Global eCommerce: 5 Factors for Demandware International Checkout
By Robert Ward, Technical Lead
When you decide to go global with your Demandware eCommerce site, there are plenty of topics to consider, but one of the trickiest matters to manage is international checkout. There are quite a few different solutions available ranging from out-of-the-box SiteGenesis functionality, to third-party IFrame services, to Demandware LINK cartridges. But, to pick the best one for your global eCommerce situation, you’ll need to consider the following questions:
- Are my product prices unique by country?
…or am I just converting from USD?
If your product prices are different for each country, you’re in luck! From version 14.1 onward, Demandware International Checkout supports multi-pricebook sites natively. You can also set currency-specific prices for promotions, shipping methods, and anything else that involves money. However, if your product prices are all just conversions from USD prices, then you may need to look into a third-party currency exchange rate service. The European Central Bank (ECB) has a free daily XML feed that can be used for this purpose, but there are a variety of other providers out there that will provide a more robust API for a cost, i.e. XE.com and OpenExchangeRates.org.
- Am I actually transacting in foreign currencies?
…or am I just displaying the converted currency price for the user’s convenience?
If you want to transact in foreign currencies, there are a variety of ways to do that. Two of the most popular global eCommerce payment processors with LINK cartridges are AdYen and CyberSource. However, if your global prices are display-only, and you’re transacting in USD, any typical payment implementation will suffice.
- Am I letting the user select their currency?
…or do I want to determine it via geo-IP location or billing country?
The native Demandware multi-currency implementation features a selector dropdown in the site header. But, if you want to get more fancy, you can use the user’s IP address to geolocate them (an out-of-the-box feature) and then create a custom solution to map their country to the appropriate currency. Or, if the geo-IP route doesn’t sound appealing, you can always wait to determine the user’s native currency by looking at the country in their billing address. Keep in mind though, that the billing address isn’t entered until midway through the checkout process. So, most of the site (product and category pages, shopping cart, etc.) will not have the info it needs to display the correct currency, and it will really only be useful for showing the user their final order totals.
- What are my tax considerations?
…do the countries I’m supporting use VAT or Sales Tax? Net or Gross Tax?
VAT (or Value Added Tax) is a gross pricing model used in most countries in the world. This means that the final product price already reflects markups for tax that was already paid by the manufacturer and distributor. Thankfully, most EMEA and Asian countries have a flat VAT tax rate across the entire country, and rates don’t change very frequently. Both Net and Gross pricing models can be handled by the standard Demandware tax tables, but they can be a bit of a challenge to manage properly, especially if you are selling in Canada. Canada has a net pricing model similar to the US, but there are constantly changing provincial, federal, and harmonized rates. For convenience’s sake, there are LINK cartridges like Avalara Avatax and Bongo International that will calculate all the duties and taxes needed.
- Will I ship internationally?
…or just bill internationally? And can I fulfill international orders myself?
If you need assistance with international fulfillment, there are a variety of services that will help you do so. One of the most frequently recommended is the BorderFree LINK cartridge, which handles international checkout and currency exchange in an IFrame with localized content. On the back-end, the service functions as a proxy shipper. So, when you sell a product, you send it to a BorderFree distributor, not the customer. The distributor then handles all of the logistics of getting it shipped properly. While this is one of the easiest ways to get an international checkout up and running, it doesn’t offer you much control over the process (as it only supports credit cards and has fees for shipping from a US warehouse). At the time of this writing, there are a total of 10 cross-border fulfillment partners in the Demandware XChange Marketplace, so it is recommended that you thoroughly do your research before picking one.
Adding international checkout can be a daunting task for any eCommerce site, but with Demandware, there are a lot of options available to make the setup as painless as possible.
Robert Ward is a Technical Lead on the LYONSCG Implementation team, and has been building Demandware sites since 2011. Robert is a certified Demandware Developer, and he is an avid fan of all things basketball-related.