29 augustus 2022
More and more companies serve the market with more than one e-commerce proposition. Think of B2B and B2C propositions, different brands from one company, different countries, languages and currencies. With a unique storefront for each proposition, brands offer each target group the ideal shopping experience. But running multiple e-commerce platforms simultaneously also leads to a lot of overhead, complexity and high IT costs. This is where multi-storefront technology comes in.
With a so-called multi-storefront, companies manage multiple webshops/storefronts from one backend. This makes it possible to run multiple brand stores on the same e-commerce platform that handles orders, processes payments and contains customer information. In this extensive article you will discover the possibilities of such a multi-storefront setup for e-commerce organizations.
Multi-storefront has been around for a while. The principle is based on an organization that offers multiple webshops via the internet. Think of a consumer electronics company that offers several webshops for washing machines, flat screen televisions and coffee machines. Shops with the same layout and structure but different products. These shops were often copies of each other, with their own content management system. Developers, marketers and content managers therefore had to carry out updates, add content or optimize for each shop separately.
Nowadays, it is possible to set up a multi-storefront with various e-commerce SaaS platforms. With a multi-storefront, you are able to open multiple webshops within the same admin panel. So you sell items from different storefronts, but handle the processing through the same backend. This way you can stimulate growth, but at the same time keep the costs and complexity of managing multiple online shops within limits.
In a multi-storefront set-up, e-commerce organizations can set up unique webshops with separate domains and custom designs. In this way, a webshop can be adjusted exactly to the desired user experience that the organization aims for its target group. It is also possible to offer shops in different countries with the local currencies, language and payment methods. By using an API-first platform such as Bigcommerce, you give customers abroad confidence by allowing payments to be carried out via the providers they are familiar with there. In this way, you increase the trust in your company which can stimulate growth in other countries.
Multi-Storefront is interesting and suitable for various applications. We show you a few examples that demonstrate how you can use the solution in a targeted way.
By offering a webshop within the domain of a specific country, in the language of that country and with payment and shipping options that are common there, you lower the threshold for first time buyers. This increases the loyalty of local customers. Within a multi storefront, it is possible to calculate shipping costs specifically for individual countries with the shipping companies known there, but local laws and regulations can also be taken into account if they apply to your products.
Offering separate webshops with content tailored to a specific country or region increases the chance of ranking well in a local search engine.
With multi-storefront you are able to create special brandstores. These are web shops around a specific brand for which exclusive distribution partners can take care of the handling. Think for example of shops around specific clothing brands, specialist tools or exclusive soft drink brands. Do you have a portfolio with multiple brands? Then you can use multi-storefront to create a shop or website for each brand. For example, Dorstlust has brand stores for soft drink brands for which it is the exclusive distribution partner in the Netherlands
There are big differences between selling to private consumers (b2c) and business customers (B2B). Consider, for example, certain pricing structures (discounts on fixed orders of a certain size, VAT or no VAT), repeat orders and the possibility of ordering products in bulk batches. By separating the offer, you serve both customer groups according to their own wishes. For example, think about aspects of the transaction process such as the method of ordering, the payment methods to be chosen, invoicing and the organization of your customer service. You can offer different customer segments all customized services, while the processing goes through the same back office.
Are you a manufacturer or distributor? Then you can offer your customers a personalized experience with white-label websites for shops that sell your products.
Do you want to draw extra attention to certain products, product groups or brands? Or do you want to promote a campaign or sales event? With multi-storefront you can easily create category, event or promotion-specific websites. The advantage of this approach? You segment customers and optimize search campaigns and content to increase conversions. This increases your sales and revenue.
Multi-storefront platforms allow you to integrate multiple business models. This makes the step from B2B to B2C or D2C a lot easier. This not only enables you to tap into new target groups, but also enables organizations to reduce the size of the entire chain, which can lead to cost benefits.
In today's e-commerce world, many large companies understand the benefits of selling on multiple marketplaces. Offering your products on various marketplaces increases your reach, broadens your customer base and costs relatively little time and effort. Multi-storefront platforms allow you to set up regional online shops to offer a local experience to shoppers around the world.
Using multi-storefront will bring many benefits to e-commerce businesses. Here are the most important ones.
Do you have a rapidly growing organization? Do you have a product group in mind that you want to sell in a new webshop? And do you want to expand quickly without adding a lot of complex management tasks? With Multi-Storefront, you can scale up quickly and flexibly and have a back office for multiple shops that has been tried and tested in practice. Because you connect your new webshops to your existing infrastructure, you immediately use your existing fulfillment processes, the links to financial systems and any ERP and product information systems. This not only saves a lot of configuration, installation and testing work. The go-to-market time is extremely short, which also ensures that you minimize your risks.
