Bilingual French / English Ecommerce for Canadians: An Easy, Low-Cost Way To Set Up A Bilingual Online Store

Lately, we’ve been doing some further research into bilingual regulations the world over, in an effort to help customers who need to comply with regulations, as well as those who want to have a bilingual website.  This post is specific to Canada – in particular, to Quebec. It gives an overview of a way to set up a bilingual website using Shopify.


The Official Languages Act (Loi sur les langues officielles) of Canada mandates that English and French have equal status in the government and is the cornerstone of Canada’s official bilingualism.

According to a 2011 Canadian census, 68% of Canadians speak English. 13% speak French and 18% can speak both French and English (bilingual).

One exception is the province of Quebec where French is the predominant language and provincial laws are in place stating commercial enterprises that target Quebec consumers must utilize French as the predominant language in advertising and marketing.

According to local law, if you are a business with an address in Quebec and an online presence your website and all marketing materials must be available in French.  We often receive inquiries from folks in the Canadian Province of Quebec, wondering…

How do Canadian business owners, especially those in Quebec, build a bilingual French and English ecommerce site that targets their bilingual customer base and abide by laws in Quebec stating that websites need to be in both English and French?

Option #1:  Two Websites

What some have done is build two parallel e-commerce sites: one in English and one in French.

However, the harsh reality of this approach is that everything you do to run and manage one store. You have to do to the other as well. This incurs a cost in both time and money, two things that every business owner would rather spend on things that provide a better ROI. You need to manage two inventories, two accounts, and two separate websites. Whilst it’s flexible because you can show different content on each site, it can become a logistical nightmare.

Option #2:  Shopify + Bilingual Shopify Theme (We believe a more elegant and cost-effective solution)

We’ve had several clients from Quebec create Bilingual French / English stores on Shopify, using the Bilingual Shopify Theme. So far, the feedback has been wonderful.

Shopify is a powerful hosted e-commerce website solution used by thousands of businesses worldwide, netting shop owners over $100 million in total sales since its launch in 2006.

Using Shopify and Shopify Ninjas bilingual theme you can run your e-commerce website in both English and French on a single website.

What Does This Mean For Canadian E-Commerce Business Owners?
  • You can tailor your site to both English and French, reaching the vast majority of Canadian consumers.
  • You can maintain and abide by the Canadian and provincial laws on bilingualism.
  • You can target both French and English speakers from a single website.
  • You no longer have to manage two inventories or update two websites.
  • The bilingual theme is fully customizable. You can add your own company logo, change fonts and set your own colors.
  • You have control over SEO in both French and English languages, which means you reach more customers for your business.

It’s also responsive, meaning your customers can see you on their smartphone, tablet or other mobile devices.

Click here to see an example of a client in Quebec using the Bilingual Theme + Shopify: Elucx

Call us biased – we won’t be offended! We believe that this is one of the most robust, low-cost, and easy solutions for Canadian businesses. An option that allows them to quickly and easily build a bilingual French and English e-commerce website and expand their reach to customers of more than one language.


Thank you for keeping up to date with our  Shopify Insider Blog @ Blackbelt Commerce. Check out our services. We also have some top blog recommendations for you to check out; 5 Beautiful Bilingual Shopify Stores  new design: bilingual shopify, bilingual shopify store, and Translating Your Shopify Storefront.  Please keep a lookout for new blog posts.

Do you have any questions? We’ll be doing Q&A in the comments.

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