Scaling a National Online Store for International Markets

Scaling a website for an international market can be tricky, here are a few things I have learned from the journey.

I always recommend to my clients when launching an online store to focus on a nation-wide launch rather than trying to blow up the site straight away launching to an international market. This is because for most ecommerce websites besides drop-shipping stores mostly, the amount of work that is required launch an international store is significantly harder and riskier than a nationwide launch. Here are a few tips and things to make sure you get right when making the shift from selling in just one country to the entire world.

Location Detection & Currency Conversion

Using Geolocation plugins you can approximate your users location to show them automatically the correct prices in their currency, any taxes that are charged in their country and the correct shipping prices for them. Geolocating customers locations can be very powerful and make the shopping experience a lot easier for your customers to go through the checkout process, the only downside to geolocation is that depending on how it is done with your chosen plugin or through WooCommerce, Geolocation can affect your seo by generating a slug at the end of every url to bust any caching on your website. I prefer to use javascript geolocation instead, however this does mean that you cannot use any html page caching, if you have spent the countless hours to optimise your websites load times and have asset optimisation in place as well as a lightweight theme this shouldn’t be an issue. For the largest ecommerce store I manage I have wp-rocket enabled to optimise css and javascript but use an extra plugin from WP Rocket which disables page caching. For some reason WP Rocket doesn’t offer an option to disable caching within the plugin

Shipping Fees & Taxes

One of the biggest turn offs for a potential customer once they have found a product they want and have proceeded to the checkout is seeing a huge fee tacked on for shipping. If you can, I would try to add the cost of shipping into the product price while staying competitive to avoid this shock to the customer. Have a look at larger competitors are doing in your industry to see what works for them. Spending the time to research different shipping companies and find the best contractor to ship your products internationally at an affordable cost.

Website Speed

Website speed is one of those crucial things that can take a lot of time to get right but is defiantly worth the expense even if you need to get an expert to optimise your site. One thing is making a website load quickly in a single country, it is another for a website to load quickly all over the world without spending hundreds of dollars of multiple servers and a complicated load balancing setup. Using a free CDN such as Cloudflare should be enough for most low traffic sites. Personally I combine this with Site ground hosting based in Singapore so that I have a server location close enough to all major countries.