Setting up multiple e-commerce stores for your business may work in the short term, but soon you’ll be overwhelmed by the tedious work of synchronizing inventories, brand marketing and other operational tasks across the platforms. The answer? A multi-domain e-commerce platform. Multi-domain e-commerce markets are currently growing at significant rates, with estimations of about 56% in 2015–2020. Physical merchants are encountering challenges because of their online counterparts’ ability to offer cheaper rates and higher productivity, so it’s time for you to take the jump to the future.
What Is A Multi-Domain E-Commerce Platform?
One of the easiest ways to start an online store is to host one on your domain. In this setup, a single domain, such as plushtoys.com is linked to the e-commerce store. A multi-domain e-commerce platform architecture has a common e-commerce backend linked to multiple domains. For instance, you may have plushtoys.com, buildingblocks.com, and toddlergifts.com linking to a single e-commerce platform. This enables targeting multiple market segments with different branding strategies while maintaining a common online inventory list.
Single Domain Vs Multi-Domain E-Commerce Solution
While both single domain and multi-domain serve the primary purpose of e-commerce, the advantages of the latter in businesses are obvious when a business is considering expansion in these areas.
New Market Segment
A multi-domain e-commerce setup is almost the same as normal e-commerce, but with a crucial tweak to it that ensures merchants divide and reach distinct market groups on separate domains, therefore tailoring the visual presentation for each market according to their tastes. For instance, a merchant specialized in apparels could have two domains, one tailored for ladies’ wear while the other focusing on men’s clothing. The two market segments can further be subdivided to cater for more specific needs. Each gender segment, for instance, could be divided into footwear and normal attires. This network of domains is actually tied to one consolidate e-commerce platform, facilitating the ability to gather a broader range of analytics than a single-domain e-commerce setup would ever provide. More data means better ways to study your clientele base and to adjust your marketing strategies accordingly, leading to better conversions.
Another angle to view the multi-domain e-commerce setup is on the dynamics of international trade. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a setup where anyone in the world would have a separate domain specially customized for that region to cater for language and shipping costs? Those are the kinds of ingenious solutions we at Netcore offer to our clients, providing the top e-commerce CMS customization solutions. In the e-commerce world, each website you own represents a new business opportunity, with the power to penetrate a new niche and create new revenue streams. With each revenue channel, you create, you increase your income gradually. The only limiting factor will be your prowess in marketing your business to reach these new opportunities and the e-commerce logistics solutions you will put in place. In the long run, this strategy is usually more successful than keeping a single-domain e-commerce platform. A Multi-Domain E-commerce setup follows a very simple pattern, which might be longer or shorter, depending on the type of business or merchant using it. However, depending on your business focus or the type of merchant you are (either selling physical goods, digital services or digital goods) all the patterns mostly follow the same process:
The Various Types Of Multi-Domain E-Commerce Solution
There are many types of multi-domain e-commerce solutions around. However, we can broadly classify them in two categories: by merchants, as explained above, or by the parties involved, which is a bit more complex:
A. Business to Consumer (B2C):
We call it B2C e-commerce when the transactions happen between businesses and consumers, like your typical online retail store, IKEA or Best Buy, where a business sells products or services to end-users or consumers.
B. Business to Business (B2B):
This is when the transactions are conducted between two businesses. Any company whose customers are other businesses operate on a B2B e-commerce solutions model. Examples of this kind of arrangement are the SAP, a huge ERP provider for big companies, or even us, Netcore.
C. Consumer to Business (C2B):
A relatively new model in comparison, on Consumer to Business e-commerce the value is driven or offered by the consumer, who sells or contributes to the monetary value of a business. It’s the base of many crowdsourcing campaign platforms, like Kickstarter or FundThis.
D. Consumer to Consumer (C2C):
Perfectly exemplified on eBay, a C2C e-commerce transaction happens when the product or service is bought and sold between two consumers. It’s most easily found on online marketplaces.
E. Government to ANYONE (G2B, B2G, G2C):
This happens on any transaction between either a business or a person and the government. Examples of this are when a company pays taxes using the Internet, a City Hall PR office hiring a web agency firm to update its website, or you, paying your last traffic ticket on the traffic office website.
Does Your Business Need A Multi-Domain E-Commerce Solution?
Every business has its specific requirements and often are in a different stage of growth. The virtue of having a multi-domain e-commerce platform may not be viable for some businesses. If your business is at its initial phase of growth and there are no immediate plans of expansion, it is better to stick with a single domain e-commerce platform. However, if you’re planning to expand product lines, market segments or targeting customers in different countries, you should start planning to have a unified e-commerce platform linked by various domains. The same applies, although with greater urgency when your operational team is having a tough time in synchronizing inventories and sales between the multiple individual e-commerce platforms. It is obvious, although unwelcomed symptoms that a multi-domain e-commerce setup is long overdue.
Top Considerations When Choosing A Multi-Domain E-Commerce Solution
You’ve probably decided that your business does indeed require a multi-domain e-commerce solution. The next step involves choosing the right solution that suits your business requirements. As not all multi-domain e-commerce platforms are created equal, here are what you should pay attention to when comparing between vendors.
1. User-Friendly Interface
It is unlikely that your e-commerce team is fond of browsing through pages of manuals just to generate transaction reports from the platform. When choosing a multi-domain e-commerce solution, you’ll want to have the user interface to be user-friendly. The user interface must be designed so that individuals with minimal knowledge in IT have no problem navigating through the menus and functions. The solution should also enable creating and managing pages on various domains within a single interface.
2. Flexible Product Management
A good multi-domain e-commerce solution is more than the ability to support multiple domains. The platform should enable users to customize products according to their business requirements. You should be able to categorize your products easily according to types and also segregating discounted products. Product management should also involve the ease in changing the colors or templates to provide a unique look at your online store.
3. International Sales Support
The benefits of having an e-commerce business are the ability to transcend physical boundaries when it comes to generating sales. As such, a multi-domain e-commerce solution should provide great support for international expansion. This includes multilingual support, where text translations in multiple languages can be stored in the system and customers have the option to select the language of their choice. Besides, the solution should feature dynamic shipping and payment options. It enables customers to calculate the shipping cost and choose from a variety of supported payment options.
4. 3rd Party Integration
Chances are, your company is using 3rd party applications for managing accounts and other operational tasks. Instead of manually transferring data between platforms, you’ll want to have a multi-domain e-commerce solution that supports integration with popular enterprise software such as the MS Dynamics Axapta ERP.
5. High-Performance Secure Server
An e-commerce platform is as good as the server it is hosted on. As you have forecasted an incremental growth in sales in the near future, your online store should be hosted on a high-performance server that is protected by the latest security features. It will be senseless to risk having your e-commerce store taken out by a cyber attack or goes offline because of a subpar server. Besides losing out in revenue, such scenarios paint a bad image on the business.
6. Professional Training And Support
Multi-domain e-commerce platforms often shared existing proven technological stacks, but with user interfaces and business functions customized to suit a specific business. As such, you’ll want to ensure the vendor not only delivers a functional solution but also provides training and support.
Now that you know how various multi-domain e-commerce setups work to declutter your stores, it’s time to budget. Remember to take into consideration every aspect of your business. As it is with all software, the “right” solution will always depend on the merchant and his or her products. Contact our team at Netcore if you need a better understanding of multi-domain e-commerce platform for your business or need advice on how to properly implement it.