and scoped out before you select partners and launch multi-currency.

Creating multiple stores in Shopify Plus

Creating independent Shopify clone stores represents a more scalable approach for internationalising – allowing the merchant to create local pricing and also merchandise the store independently for the target market. The store would also be more effective from a marketing perspective, being able to rank locally organically and have an independent shopping feed etc.

You’re also able to present local payment options (e.g. Giropay, Klarna invoicing or Sofort in Germany), shipping options, duties and taxes etc straight away. 

There are various other benefits to going down this approach, but there’s undoubtedly a much bigger admin headache, with Shopify not having a proper multi-store architecture to allow for global management of data, third parties etc. This needs to be considered carefully when setting up clone stores for international markets – I wrote a guide about this topic HERE.

A few other considerations for setting up multiple stores include management and costs around apps, management of data (e.g. making changes across each store manually) and setting up things like hreflang and managing mis-directed traffic. It’s often worth looking at using a sync’ing app and apps that can publish changes across multiple stores to support this – we also often recommend using a PIM for international Shopify stores.

This post is designed to be quite top-level – if you have any other questions on multi-store vs multi-currency with Shopify Plus, feel free to reach out.