At some point in the future, maybe the not too distant future, you’ll be thinking about taking over the world. Yes, that’s right, world domination. At that point, you’ll be hoping that the foundations you’ve laid will support this growth. You’ll want to have multi-language, multi-currency and multi-warehouse shipping at your fingertips!
Good news is, if you’ve built on WordPress and WooCommerce, there are solutions to building a WooCommerce multi country store.
This means you can take your WordPress website from just being a brochure website, to an organic traffic grabbing content publishing site, to an affiliate product catalogue site, onward to a fully functioning eCommerce site in your primary country, and then even further onward to a multi-national eCommerce site that serves content and products relevant to each geographic region.
That’s some serious scalability.
I’m going to give you some pointers and some resources showing you how it’s possible to reach those upper echelons of eCommerce world domination with your WordPress and WooCommerce eCommerce site.
In doing so, I’ll point you in the right direction, hopefully pointing you away from the wrong direction.
Just remember the principle; your website is built on a domain that has authority. If you add more domains, you need to START AGAIN in building their authority. When expanding, you need to leverage the authority of your existing domain to maximise the return on your investment. Or; be prepared to invest ALL OVER AGAIN.
Using WooCommerce For International Ecommerce – Multi-Currency, Multi-Lingual, Multi-Warehouse, Multi-Location
Table of Contents
This article contains affiliate links which means we may earn a small commission if you purchase plugins and services we mention at no extra cost to you. We only recommend the best plugins and services – which we have used and can recommend.
WooCommerce’s Answer To Global eCommerce with WooCommerce
Here’s a guide from WooCommerce themselves. I’m not going to repeat the content here – but it lays out a pretty comprehensive approach to taking on more countries and more currencies with your site.
Here’s an additional resource. It’s suggestions are more limited to simply adding a currency converter. This is an option. It’s A solution. In our opinion this solution is only suitable for a limited number of businesses. It might suit you if you’re dipping your toe in foreign waters, but this isn’t the route to world domination.
What are the key takeaways from these WooCommerce resources?
Moral of the story – you don’t want to have separate domain names for each country. You’re going to miss out on the SEO benefit of having a single powerful domain.
Therefore having a configuration where users can arrive at the same website, but be served content, pricing, shipping options etc. that suit their location is most definitely the best option.
In order to have this level of power and connectivity, WooCommerce are saying you NEED to create a WordPress Network. Don’t panic, it’s actually not that scary. More commonly this is known as “WordPress Multisite” and it’s well supported and well established.
Here’s a short guide by WordPress on how to create a network – it’s short, which hopefully reinforces the level of complexity.
There are alternatives to this approach and you don’t NEED to use a WooCommerce Multisite Network to have an international WooCommerce store with multiple currencies, multiple shipping locations, multiple warehouses and more.
WooCommerce WordPress Multisite
That being said, knitting this WordPress multisite network in with WooCommerce should be managed by someone competent in both WordPress multisites and WooCommerce just to be on the safe side. You know what they say, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’
It’s entirely possible to have a multi-national store that caters to each regions needs, whilst building a very powerful and authoritative overall domain.
Other Ways Of Achieving A Multi-Region WooCommerce Store
- Single WooCommerce Installation, Multiple Warehouse Locations, Multiple Languages, Multiple Currencies
- WordPress Multisite Installation but using the WooCommerce Multistore Plugin for more centralised “single site” management
Single WooCommerce Installation, Multiple Warehouse Locations, Multiple Languages, Multiple Currencies
So the above guides and information are from WooCommerce themselves, so they’re entirely credible, but there’s always more ways to solve a problem than first appears to be the case.
Single WordPress Install – WooCommerce Multiple Warehouse Locations
WooCommerce as a single site installation (as opposed to WordPress Multi Site as above) is, at it’s core designed for shipping from a single location. This means that you CAN expand the store internationally, translating the site and providing native currencies for each region you support. Your customers will however be left with the increased shipping costs due to your location compared with those. (or you stomach the shipping costs as the store owner).
In reality, the way we tackle this is to have multiple warehouse locations.
There are loads of shipping and inventory management systems that can handle this sort of thing that are the preferred choice of your third party logistics providers. So the exact solution will actually be a balance between the technical, and the pragmatic. The real warehouse locations and the systems that those providers like to work with.