You do not need to duplicate processes. Multi-store allows you to store and manage customer data centrally. This data can also be used across multiple shops, so you never have to spend time searching for customer information again. You can use the same product information for different shops, such as descriptions, product specifications, images, manuals etc.
With Multi-storefront, it is easier to tap into new markets. This can be new product segments, but also other geographical areas. Think of expansion into other countries, the rest of Europe or even other continents. You can communicate in other languages and pay in various foreign currencies. This makes the threshold for winning over new customers a lot lower.
Thanks to multi-storefront, you can quickly expand your customer segments: from B2B to B2C and vice versa. Or even from b2b to d2c. During the corona crisis we’ve learned how important optimal flexibility is in this area. With multi-storefront there is also no question of either-or, both-and: you can easily set up and manage multiple shops in the aforementioned formats.
Working with multi-storefront means working with future-proof technology. The solutions currently available in the market are often cloud native, headless and have an API-first approach. This ensures that you can connect a multi-storefront to your existing back office without too much complex development (provided that your back office has API integration possibilities). Creating new webshops is also fast and efficient. This way, you are always prepared for new market developments, trends and changing customer needs.
Consumers are more critical than ever and expect brands and companies to be present on the digital platforms they use themselves. Also, these brands need to tailor their presence to the platform-specific needs of consumers. Think of inspiration on Instagram, interaction on Tiktok and communication via Whatsapp. By applying a headless solution, you can show your content in multiple places, so customers see the same information in your webshop, website, app or marketplace and have the same uniform brand experience.
The step towards delivering an omnichannel experience is smaller when you use multi-storefront. Because you manage multiple shops and sites from the same backend, it is easy to deliver a high and uniform level of quality in terms of performance, design and user experience. This paves the way to an authentic omnichannel experience for the customer.
Of course, an MSF solution does not have only advantages. There can also be important reasons not to opt for a multi-storefront, such as when:
There are big differences between the stores;
Products have different ways of fulfillment;
Product information and data is too diverse;
Different back-office systems are used ERP, DMS or PIM;
Different teams work with the system.
It is always important to determine in advance whether it is smarter to have different admin panels or just 1.
So there are plenty of advantages for companies that use the multi-storefront concept. But how do you create a high-quality e-commerce platform that combines all these great features? We will tell you.
First map out exactly what you want with your e-commerce and online activities, now and in the future. Launching a brand store is easier and has less impact on your organization than tapping into a completely new market. Are you going from b2c to serving business customers? Then your back office needs to be equipped to handle different pricing, discount mechanisms, repeat orders and bulk orders.
Choose the right payment options. Think, for example, of purchase on invoice for business customers and international payment options for customers outside the Netherlands. The more different payment options you integrate, the larger your potential customer base will become.
Make sure you support different delivery scenarios. Examples are:
Store-to-door. In this concept, the customer orders online and the retailer ships the product directly. The customer can follow his order online.
Click-and-collect means that the customer orders a product online and picks it up in the physical shop.
Standard or express delivery. In the latter case, the customer benefits from a faster delivery via a courier service.
When setting up your shop in Multi-Storefront, also consider custom shipping rules. For example, extra shipping costs for heavy products or special rules for fragile goods.
VAT rates (especially international) and shipping costs are subject to regular change and are determined, among other things, by current economic developments. You should therefore ensure that you can always calculate these costs in real time. This way, you and your customers will not be faced with unpleasant surprises.
Are you going abroad with your e-commerce? Then make sure you have good multilingual support, both in terms of staffing and tooling. Think for example of a publicly accessible multilingual knowledge base to offer proactive customer support. Customers really appreciate it when you offer them information, service and support in their own language.
Choose a separate set-up of Google Analytics for each webshop, especially if you also focus on foreign countries. Digital user behaviour differs per country. There can also be differences in digital search and purchasing behaviour per demographic target group.
UX design is an important part of an e-commerce platform and the customer experience. With a country-specific UX-design you can reflect cultural aspects, habits and trends in the design. For example, think of aligning text from right to left for oriental users.
Are you also convinced of the power and advantages of Multi-Storefront? Then feel free to contact Touchtribe. Our e-commerce experts can help you with the design and optimal rollout of a multi-storefront proposition.