Looking to scale your Shopify Store internationally? As certified Shopify partners, we’ve worked with a wide range of clients on Shopify and Shopify Plus. And so, we’ve looked into how you can efficiently and effectively scale your Shopify store with best practice SEO, comparing both the newly released Shopify Markets for all Plus stores and the more traditional approach via additional expansion stores.
Utilising Shopify Markets
- Shopify markets are very new to all Plus stores. The main benefit is that it lets you scale your primary store into as many locations as you want without the extra cost of paying for a new Shopify instance each and every time (this is costly).
- OOTB with markets configures your hreflang setup (for international targeting), which means you don’t need to endeavour on a large development project to have this implemented across your stores.
- All your content is duplicated across your stores based on the primary language (e.g. in your instance, all new market stores would be in UK English).
- You can easily scale your brand based on demand and create a uniformed folder structure with .com/cc for each, e.g. example.com/us – this is limitless.
- Due to the limitless and sub-folder setup, all of your authority for all your market sites is shared across the domain as a whole, rather than having separate entities.
- As it is still quite new, there will likely be some bugs and issues that you might have to wait a while for Shopify to fix.
- Due to only having a primary site, e.g. example.com, you can only have x1 robots.txt file (rather than having 1 per new site). The issue with this is that you aren’t able to restrict any crawling or content on any individual market site without restricting it on all the sites.
- Since you only have 1 robots.txt, the sitemap.xml file (the bible for search engines when they first land on your site) has only your primary site URLs – you would need to customise this with development time so that you could create a unique sitemap.xml per site.
- If you are branching into the US, you cannot individually localise each new market site, as they’re all based on the primary website by default. So, this means you also can’t individually localise the content across your market stores based on the unique colloquialisms each market has.
- There are some tax-based issues that have been flagged as of late – this is because when you use markets, you use their currency system, and, naturally, they also take a cut out of each order.
Set Up a New Store on a Subdomain (Expansion Store)
- You have full control and ownership of a wholly unique website.
- You are able to completely customise your approach to your new website as there are no constraints to on-page content.
- You are able to have completely new tech stacks for each of your websites which may bode well depending on your market – as you may need certain apps and third-party tools for each of your market sites.
- You have a unique sitemap.xml file for each of your websites which means you can create unique Google Search Console profiles which allow for diagnostics.
- You have a unique robots.txt file allowing us to limit crawling to areas of the site should we wish to.
- You can completely localise your on-site content and have different on-page templates to cater for different cultural shopping differences.
- You have the ability to stock products uniquely without them being needed on all stores.
- You are able to price your products accordingly, as well as be able to apply relevant taxes & move away from Shopify’s own payment gateway.
- You will need development time to configure your new website, which ultimately is costly – though you can build this in line with your primary domain if you do not wish to uniquely create another website – this would reduce cost.
- You will need development time for international targeting enhancements that aren’t part of the OOTB setup.
- You will need to re-configure some technical enhancements that aren’t existent on the site as part of OOTB or as part of your primary site, e.g. breadcrumbs.
- You will have to manage another store – which will be more resource for your internal team.
- You will need to manage multiple inventories.
- You aren’t able to utilise the sub-folder setup, e.g. example.com/us, which means you will need to acquire (if you don’t have already) a new domain, e.g. us.example.com.
- You will need to work on development enhancements to ensure users land correctly on each of your stores, which will require development time.
- You will be launching a brand new site (in Google’s eyes) with no authority – this will ultimately mean it takes longer to reach performance.
Though this is an early synopsis based on our initial interaction with Shopify Markets, we hope it offers good insights that will help & assist you when making your decision to scale internationally.