Multi-Storefront For Ecommerce: What It Is, When & How To Use It
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Multi-Storefront For Ecommerce: What It Is, When & How To Use It

In this ecommerce podcast, hosts James & Paul do a talking heads on the use cases for single vs. multi-storefront setups for ecommerce platforms.

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We’ve seen a few businesses pulling back the number of storefronts for ecommerce due to the day-to-day management effort and the cost impact e.g. licensing, maintenance, support etc. There needs to be a clear business case for investing in one or more additional storefronts and businesses really need to be able to measure incremental impact.

In this ecommerce podcast, James Gurd and Paul Rogers James & Paul do a talking heads on the use cases for single vs. multiple storefronts. They provide a clear definition of what multi-storefront means, exploring how the decision impacts ecommerce teams operationally, then cover common use cases for single storefronts with multi-currency and localisation vs. when multi-storefront is a worthwhile and necessary investment.

Tl;dr – what we cover:

  • What we mean by multi-storefront
  • How the decision on your setup impacts you operationally
  • Use cases for single storefronts with multi-currency and localisation
  • Use cases for multi-storefront and key platform considerations

Key Discussion Points

  1. Defining multi storefront and why this is an important topic
    • MSF enables a business to separately manage multiple channels where each store has a unique set of functional requirements (i.e. does more than just enable multiple currencies) and is accessed via a different domain or URL path e.g. mysite.com / mysite.co.uk or mysite.com/en and mysite.com/fr
    • MSF storefronts can be configured independently as well as sharing global properties, for example connect to different payment gateways, connect to different shipping carriers
    • This can be different local country sites for international, or multiple brand sites for a business owning different brands, or even a B2C and B2B setup
    • This may be via a separate login for each storefront or through a central admin login allowing users to switch between store views for day to day management and config
  2. How does your storefront setup impact you operationally?
    • Depending on your platform and requirement, some of the following considerations can be achieved using a single storefront and applying configuration rules e.g. using Magento to display products by default inc VAT but exc VAT for a specific customer group based on login ID
    • Front-end experience: a uniform set of templates for all visitors where content can be personalised (e.g. different banner for people visiting from French IP) vs. tailored design and user journeys per audience
    • Trading: global merchandising rules with personalisation enabled via customer segments vs. being able to tailor merchandising rules for specific site versions independently of others
    • Products: can you customise the product catalogue to restrict SKUs that can’t be sold in specific location, or where a product has an alternative SKU for a country e.g. electrical good with different product version for US 
    • Shipping: ability to set custom shipping options, costs and rules for a shipping destination, including product restrictions
    • Taxation: applying local country sales tax e.g. for US when an item is shipped to that destination, selecting destinations to ship DDU vs. DDP, showing items inc or exc VAT
  3. Use cases for a single storefront:
    • Operating a single brand from a single country of operation (e.g. warehouse in UK with only UK registered business) and internationals sales is small % of revenue
    • Not providing or only minimal localisation of the front-end CX for different audiences, e.g. French visitors seeing the UK site but only localisation is switching to Euro currency
    • Basic geo-targeting of content based on visitor identifier like IP with a CMS that enables the content to change dynamically e.g. content banner version change
  4. Use cases for multiple storefronts:
    • Inventory: need to connect to multiple inventory sources (MLI) to enable fulfilment but platform doesn’t allow that in a single storefront, separate storefront for each stock location e.g. UK points to UK DC, US to US DC etc.
    • Currency: non-base currency sales are large %, platform doesn’t allow you to connect to multiple currency accounts for settlement, use separate stores to minimise FX fee exposure and simplify reconciliation for Finance
    • Legal: trading in a country like Hong Kong is done via 3rd party agent that is fully responsible for site management, they require their own storefront or may even use a different platform entirely
    • Payment: edge case need to use a different payment gateway for a specific country (e.g. in Shopify is can’t use Shopify Payments due to eligibility restrictions) 
    • Distributed teams: local country ecommerce teams responsible for managing and trading the site, likely to want to select appropriate tools for their market not be constrained e.g. merchandising & recommendations with a local language UI, set the default storeview admin language to local language
  5. Using smart config to minimise manual effort:
    • CMS: ability to publish a single asset to multiple storefronts & schedule publishing for local time zone, requires a CMS with the right feature set e.g. Storyblok
    • Select payment provider that covers your core global markets with an all in one solution, reduces integration costs + simplifies reporting e.g. Adyen, Checkout.com, Stripe
    • International address validation tool like Loqate that will work for key countries, not just home country & set defaults based on user location e.g. UK site defaults to UK country selector
  6. An approach to using a decision tree:
    • Do you operate globally and have unique systems and process requirements for one or more local countries YES/NO?
    • If NO, are non-base country sales a small % of total sales i.e. less than 10% YES/NO
    • If YES, can you fulfil these orders from the same web stock file YES/NO
    • If YES, then single storefront most likely the right solution, can then use OMS to flow orders to relevant DCs for shipping if needed
    • If local countries have unique needs and you need to connect to multiple stock locations to fulfil orders, MSF better suited
    • If you run both B2C and B2B where B2B has unique functionality like multi level accounts, payment on credit, custom price books etc – separate storefronts
    • If run multiple brands with unique branding and front-end user journeys, separate storefronts
    • Is the cost of adding a storefront justified or do added costs e.g. apps make it not worthwhile

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