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Currency Conversion for your Shopify store

by Jonathan Kennedy July 07, 2016

A guest post by the Code Black Belt team. Code Black Belt develops nice, swift and robust software applications. They master the most powerful programming languages and technologies to ensure sound foundations for your business infrastructure.


One of the biggest advantages of e-commerce over traditional retailing is that online stores can easily reach a global market. Most couriers can carry a parcel to any country in the world in just a few days, so if our products are exportable and our prices are competitive, there's no excuse to avoid targeting international customers.

How do I know if a currency converter would be beneficial to my store? That's easy to check thanks to the new Visitors by Location report, available for all Shopify stores since March 2016.

If our store has a significant amount of foreign visitors, there's a great opportunity to boost our international sales.

The Visitors by Location report can be used to know if our store needs a currency converter

Conversion software available

There's a range of options to add currency conversion support to our Shopify store.

First, some themes have basic conversion features. As themes cannot use server-side resources, their support for currency conversion is very limited. However, they can be an convenient solution for new small businesses.

Second, there's a Shopify tutorial showing an unsupported way of adding conversion to your store. This solution shares the same issues as theme built-in conversion widgets.

Finally, there are several currency conversion apps available on the Shopify App Store. The features and quality of these apps vary dramatically, so let's explore the key features that a currency converter should master.

Key features

Exchange rates

Maybe the most important feature of a currency converter is accuracy. Nobody wants to buy something by 20 dollars and then discover that 21 dollars were charged. Some conversion solutions for Shopify use reliable exchange rate providers while others use free internet services. Rate update frequencies range from 1 minute to 12 hours.

We need to notice that the customer will always pay using the store currency, as Shopify payment gateways only support one single currency. So the exact conversion will be calculated by the payment gateway, such as PayPal or the credit card issuer. Charging the customer a substantially different amount may end up in complaints or even in refund requests.

Frequent update rates are key because rates can fluctuate heavily. For example, during the recent Brexit event (the UK decision to leave the European Union), the British Pound Sterling dropped its value by 10% in a few hours.

Exchange rates can change quickly, so frequent update rates are decisive


Prices should be converted automatically to the visitor's currency based on their location, as they usually will not spend time looking for a menu option to switch to their currency. Most apps will use geolocation based on the IP address of the customer, but themes usually don't support this feature.

Correct currency formatting

Currency converters must format prices using the customer language formatting rules. The dot character is the decimal separator in English, but it is also the thousand separator in German or Spanish. If we don't use the correct rules our customer may think that our prices are a thousand times bigger or smaller.

Similarly, the position of the currency symbol, such as the dollar sign, must be on the left side in English and on the right side in French.

Formatting rules are not related to countries but to languages. For example, Canadian Dollar must be formatted differently in the English-speaking and the French-speaking areas. See the Government of Canada's recommendations for a detailed explanation.

Our currency converter must use the correct formatting depending on the customer language

Same happens with the Euro formatting among Ireland, France, Germany, Italy or Spain: one single currency must be formatted differently depending on the language of the different Euro countries.

Using a currency converter that does not follow the formatting rules will confuse our international customers and may damage our site reputation.

Currencies supported

Most currency tools and apps cover the main currencies, i.e., US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, British Pound Sterling, Euro, Japanese Yen or Chinese Yuan. Other apps take it to the next level by adding many more conversions, including cryptocurrencies as Bitcoin, precious metals or historical currencies.

Supporting a wide range of currencies will attract more potential customers to our business.

Currency Converter+

Currency Converter+ is the professional conversion solution from Code Black Belt. Our app features one-minute update rates from reliable rate providers, IP geolocation, up to 216 currencies and a first-class customer support. The app can be fully customised to fulfil every store needs and match its theme style.

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