In the UK, growing your online store and expanding into new international markets is more important than ever. However, it can be challenging to deliver the same high-quality experience outside of the UK, especially if you’re dealing with overseas shipping, currency conversion, or any of the other concerns that come with expanding out of the UK. 

Learn more about how expanding to new markets can improve your bottom line in the Future of Merchant Growth

By partnering with an established ecommerce platform like Shopify UK, ecommerce merchants can take their brand global without the added stress.

In this blog, we’ll cover:

  • Why international ecommerce can be challenging—but rewarding
  • The key features of a successful global ecommerce business
  • How to leverage Shopify UK to for international growth
  • The most useful Shopify UK integrations for returns management

Let’s start by looking at why selling to shoppers in the US, the EU, or further abroad can be more complicated, but still very worth your time.

Why international ecommerce can be challenging—but rewarding

Whether you’re new to ecommerce or have been running your Shopify online store in the UK for years, you know that one of the golden rules of retail is to sell as much as possible. By selling to countries and expanding your customer base outside of just the UK, you can increase your overall sales figures and your profit. Simple, right?

The difficulty comes when you have to figure out how to ship quickly and efficiently to shoppers who are overseas. Handling returns can get even more complicated, particularly if your online store has to work with different pricing and currency conversions. It can also be harder to maintain quality control when you’re operating in countries further away from your UK-based HQ.

Small business owners in the UK may think these extra steps are not worth taking to grow their global audience, because the risk is too high.

This is when partnering with an experienced ecommerce platform can make all the difference. Instead of having to go at it alone, using various apps and online tools, merchants with a Shopify UK account can gain access to all the automation and functionality of a global retail powerhouse, while still maintaining their individual Shopify UK store.

Read more: How to optimize ecommerce customer support with automation

The key features of a successful global ecommerce business

Shoppers outside of the UK want the same things as your local shoppers do: quality products, an easy checkout, fast and affordable shipping, and an easy returns process.

International checkout should be as simple as your UK checkout. By accepting a range of different payment methods and credit cards, online stores based in the UK can demonstrate that they value their shoppers’ preferences at the point of sale. To really win them over, consider offering transparent currency conversions from the pound to other major currencies, like the Euro or USD.

Then there’s shipping. Sending products outside of the UK or setting up international dropshipping is likely to cost your brand more money, so it makes sense to charge more for further distances. For instance, a shopper buying one of your products in California might need to pay higher shipping than a shopper based in Paris would, based on shipping distance alone. However you structure your shipping costs, the key is to make sure this pricing feels transparent and fair to each shopper, regardless of their location. 

Transparency and ease of use are also key for returns. A smooth customer support experience is critical for any successful online business, no matter where it’s based. Sometimes ecommerce purchases don’t work out and shoppers need to request a return. For international returns, shoppers may expect a more complicated process. If a UK-based online store can make their global returns as easy as a local one, shoppers around the world are much more likely to come back and buy again—even if that first purchase didn’t work out.

How to leverage Shopify UK for international growth

UK merchants may think they need to be a giant retailer to successfully sell to a global market, but this isn’t true. While it can require lots of software development to achieve the kind of functionality that today’s shoppers want, small business owners in the UK don’t have to build this all on their own.

This is why building your ecommerce store with Shopify UK can be so valuable. Through the Shopify platform, sellers can access best-in-class tools without needing to build them from scratch. Shopify has a dedicated Shopify UK platform for its UK-based ecommerce merchants, but it operates at a global level—meaning it understands how to successfully sell to many countries at once. With Shopify payments and Shopify dropshipping, online shops in the UK can leverage automation throughout their operations, both domestically and abroad.

Then there’s the Shopify Markets functionality, which lets Shopify stores all over the world access an all-in-one solution that localizes storefronts, calculates duties and taxes, and complies with cross-border regulations automatically. This makes it just as easy for each of your shoppers to buy from your ecommerce website as it is for them to buy from a local seller, or even a major global competitor like Amazon or eBay.

On the backend, Shopify UK provides a single dashboard that gives in-depth visibility over all sales and inventory. This ensures that even as your UK-based business’s operations expand globally, managing multiple markets is as easy for online businesses in the UK as before.

The most useful Shopify integrations for returns management

Once your store has utilized all the built-in features of the Shopify UK website, you can turn to the site’s integration partners and Shopify apps to really boost international performance.

Returns management is a clear area where ecommerce merchants may want a hand, especially for orders placed outside of the UK. Shopify offers a number of useful tools to support online returns management, but a robust solution like Loop can really offer valuable support when it comes to returns of all kinds.

Regardless of where your shop is based, a next-level returns process should include the option to initiate an exchange at the point of return, rather than having to wait for the original item to be received by the online store. This Loop solution is particularly valuable for international shoppers, as the shipping times will likely be longer and customers won’t want to wait.

Other features include offering access to instant store credit or gift cards, which can save merchants from handling international transaction fees and refunds. In return, the shopper gets to buy a new item immediately.

With the right technical support through a partner like Shopify UK, it’s clear that growing your business internationally doesn’t need to be a headache—just an opportunity.

Want to expand your online store and improve your returns in global markets? Get a demo of Loop today.