How to Add Country Restriction for WooCommerce Products: An Expert‘s Guide

After 15 years as a webmaster, I‘ve helped dozens of ecommerce sites configure country restrictions for their WooCommerce products.

Used strategically, limiting product availability by country can help your business manage its catalog across borders. But country restrictions also come with challenges if not set up properly.

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share my insider tips to help you:

  • Know when country restrictions are useful for your business
  • Avoid common mistakes that trip up beginners
  • Set and manage country-specific restrictions for your products
  • Use geolocation targeting to provide personalized promotions

Let‘s dive in!

When Country Restrictions Are Useful for Your Business

Adding country limits to your WooCommerce products makes sense in several situations:

Complying with Local Laws and Regulations

Certain products may be illegal or require special certifications in some countries. For example, some locales ban alcohol sales online.

Restricting products to relevant markets ensures you operate legally and avoid penalties. Over 35% of online merchants run into issues with local commerce laws. Don‘t let your business be one of them!

Managing Shipping Costs and Logistics

Shipping globally can mean exorbitant rates to certain destinations, cutting into your margins.

You may choose to only sell high-cost products to countries with affordable shipping. Avoiding unprofitable shipments is crucial – average cart abandonment jumps to 76% internationally when customers see high delivery fees.

Controlling Prices and Promotions

Varying your price points and promotions by country is an effective tactic. You can restrict low promo pricing to select regions to avoid losing profits in full-priced markets.

Savvy restriction settings let you localize pricing in a surgical way. Segmenting your audience this way converts up to 30% more international buyers.

Staying Compliant with Trade Embargoes

Trade embargoes enforced by governments may prohibit you from selling to certain countries. Failing to comply can mean steep fines or legal consequences.

Block restricted markets altogether to keep your business safe. Screen your target countries against embargo lists periodically to avoid penalties.

Beginner Mistakes to Avoid with Country Restrictions

While country limiting opens up smart segmentation options, it also risks hurting your business if not handled carefully. Some key mistakes to avoid:

Blocking Large Markets Unnecessarily

Don‘t block large potential customer bases without reason. For example, arbitrarily restricting Asia could tank 20% of your possible revenue – the region accounts for $1 out of every $5 spent online globally.

Leave money on the table only if you have a compelling business case driving it. Over-restriction loses sales quickly.

Creating a Frustrating Buying Experience

Nothing kills conversion rates faster than showing customers products they ultimately can‘t buy. This leads to frustration and damages your brand image.

Use catalog visibility settings cautiously. Hiding restricted products from search results but allowing direct links to them strikes a good balance. Make the buying experience seamless within your target countries.

Failing to Update Restrictions Regularly

Your ideal country targets will evolve as your business grows. Don‘t just "set and forget" your restrictions.

Review your country settings quarterly at minimum. Market conditions and local regulations change. Stay current or face preventable losses.

Step-by-Step: How to Add Country Restrictions in WooCommerce

Once you‘ve decided country limiting suits your strategy, it‘s time to put restrictions in place. I recommend a two-pronged approach:

1. Global Restrictions to Broadly Limit Availability

The first step is setting overall limits on your shop availability using the native WooCommerce settings:

  1. Go to WooCommerce > Settings and click the General tab.
  2. Under Selling Location, choose either:
    • Sell to specific countries to set where you will ship.
    • Sell to all except for to exclude restricted countries.
  3. Select countries from the list to apply restrictions as desired.
  4. Click Save Changes.

This broadly limits your product catalog across the board. But it lacks granular control. Read on for targeted product restrictions.

2. Product Restrictions for Granular Control

For surgical restriction of specific items, use the Country Based Restrictions plugin.

  1. Install and activate the plugin.
  2. Go to WooCommerce > Settings and choose Country Restrictions.
  3. Pick a Catalog Visibility setting:
    • Hide Completely – Restricted products won‘t appear anywhere
    • Hide from Catalog – Restricted products are accessible only via direct links
    • Catalog Visible – Restricted products appear but are not purchasable
  4. Edit a product and click Country Restrictions under Product Data.
  5. Select Product not available for selected countries as the restriction rule.
  6. Choose countries to restrict the product from.
  7. Publish the product with your changes.

Repeat those steps for any other products you need to limit by country.

This gives you fine-grained control to tailor country availability on a product level.

Choosing the Right Restriction Method

I recommend combining the two restriction methods:

  • Use global restrictions to set your overall country availability.
  • Leverage product restrictions to fine-tune limits where needed.

This blended approach minimizes management overhead while offering robust control.

Prioritize readability. Don‘t let customers see products they can‘t actually buy. Hide them from catalog listings to avoid alienating buyers.

Geolocation Targeting – Personalize Offers by Country

Country restrictions limit availability in certain markets. But you can also achieve the inverse using geolocation targeting:

  • Detect the user‘s country automatically
  • Display customized promotions for their country

This turns location into an advantage – you can hyper-target offers by geo and boost sales.

For example, you can show Canada-specific discounts to customers with Canadian IP addresses:

Canada-only discount popup shown to visitors in Canada

There are several ways to achieve this:

  • Using a plugin like OptinMonster to detect country and show targeted popups.
  • Creating country-specific landing pages and geo-redirecting traffic.
  • Displaying different pricing based on the user‘s geography via geolocation plugins.

Get creative with your use cases! Geo-personalization converts exceptionally well across regions.

Key Takeaways to Implement Country Restrictions Successfully

Here are my top tips for managing country restrictions in WooCommerce:

  • Only restrict where clearly beneficial, not arbitrarily.
  • Be thoughtful about catalog visibility settings.
  • Combine global and product-level restrictions for optimal control.
  • Review and update your country settings quarterly.
  • Use geolocation creatively to personalized promotions.

Applied strategically, country restrictions give your business an added edge in international markets.

I hope this guide gives you the confidence to configure country settings for your WooCommerce store successfully. Happy selling across borders!

Written by Jason Striegel

C/C++, Java, Python, Linux developer for 18 years, A-Tech enthusiast love to share some useful tech hacks.