The way to think about a single WordPress with WooCommerce site installation is it generates a single, continuous feed of orders, regardless of location in the world.
In the above mentioned solution, using a WordPress Multi-Site Installation, you’re generating a unique order feed for EACH location that you serve. Each warehouse can then receive it’s own order list to work it’s way through.
Of course, it’s entirely possible to take a single, continuous feed of orders from a single WooCommerce installation and split it out AFTER the orders have been received. If you’re doing this however, you don’t have the option for complex logic on the front end, where the customers’ location can show them unique shipping rates based on their location and where their order is being fulfilled from.
There are a limited number of plugins that exist that allow you to take control of this order “splitting” and set shipping cost per not only international location, but also regions within the international location. Here’s one of the best examples of one of those plugins called WooCommerce Multi Warehouse & Order Routing. This allows customised shipping rates to be shown to customers based on their location, and allows you to ship from multiple locations.
Single WordPress Install – WooCommerce Multi-Language & Translation
A note on translations. So Multi-lingual Press also provides the opportunity to manage translations across multiple international WooCommerce Store Locations. There are however a tonne of WordPress and WooCommerce Translation plugin options. Using WPML (WordPress Multi Language) with it’s WooCommerce Multi-Lingual plugin for example provides you with the ability to serve completely different pages with full translations on a SINGLE site installation, much in the same way a WordPress Multisite Network would allow.
Single WordPress Install – WooCommerce Multi Currency Store
With a WordPress Multisite Network running WooCommerce, you have essentially multiple sites that can be configured individually. The shipping settings, currencies etc. all get configured on a “site by site basis” – this is essentially what’s suggested in the WooCommerce guide.
With a single WordPress and WooCommerce website installation you have a single currency option as standard.
If operating internationally, of course you want to offer payments in a customer’s local currency – and there are a number of plugins designed for exactly this purpose.
WooCommerce Multi Currency Store plugins typically have a few key features:
- Automatic currency detection (based on the user location)
- Manual currency selection from a list
- Automatic exchange rate implementation (in most cases, some form of price ’rounding’ too)
So once again, you don’t need to go to the complexity of setting up a WordPress Multi-Site Network to achieve multiple-currencies with WooCommerce.
With this being such a business critical function, we’d suggest going with a highly supported plugin that has extensive compatibility testing. As a result, we would USUALLY recommend a plugin like WooCommerce Multi-Currency Plugin by TIV.NET a Toronto, Canada based development agency. (keep reading to see what we ACTUALLY recommend…)
Currency conversion and management needs to be right to protect your profits. At $99 a year from the WooCommerce Extensions store, this is cheap insurance.
*If a plugin is listed on the WooCommerce Extensions store it gets compatibility tested with WooCommerce Core updates AND all other Theme updates and Plugin updates for themes and plugins also listed in the Extensions store. That’s a LOT of development support and backing.
However, this multi-currency plugin for WooCommerce lacks a critical feature – read the section below labelled: “What to look for in a WooCommerce Multi Currency Plugin” to find out more…
WooCommerce Multistore Plugin: WooCommerce Multisite But With More Central Management For Orders & Content?
Building on the suggested Global eCommerce solution for internationalising your WooCommerce store provided by WooCommerce themselves, WooCommerce Multi Store Plugin appears to overcome some typical issues.
Offering a deeper integration from the “master” or Parent Site to the Child Sites in the network for more centralised control is a step in the right direction.
WooCommerce Multistore is powerful in that allows products to be synchronised across multiple stores in the network. Ultimately you can create complete replicas of your site on different sub-domains (de.store.com, fr.store.com), sub-directories (store.com/de, store.com/fr) or completely different domains (store.com, store.de, store.fr)
Combined with a WordPress Translation Plugin you could then customise each store for each global geography, country and territory.
As each of the sites is essentially “separate” – shipping settings can be unique for each regional WooCommerce store in the network. This means you can connect with a local warehouse and shipping provider in each location.
Seemingly, in combination with a WooCommerce translation plugin, this solution resolves the multi-warehouse, multi-currency and multi-language challenges of international eCommerce. This isn’t too different a solution to that presented by WooCommerce, but it could enhance speed of build and management of catalogues in the long run, particularly if you have quite a dynamic catalogue, pricing strategy or a quickly expanding product range.
