Cross border features begin to open up selling in different languages, currencies
by Michael Hill
Out of the Sandbox themes are already used across the globe with dozens of languages and currencies — but new features in our entire Shopify theme portfolio make it easier than ever to integrate with Shopify’s tools that let you sell where and how you want.
Why it matters: Marketing and selling around the world makes it possible to reach an even broader audience for your products or services. It also opens up a myriad of opportunities to expand the reach of your mission to people from different countries and cultures.
The bigger picture: These features are all part of Shopify’s “cross border” initiative that is aimed at making ecommerce easy and accessible for both merchants and customers around the globe.
A continuing effort: It’s worth noting that this initiative is not “finished” — Shopify hopes to continue to add and expand features and functionality, so if a particular scenario isn’t supported now, stay tuned as it may become possible in the future.
Where to find these updates: All of Out of the Sandbox’s premium Shopify themes — Turbo, Flex, Artisan, Parallax, Retina, Mobilia, Responsive — have been updated to support Shopify’s new native currency selector and store language capabilities.
Clarifying some differences: It’s important to distinguish between previous currency and language features that various Shopify themes, including Out of the Sandbox’s, and apps make possible.
Currency converter vs. currency selector
Currency converter feature: Out of the Sandbox themes have long supported a feature called the currency converter that let shoppers select from available options and see pricing in that currency.
Why use the currency converter: The currency converter is helpful for when international users are browsing your store since it lets them approach your product pricing using values that are familiar to them.
The currency converter limitation: However, the currency converter has the limitation that orders can only be processed in the store’s single, “main” currency.
Currency selector: The currency selector, meanwhile, is a feature directly supported by the Shopify platform (as opposed to a particular theme) that lets users see prices in supported currencies and, most importantly, pay for orders in those currencies.
How to use the currency selector: The new currency selector must be enabled by the store owner and also has limited support for only select countries and currencies. It also only works if you use Shopify Payments. When successfully enabled, your theme will display a menu for shoppers to use.
Cost savings: Using the currency selector feature can potentially save you some money. Before this feature, many stores that sold in multiple currencies created multiple Shopify accounts — one for each country or currency — which would require an additional monthly payment to Shopify. Under the currency selector feature, assuming your store is using selling in eligible countries or currencies, you most likely will only need one Shopify account.
What’s changed: Out of the Sandbox’s Turbo and Flex themes still support using the currency converter or currency selector. However, Artisan, Parallax, Retina, Mobilia and Responsive no longer include the currency converter.
If your store isn’t compatible: If you aren’t using Shopify Payments or are not in one of the supported countries, Turbo and Flex still support letting you show shoppers pricing in different currencies — but they won’t be able to check out in that currency at this time.
Theme language support vs. store language support
Theme language support: Shopify themes have supported a language file for years now. These language files allow store owners to edit what text is used, often repeatedly, throughout a Shopify theme. For example, it lets users define labels or terminology such as what the “add to cart” button and “checkout” buttons say.
Using theme language support: These are managed under the “edit languages” link on your theme dashboard page.
A broader definition: In terms of theme language support, the word “language” not only applies to what language the text is written in, but also how it is phrased. For example, a store that uses the English language as a whole might prefer to use the phrase “add to shopping cart” instead of “add to cart.” Both are in English, but are phrased differently.
What the limits of theme language support mean: Theme language support essentially means that a single store could only be available in a single language (unless a third party app was installed).
What store language support adds: While many of the translation apps in the Shopify store have been around for some time, compatibility with the store languages feature provides opportunities for streamlined integration.
New store language URLs: When integrated with a compatible translation app, the Shopify store language feature also automatically generates unique URLs for the various versions of your pages. Shopify adds a two character language abbreviation after your domain name, such as “/de” to your domain (in this case German).
Some store language URL limitations: In its initial release, Shopify does not support multiple domains for different store languages. For example, your pages cannot exist on yourstore.us for English and yourstore.de for German.
Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn. While comments and feedback are always appreciated, Michael regrets that, due to the volume of inquires received, personal responses are not possible. For specific assistance or support with Out of the Sandbox themes, visit the help center.