HomeBlogGoing global with Shopify: A comparison of markets and expansion stores

Going Global with Shopify: A Comparison of Markets and Expansion Stores

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Recently, securing international clients has seemed like a mere fantasy, reserved solely for corporate giants. However, today's business landscape has remarkably changed, and the potential customer base is more globally diverse than ever before.

Shopify proposes two main options – Multiple Shopify Expansion Stores and Shopify markets. Since its introduction, Shopify Markets has been consistently evolving and refining its capabilities. The continuous evolution of Shopify Markets presents the challenge of launching new Expansion Stores. It's obvious that Shopify Markets is actively working on enhancing its features and trying to resolve the existing concerns that make brands explore Expansion Stores. However, Expansion Stores are expected to remain a good option, particularly in specific circumstances.

The choice revolves around the distinct needs and framework of each brand, as it’s hard to determine a clear superiority between these two options. In this article, we offer a comparison of these two alternatives to guide you in selecting the optimal global sales strategy route.

Key advantages of the solutions

In the table below, brace yourself for a close encounter with the game-changing attributes that will undergo scrutiny between Shopify Markets and Multiple Shopify Expansion Stores. Prepare to reveal the triumphant contender for each option. And if your appetite for insight craves more, hold tight as we dive into the comparison.

When your brand maintains legal establishments in various countries, it becomes imperative to adhere to the specific local prerequisites of each nation. This entails collecting sales and taxes in alignment with the respective regulations. However, it's worth highlighting that, at present, Shopify permits the linkage of only one legal entity per store. However, there are plans to make adjustments to this approach in the near future.

For instance, if your brand boasts legal entities in both the US and France, the necessity arises to create two distinct stores on Shopify. This strategic approach ensures precise tracking and collection of sales for each distinct market. Ultimately, this practice guarantees adherence to the distinct legal and tax obligations that accompany each individual country.

In the realm of IT infrastructure, the decision between Shopify Markets and Expansion Stores carries significant weight. In this regard, Shopify Markets shines by effortlessly enabling tailored shopping experiences.

Shopify Markets empower businesses to establish specialized domains or subfolders for each distinct market, a boon for SEO optimization. Through Markets, brands can craft subfolders, customize URL segments, and seamlessly translate and adapt content to cater to specific markets. This high degree of SEO customization substantially bolsters product and service visibility on search engines, yielding heightened organic traffic.

In contrast, Expansion Stores might pose certain IT management challenges. Integrating with platforms like Google Merchant Center, implementing tags for multilingual SEO, handling robots.txt files, and synchronizing stock levels may demand extra effort and coordination across disparate stores.

In a nutshell, while Shopify Plus Expansion Stores might entail IT coordination hurdles, Shopify Markets offer the advantage of seamless localization and streamlined content adaptation. The SEO enhancement facilitated by Markets via subfolders, URL customization, and content translation further solidifies brands' online presence and visibility in their target markets.

Operational standpoint

From an operational standpoint, opting for an Expansion Store Shopify mirrors the establishment of an entirely new independent store. This entails distinct sections for themes, products, orders, marketing, analytics, and more. If your brand boasts specialized teams for various markets, the Shopify Plus Expansion Store route proves advantageous, granting each team dedicated focus and access to their specific market dynamics.

Conversely, when a single team oversees all market management, multiple Expansion stores might lead to redundant operations and diminished efficiency. Conversely, leveraging Shopify Markets fosters streamlined operations across markets, eliminating the necessity to replicate products, information, or content across multiple stores.

While Shopify Markets present operational streamlining, they may exhibit certain limitations in flexibility. For instance, uniformity in theme and landing pages is mandatory across diverse markets. This constraint implies that a fashion brand targeting both Spain and Argentina through Shopify Markets cannot simultaneously promote summer products in Spain and winter products in Argentina.