WordPress Multisite vs Single Site Installation For Multi-Region, Multi-Currency, Multi-Warehouse WooCommerce?
WordPress Multisite network (as suggested by WooCommerce) using MultilingualPress:
- Can connect your order feed into a warehouse per geographic region (USA, UK, Germany for example)
- Can provide customers with customised shipping costs based on their geographic region
- Can’t provide customers with customised shipping costs based on their region INSIDE a geographic region
The same capabilities exist when using the WooMultistore Plugin.
Single WooCommerce Installation (the alternative) with WPML and WooCommerce Multi Warehouse & Order Routing;
- Can connect your order feed into as many warehouses as you’d like within a geographic location
- Can provide customers with customised shipping costs based on their region INSIDE a geographic region and internationally
Both WordPress Single Site Installations and WordPress Multisite Installations can be used with translation plugins and provide adequate multi-language translation and multi-currency support for international eCommerce.
WooCommerce Two Stores – 2 continents? A Hybrid Alternative Solution
Now if like many eCommerce entrepreneurs your version of internationalisation is to tackle North America and Europe (those are big markets with great eCommerce adoption) – then you could take a hybrid approach.
You could create your multi-site network of two stores with WooCommerce.
1 WooCommerce store for North America
1 WooCommerce store for Europe
Then from each of these multi-site WooCommerce stores you could implement many of the “single WordPress Installation” techniques for international WooCommerce – but still operate just two WooCommerce stores.
There would no doubt be some configuration of your WordPress and WooCommerce translation plugin to meet the needs of applying hreflang tags to the UK network site and the USA network site to make sure they didn’t compete with each other in the SERPs.
Each of the 2 WooCommerce Stores could use their own independent translation plugins to cater for the specific languages and locales in each continent.
The North American WooCommerce store would cater for these languages:
- Canadian English
- Canadian French
- US English
- Mexican Spanish
The European WooCommerce store would cater for these languages:
- UK English
- Spain Spanish
- France French
- And more..
The addition of hreflang tag references between the stores is the sticking point and likely something that would need to be hard coded into each page (which for a developer with a VERY narrow set of requirements could be an extremely cost effective customisation). We hat customised code – but in this instance, this is a hybrid solution that ultimately simplifies many other aspects and means you can operate WooCommerce in a lot of countries, currencies and languages with only two WooCommerce Stores.
What to look for in a WooCommerce Multi Currency Plugin
If you’ve opted for some form of single WordPress installation with WooCommerce for your multi-country eCommerce store, you’re faced with needing a WooCommerce Multi-Currency Plugin.
Choosing a multi currency plugin for WooCommerce can be a bit of a confusing mess given the options available. We do however recommend you go with a solution from a provider that’s prominent in the WooCommerce community who will stand by their plugins and provide support. For this reason, a plugin with a yearly subscription for updates and support is a must (not that that’s the ONLY thing to consider!).
The BIGGEST factor to consider for conversion optimised sales in multiple countries is…
Does the multicurrency plugin allow you to select a different product price per COUNTRY (not just per CURRENCY)?
This is a consideration especially when faced with the challenge of prices being entered with taxes included and / or you provide “free” shipping, but ultimately bake the cost of shipping into the product price.
Now YES – you can use complex shipping rules based on delivery location etc. and YES you can stipulate different taxes based on different locations of purchase so in THEORY you can keep your “main price” the same and then the taxes and shipping will adjust automatically.
However, this will inevitably mean for some countries you’ll have some great psychological pricing levels i.e. 19.95 Euros
Whilst for other countries with a slightly different tax or VAT percentage you end up with ugly 20.03 Euros
This is a conversion rate killer – and it’s one of the reasons we don’t recommend both:
- Automatic price calculation based on tax applied on a base price
- Automatic price calculation based on exchange rate
What we DO recommend is the calculation of your pricing structure per country (including tax! And including any exchange rates!)
This then allows you to price things optimally in each country whilst maintaining your psychological pricing.
Not to mention, frequent small changes in price on your store are a surefire way to lose the trust of your customers – and it’s a big signal that you’re not TRULY catering for the needs of buyers in the country you’re targeting.
