A great feature of Magento is being able to set up and manage multiple webstores. This gives merchants the freedom to create multiple domains so you can expand your product assortment and grow your business.
However, running multiple Magento stores has its own set of challenges. It’s difficult to manage separate websites and keep up with orders, inventory levels and product information. For some, these challenges might seem too overwhelming and deter you from selling through multiple storefronts.
Whether you’re considering using multiple Magento stores or are already doing so, we’ve got answers for you! We’ll explain why you would want to sell on multiple stores, the challenges of doing so, and best practices for overcoming those challenges.
Why You Should Sell on Multiple Magento Stores
While most merchants only need to sell on one store, there are cases where it makes sense to sell across multiple ones. Doing so is a great way to sell an expanded product assortment to different audiences. Here are a few reasons why you might consider using multiple Magento stores:
If your products have a global audience, you could benefit from multiple Magento stores. Separate webstores allow you to customize each site to a region’s specific culture, tastes, and needs. Depending on where you sell, each site might look different in terms of product assortment, language, marketing techniques, currency, and website design.
Example: Many fashion, clothing, shoes or food brands often have different sites for specific regions across the globe. Check out how global e-bike brand Riese and Muller tailors their Magento storefronts for their US market or Italy market.
Expert Tip: If you’re selling in the EU or to their citizens, you must comply with GDPR law requirements.
Off-Price or Outlet Brand
Some luxury brands create off-price or outlet brand offshoots as another way to grow their business. With different price points for similar products, they can use their brand name to appeal to different audiences. While it can be hard for a brand to manage both over time, it can be done. You must be able to maintain your off-price brand without devaluing your high-end brand name.
Example: When undertaking this strategy, you’ll need to tailor your site to two very different buyers based on price sensitivity and product quality. Most merchants operate two separate sites to keep marketing and messaging relevant and isolated from each other. Look no further than Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, their discount outlet division, as a leading example.
Some merchants sell both directly to consumers and through B2B. When selling to the two different groups, Magento sellers will leverage two different sites. B2B eCommerce buyers have very different needs and checkout requirements such as terms account, special customer pricing, and different payment options.
Example: Many outdoor equipment retailers sell directly to consumers in addition to B2B buyers for wholesale opportunities. See how Camelbak separates their B2C site and B2B site for each line of business.
Different B2C Audiences
There are cases where merchants will create different sites for specific consumer audiences that they sell to. If your products vary enough for each buyer group, it could make sense to dedicate your site to each one.
Example: Consider how Fabletics expanded their women’s and men’s athleticwear to everyday kid’s clothes for Fabkids. While they’re under the same brand and use the same monthly subscription model, Fabletics uses two sites to appeal to each group.
There are many different scenarios that could warrant you creating and managing multiple Magento webstores. If you have an opportunity like any of these, separate sites might be your best strategy.
Challenges of Managing Multiple Magento Stores
The challenges of managing multiple Magento stores goes beyond creation and set up though. The real difficultly comes in managing daily operations for both. You need to be prepared to deal with processes like these:
- Orders: How do you deal with orders coming in from different sites? How will fulfillment be handled for each site? How will each return policy look?
- Inventory: Are you selling the same products across some stores? How are you ensuring inventory relocation and updates to prevent overselling?
- Products: Do you have a single source of truth for your product information? What are your processes for changing, updating and pushing product information tailored to each site?
- Customers: Do you have a 360-degree view of your customers across all your storefronts?
- Integration: What are rules and workflows for each site’s integration into your backend system such as an ERP or different financial system?
Having multiple storefronts means having multiple sets of sales data to manage and keep straight. If you let it get messy and don’t centralize management of it, you’re going to have processes you can’t keep up with. The result will be a less than desired experience for your customers across all your digital storefronts.
By knowing your challenges upfront, you can plan for the processes needed to overcome complexities like those above.
Best Practices for Managing Multiple Magento Stores
If you want to successfully sell across multiple Magento storefront, then consider some of these best multichannel selling practices.
Optimize Each Magento Site
As you saw in the examples above, many of the sites used different copy, design elements, and marketing techniques for each version. If you’re targeting different buyers, then your site should be tailored to their needs and wants. Think about different keywords, checkout processes, and layouts that make sense for each group of buyers.
If you don’t already, consider working with an eCommerce agency that specializes in Magento to help you plan and design each site.
Centralize Order Management
A major challenge of operating multiple stores is fulfilling orders across all your sites. If you try to keep up by manually processing and fulfilling orders, your processes can be slow and prone to mistakes like hand-keying in incorrect shipping addresses.
It doesn’t matter where the order originated from, you’ll want automated processes across stores to keep fulfillment, returns, and customer care consistent across operations. To do that, you should consider a system that centralizes order management.
Master Product Data in a PIM
More likely than not your product information is going to be different across sites. It could need to include different languages, product descriptions, keywords and more. Keeping up with product information changes is time consuming and hard work. It can become a mess quickly without the right structure in place.
Merchants will need a place to centralize or “master” their product data as well. From a single location, you can standardize, tailor, and publish all your product data to their different sites. You can use a system like a Product Information Management (PIM) application to achieve those processes. Learn more about why merchants need a PIM.
Real-Time Inventory Management
Real-time inventory updates are crucial when you’re selling the same product across multiple sites. Without real-time inventory updates, you’re putting yourself at risk for overselling. There’s nothing worse than having to tell a customer you can’t ship an item they thought they bought. Real-time data also ensures you have accurate and timely data so you can make better decisions for your customers like when to move inventory to another location.
Consider Magento Integration
All in all, most of these best practices come down to centralizing the management of your sales data across all Magento sites. Just because you sell on separate domains, it does not mean you should operate them in isolation from each other. Siloed processes tend to give you more problems in the long-run. You won’t be able to make the right decisions for your customers because you won’t know the whole picture of your operations.
Merchants running multiple Magento storefronts should consider an integration platform that’s built for multichannel management. It helps handle data coming from multiple sales channels like your different eCommerce sites and syncs it with your backend systems like an ERP/accounting, POS, or 3PL systems. It automates your sales transactions between the two so you can:
- Manage large product catalogs
- Automate order fulfillment for faster delivery times
- Gain Cross-channel inventory visibility
- Enable drop shipping and multi-location fulfillment
- Automate returns process
- Support B2C and B2B transactions
With a solution like this in place, it becomes much easier to scale your processes and handle the unique complexities of managing multiple eCommerce storefronts. As you build out your eCommerce strategy, integration should be part of the conversation from the very beginning of the project. This ensures your eCommerce stores are built to handle processes you need to happen in the background.