Lastly, a notable advantage of employing Shopify Markets is the access to analytics for each selling region, all within a unified store. This facilitates a comprehensive overview of sales data, empowering brands to seamlessly scrutinize performance across diverse markets.

Localized payments

Can you freely choose between Shopify Markets and Expansion Stores across the globe? Unfortunately, the answer is no. To harness the full advantages of Shopify Markets and engage in sales using local currencies, brands are required to leverage Shopify Payments. Nevertheless, it's crucial to keep in mind that Shopify Payments is currently accessible in a limited range of countries.

For the latest updates regarding Shopify Payments' availability in various regions, we strongly advise consulting the official source. As a general overview, Shopify Payments, which facilitates the receipt of payments in local currencies through Shopify Markets, is presently accessible in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, and Japan.

If Shopify Payments isn't accessible in your country and you lack a legal entity within the aforementioned countries or regions, the only avenue to activate payments in a different currency is by establishing a new Expansion Store.

Geolocation solutions

Historically, the dilemma of redirecting customers between stores weighed heavily on the choice between Expansion Stores and Shopify Markets. However, DigitalSuits has transformed this challenge. Through our team, brands can seamlessly link multiple Expansion stores and Shopify Markets, redirecting customers to the appropriate shopping experiences based on their location and preferences.

Supply chain management

For brands operating multiple warehouses across the globe, the store expansion strategy often emerges as the most viable option. Currently, Shopify Markets lacks the capability to establish rules that facilitate inventory management based on the nearest warehouse. However, Shopify has announced its intention to address this limitation in the near future.

Imagine a scenario where a brand maintains warehouses in both Europe and the US, equipped with global shipping capabilities. Should an order be placed for a black T-shirt by a customer in France, but the specific product is unavailable in the European warehouse, the customer can still proceed with the purchase. Yet, the item would need to be dispatched from the US. Regrettably, the existing framework does not accommodate the restriction of such instances. Consequently, fulfilling the order from the US rather than the local warehouse could result in diminished margins due to heightened shipping expenses.

Regional market constraints

As of 2023, Shopify Markets will exclusively facilitate the establishment of markets for entire countries, omitting the capacity to create markets tailored to specific regions within a nation. This limitation proves particularly consequential for regions situated beyond the mainland, like Hawaii in the US, the Canary Islands in Spain, or Reunion Island in France, each characterized by distinctive conditions and prerequisites.

In such instances, brands are confined to limiting shipping solely to these distinct regions. If the aim is to provide tailored choices or experiences unique to these regions, Shopify Markets might not align with the intended objectives. In such cases, embracing an Expansion Store emerges as the sole viable recourse, accommodating the precise needs and subtleties of these localized markets.

This breakthrough functionality implies that location concerns need no longer dictate the choice between Shopify Expansion Stores and Shopify Markets. Regardless of the selected setup, our team provides a streamlined solution that guarantees a seamless and personalized shopping journey for customers.

Apps harmony

Since the inception of Shopify Markets in August 2021, several apps in the Shopify App Store have grappled with limitations when integrating with Shopify Markets. These limitations may stem from Shopify's constraints or the expenses associated with adapting apps to support these global selling features. While these constraints are projected to diminish over time, as of 2023, it can be inferred that Expansion stores will offer more robust app integration.

Wrapping up

Looking into the future, the implementation of Shopify Markets is expected to exhibit a higher growth rate compared to Expansion Stores in the coming years. Shopify Expansion Stores will remain tailored to the specific needs of brands, as discussed earlier. This can be attributed to the straightforward setup provided by Shopify Markets. Through its user-friendly interface and streamlined processes, businesses can swiftly establish a presence in new markets and initiate sales in local currencies. The ease and accessibility of setting up Shopify Markets make it an appealing option for brands seeking efficient global expansion. As a result, the adoption and utilization of Shopify Markets are likely to accelerate, facilitating the growth and global reach of businesses.

Reach out to us, and our dedicated Shopify development team will guide you through crafting the perfect Shopify solution for your needs.

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