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1. Shopify Markets: Overview

Shopify Markets vs. Expansion Stores for selling internationally

In today's globalized world, the ability to sell internationally has become a necessity for many businesses. Whether you are an established company looking to expand your customer base or a budding entrepreneur with dreams of conquering the global market, finding the right platform to sell your products is crucial. Two popular options that offer unique advantages are Shopify Markets and expansion stores. In this article, we will explore the basics of both options, compare their features, and evaluate their pros and cons. By the end, you'll be equipped to decide which option is best for your business.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Shopify Markets provides an integrated feature for international selling tools within the Shopify platform, offering localized shopping experiences with localized marketing, local payment methods, centralized management, and automated tax calculations.

  • However, it may present limitations in customization, potential performance issues, and a dependency on the Shopify sellers' ecosystem.

  • Expansion stores involve setting up separate Shopify stores for different regions. These allow greater market share, brand recognition, and deep market customization but come with increased operational complexity, potential inconsistency in brand experience, and higher initial costs.

  • Both options integrate seamlessly with popular shipping carriers, offer powerful analytics tools, and give access to the Shopify ecosystem's resources.

  • Gelato further simplifies the global ecommerce space, allowing businesses to sell custom products worldwide with ease and profitability, thanks to its extensive production network and platform integrations.

Shopify Markets: Overview


What are Shopify Markets?

Shopify Markets is a built-in feature of the Shopify store or platform that facilitates international trade. It allows merchants to sell products in multiple countries or regions from a single store, tailoring products, prices, and content based on the customer's fulfillment locations.

Evaluating the pros and cons of Shopify Markets

Shopify Markets is a cross-border management tool by Shopify designed to simplify cross-border selling for ecommerce businesses. Like any tool or platform, it has its pros and cons. Here's a detailed evaluation:

  • Localized shopping experience: Shopify sellers' best practices encourage merchants to create localized customer shopping experiences. This includes local pricing, multiple languages, payment methods, and duty and import taxes. This personalization can boost conversions as customers feel the shopping experience is tailored to them.

  • Ease of use: One of Shopify's strongest attributes is its user-friendly interface, which extends to Shopify Markets. It simplifies selling internationally, making it easier for new and small businesses to reach global markets.

  • Centralized dashboard: Merchants can manage multiple storefronts and international markets from a single dashboard. This centralization makes it easier to keep track of different ecommerce market metrics and makes operations more streamlined.

  • Automated tax and duty calculation: One of the significant challenges of international sales is understanding and complying with local taxes, duties and import taxes. Shopify Markets automatically calculates these based on the customer's location, which can reduce errors and potential legal issues.

  • Currency conversion: With Shopify Payments, merchants can offer their products in local currencies, leading to a higher conversion rate. It also provides guaranteed rates, reducing the risk of fluctuating exchange rates.

  • Integration with the Shopify ecosystem: If you're already using Shopify, incorporating Shopify Markets is straightforward. This compatibility ensures that you can leverage other Shopify tools and plugins seamlessly.

  • Cost: Using Shopify Markets may come at an additional cost, depending on the Shopify plan or the features you need. For some small businesses, this cost might be prohibitive.

  • Limited customization: While Shopify is user-friendly, it can sometimes limit the level of customization a merchant might want, especially for unique market strategies or complex international selling strategies.

  • Not a substitute for local market knowledge: While Shopify Markets simplifies many aspects of international selling, merchants still need to have or acquire a deep understanding of the local markets they are entering. The platform cannot provide insights into cultural nuances, consumer behavior, and local competitors.

  • Potential performance issues: Serving content to multiple countries might sometimes lead to slower website load times, affecting user experience and SEO.

  • Reliance on Shopify: By committing to Shopify Markets, merchants might rely heavily on the Shopify ecosystem. If Shopify experiences downtime or other issues, it can significantly impact a merchant's international operations.

  • Some regions might still be unsupported: Despite its comprehensive approach, Shopify Markets might not support every country or region. Merchants should verify if their target markets are well-served by the platform.

While Shopify Markets offers a simplified solution for cross-border ecommerce, businesses must weigh these pros and cons against their specific needs and goals. Conducting a thorough assessment before choosing Shopify for small businesses.

Expansion Stores: Overview and key considerations


What are Expansion Stores?

Expansion stores involve setting up separate Shopify stores for different regions or countries. Each store is tailored to the needs and preferences of that specific market.

Evaluating pros and cons of Expansion Stores

  • Increased market share: Opening more stores in different locations can help businesses capture a larger portion of the market, leading to higher sales and revenue.

  • Brand recognition: The more locations a brand has, the more visible it becomes. This can increase brand recognition and trust among consumers.

  • Diversified risk: By spreading operations across multiple locations, businesses can reduce the risk of potential economic or other local adversities that might affect a single location.

  • Economies of scale: Expansion can lead to economies of scale in procurement, marketing, and other operational areas, thus potentially lowering per-unit costs.

  • Local market adaptation: Businesses can tailor their offerings to suit local tastes, preferences, and demands, leading to a better market fit and potentially higher sales.

  • Real estate appreciation: Owning physical store locations in prime areas can be an investment, as these properties might appreciate in value over time.

  • High initial costs: Expansion requires significant capital expenditure. The initial costs for purchasing real estate, leasing, or setting up the new store can be increased.