Unless you’re trading with extremely thin margins a monthly or even quarterly review of exchange rate should be more than sufficient to prevent selling products too cheaply.
Equally, if you “round UP” from the currency converted price, you’ll have some “margin for change” in the exchange rate anyway.
This is the single most required feature of a multi-currency plugin as far as we’re concerned.
Displaying the price in a different currency is one thing – but specifying price by country is what you’re ACTUALLY wanting to achieve.
WooCommerce Multi Currency Plugins that allow you to specify Price Based on Country
The great news is you have a few options – but NOT ALL Multi Currency Plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce have this feature.
It’s worth taking a look at Price Based on Country for WooCommerce
The awesome news is – these guys offer a FREE version of the plugin from WordPress.org – and then there’s a premium version which is priced VERY affordably for a plugin that’s so powerful. You can check our “Price Based on Country for WooCommerce” below:
The problem with having a different domain name for each region
Now don’t get confused here.
A different domain would be sitename.co.uk and sitename.com – these are 2 very different sites.
A WordPress multisite network with WooCommerce would create something like this; sitename.com/uk/ and sitename.com/us/ for the UK and the US regions respectively.
Equally, you can choose to configure things with sub-domains e.g. uk.sitename.com and us.sitename.com for the same purposes. These are semantics that each have their own technical nuances that to the outside world make no real difference. But once you’ve committed to a direction, that’s you set. There shouldn’t be any chopping and changing.
Back to the problem.
Google and other search engines evaluate each domain individually.
Therefore sitename.co.uk and sitename.com would be evaluated and appropriately ranked separately. .co.uk could be nowhere, whilst .com could be the BBC news site!
Spending money on SEO and building authority on 3 separate domains would be 3 times less effective than expending the same effort on just 1 domain. Or put another way, it’s 3 times more expensive to split things up and have separate domains.
Not to mention the fact that you’d then have several installations of WooCommerce and WordPress to manage with completely unconnected sites.
Does that mean you can’t use the sitename.de sitename.fr sitename.it sitname.es designations?
Not at all. Buy the domains and redirect them to the part of the WordPress site network that’s relevant and appropriate. i.e. redirect sitename.de to sitename.com/de/
This allows you to provide customers with clean URLs if you so wish whilst maintaining the overall centralised website management.
If you’ve tackled this issue and come out of the other side of eCommerce world domination, I’d love to hear your experiences, good and bad in the comments below!
Plugins for WooCommerce Multiple Warehouses
Plugins for WooCommerce Multiple Currencies
Plugins for WooCommerce Multiple Languages
Other Noteworthy Multi-Country WooCommerce Resources
Running Google Ads In Multiple Countries, Multiple Currencies and Multiple Languages with WooCommerce
Of course in this article we’ve tackled most of the on-site considerations when it comes to using WooCommerce for an international eCommerce store. It’s important to however consider all of the integrations your online store will have with other platforms such as Google Ads for traffic, Google Merchant Center, Facebook Ads, Facebook Catalog etc.
If you’re not reliant solely on Search Engine Optimisation for organic traffic, these are very real considerations with huge implications.
Choosing a tech stack of plugins, themes and the Content Management system that can handle all of these integrations seamlessly is of paramount importance.
It’s all well and good pulling together a string of stores, or a highly customised single site installation – but if your WooCommerce store isn’t designed to integrate well with the ads platforms and their catalog feeds, you could be in for a rough time.
Luckily, there are a few ways to approach this potential headache. One of which is using a really high integrity catalog management plugin for WooCommerce like this one.
We’ll cover these in more detail in the near future, but for now check out these resources:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a WooCommerce Multisite plugin?
Multisite is actually a form of WordPress. WooCommerce is a plugin that functions within the WordPress Content Management system (for more on the difference between WordPress and WooCommerce see this article)
So there isn’t actually a “plugin” that makes WooCommerce multisite.
The WordPress CMS comes in ultimately 2 very related forms
WordPress Single Site Install
WordPress Multisite Network
To make a “WooCommerce Multisite Network” you’re ultimately creating a “WordPress Multisite Network” that has the WooCommerce plugin installed on all sites.
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