International expansion - Multiple stores or multiple 'store fronts'?

International expansion - Multiple stores or multiple 'store fronts'?

Shopify Partner
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We have a UK store up and running with a fulfilment centre in the UK. We've had a lot of success with the European market, but growth has been hampered due to EU customers paying a higher shipping fees, longer shipping times and duties/taxes. 


We've decided to set-up a European business, so we now have appointed a Netherlands based Fulfilment centre and gone through the necessary legal and fiscal hurdles to be able to sell within the EU.


However, we are completely confused as to how to handle this on Shopify and need some help deciding what the best or most appropriate approach is. We've boiled it down to two options 1) create a separate store or 2) have two separate storefronts in the same store

The products and variants we will be selling to each region is exactly the same.


Put simply, we need:

- UK (and rest of the world) customers to only have access to inventory in the UK Ware house and have their orders fulfilled from our UK warehouse

- European customers to only have access to the European inventory and have their orders fulfilled from our NL warehouse


Option 1 - Open a new separate Shopify store for the EU

In some places we've seen that we need to have two different Shopify stores (either with separate domains o subdomains - the user selects which store they want to visit the first time they navigate to our site). This appears to be the cleanest approach to this challenge particularly regarding managing inventory, but it feels quite a heavyweight option. I don't know the details but I imagine there will be lots of migration that needs to happen, and duplication of  effort when updating the website.

Does anyone with experience (having done this) know what we may need to be mindful of if we use this option?


Option 2 - create a separate "Storefront" for the EU business, but within the same Shopify Store

One lightweight option we are considering is having a separate store front. The customer would still select which region they are form or would like to visit, abut instead of directing them to independent stores we simply show a different store front.


My understanding is that this option would pose a challenges to managing the inventory appropriately, and we have some questions. For example, if we have one product that has 0 inventory at the EIUI location and 10 in stock at the UK location, can we show the EU visitors that the product us out of stock?
Equally, if we do solve the above problem can we unsure that the order flows through to the right location based on their shipping address?


Are there any other issues apart from inventory that we need to be mindful of with this option?

We really don't know want to go for option 1 unless we really have to, so if someone can help us determine if option is possible that would be great.


Thanks for your help in advanced.

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