  • Operational complexity: Managing multiple stores increases the complexity of operations. This might require a more sophisticated management system, more staff, and additional training.

  • Inconsistent brand experience: There's a risk that different stores might offer varying levels of service or product quality, leading to an unpredictable brand experience for customers.

  • Market saturation: Expanding too quickly or without proper research can lead to market saturation. This can result in cannibalization, where new stores remove sales from existing ones instead of capturing new customers.

  • Increased overheads: While economies of scale can bring down costs, overheads related to managing multiple locations, such as utilities, rent, and staff salaries, will undoubtedly increase.

  • Dependency on local market conditions: If a region faces economic downturns, political instability, or any other adversity, the stores in that area might suffer. Expansion thus requires a deep understanding of local market conditions.

  • Dilution of focus: Spreading resources across multiple new locations can divert attention from the core operations or existing profitable stores.

While expansion stores can pave the path to growth and increased profits, they come with challenges. A thorough market research, planning, and careful execution are essential to make this international selling strategy successful.

Similarities between Shopify Markets and Expansion Stores


Shopify has introduced Shopify Markets and Expansion Stores to support businesses in their quest to expand and maximize their online reach. Although they serve unique purposes, they also have notable similarities. Here, we will discuss the commonalities between these two features.

Unified brand experience

Both Shopify Markets and expansion stores are designed to provide a consistent and unified brand experience for businesses. Whether you're targeting new geographical markets or launching a spin-off store, maintaining brand consistency is crucial. These features ensure that regardless of the store or market, customers get a consistent brand feel and experience.

Centralized management

One of the most significant advantages of using Shopify is the centralized management system. Both the Markets and expansion stores operate under the main Shopify dashboard. This means businesses can oversee all their operations, from inventory management to customer relations, from one central point, making the process streamlined and efficient.

Customized local offerings

Shopify understands the importance of localization in today's global market. Both Markets and expansion stores provide businesses with tools to customize their offerings based on local preferences, culture, and market trends. This can include product assortments, pricing strategies, and even promotional campaigns tailored for a specific region or audience.

Seamless integration

Shopify's ecosystem is designed for seamless integration. Whether you're using Shopify Markets to target new geographical regions or expansion stores for specific niches, they easily integrate with the platform's apps, payment gateways, and other features. This ensures that the operations run smoothly, and businesses can leverage the full power of the Shopify ecosystem.


Both Shopify Markets and expansion stores are built with scalability in mind. As businesses grow and evolve, these features allow for easy scaling up or down based on demand, market trends, and other variables. This flexibility ensures that businesses can adapt to changing circumstances without major disruptions or overhauls.

Shared resources

While each market or expansion store might cater to a unique audience, businesses can share resources like product images, descriptions, and other assets across their various storefronts. This not only reduces redundancy but also ensures consistency in the information presented to customers.

Dedicated support

Shopify's commitment to supporting its merchants is evident in both its Markets and expansion stores. Businesses can expect dedicated support, tutorials, and resources to help them navigate the intricacies of expanding their online presence, ensuring they make the most of these features.

Which is right for your business?


Consider the following factors to make the right choice for your business.

  • Business size and resources: If you're a smaller business with limited resources, the simplicity of Shopify Markets may be more appealing. On the other hand, larger businesses with the capacity to manage multiple stores might benefit from the flexibility of expansion stores.

  • Degree of localization: For businesses that want deep customization and localization for international customers, expansion stores are the way to go. If minor tweaks and adjustments are sufficient, Shopify Markets should suffice.

  • Inventory considerations: Expansion stores offer better control if you have distinct regional inventory needs. For centralized inventory management, Shopify Markets is more suitable.

  • Budgetary constraints: Operating multiple expansion stores can be costlier, considering separate subscription fees, apps, or third-party integrations for each online store. Conversely, Shopify Markets allows for internationalization within your existing store's cost structure.

While both Shopify Markets and Expansion Stores offer robust solutions for selling internationally, the right choice heavily depends on your business's unique needs and goals. Assess your resources, growth plans, and market strategies before deciding. Remember, flexibility and adaptability are key in the dynamic world of ecommerce. Choose a design that fits your current situation and aligns with your vision for global expansion.

Let your Shopify business scale new heights with Gelato

Gelato has been a game-changer in ecommerce because of its customization solutions, especially for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to sell custom products globally. 

Gelato has partnerships with over 100 print facilities in 34 countries. This massive network ensures that your products are produced closer to your customers, resulting in faster deliveries and reduced shipping costs. With Gelato, you can effortlessly integrate your store with platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Etsy. This allows you to automate order fulfillment, ensuring a hands-free and efficient operation.

From apparel and posters to mugs to wall art and phone cases, Gelato offers various products. This flexibility lets businesses cater to diverse markets and customer preferences.

Gelato's support team is always ready to assist with any queries or issues, ensuring smooth operations for your business.

The global ecommerce space is ripe with opportunity, but it can be daunting for businesses to navigate logistics, shipping, and production. Gelato simplifies this process, making it easy and profitable to sell custom products worldwide. Whether you're a seasoned business or a budding entrepreneur, Gelato offers a pathway to global growth without the traditional hassles. Sign up for Gelato today.


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