Multi-Site Shopping Carts and Databases
As the web continues to become more competitive, businesses will try to differentiate themselves from the competition in more aggressive ways. For some companies this means more innovation, for other companies it means faster and better service, for still other companies, it means developing a closer relationship with customers. In a few companies, it means all of the above.
For retailers competing on-line, the most economical way of differentiating themselves from the competition is to develop a closer relationship with their customers. Why is this most economical? Because web sites are easy to build and maintain. It's relatively easy for a retailer to pick out important customer segments and build web sites for those segments.
The problem for the vast majority of retailers who use shopping carts is that the shopping cart was designed to support only one web site. The restriction can be found in the shopping cart source code, and the shopping cart database. There is no way that the shopping cart can support even one additional web site.
Even if a shopping cart software firm modified its software so orders could flow from multiple web sites to a single database, the retailer would be faced with issues like these:
Orders must be tracked by web site. Why? Because marketing wants to know which web sites generated which orders. Customers want shipping and credit card documents to display the correct web site name. Internet specialists want to know which web sites have the highest conversion rates, etc. Therefore, orders from one web site can not be co-mingled with orders from another web site.
Customers can't be co-mingled between web sites. It's spooky for a customer to arrive at a web site they've never seen before and find their credit card number displayed on the screen. It strikes of Big Brother.
Product names, descriptions, and even prices will probably be different between web sites. Why? Because different customer segments will be interested in different characteristics of the same product. Also, pricing for a product on a high end web site may be higher than pricing for the same product on a discount web site, perhaps because the high end web site offers additional services / warranties etc.
The database might contain configuration settings that influence how the web site operates. A configuration setting that makes sense in the first web site may not make sense in the second web site, but if there's only one place to set the configuration setting, then both web sites must operate the same way.
There are other examples, but hopefully the point is clear. A product retailer can't simply use a database that was designed to support one web site to now support two or more web sites.
To get around these problems, the retailer needs a shopping cart that was designed to support multiple web sites from the start. Additionally, the retailer wants only one copy of the shopping cart engine. If the retailer has to maintain multiple copies of the engine, web site administration costs go up.
The NextLevelShopper Multi-Site Shopping Cart System solves these problems for the retailer. The system has been designed for multi-web site environments. In fact, both the database and the source code have been built from the ground up to support product retailers who want to operate multiple web sites (or at least want the option to operate multiple web sites).
Using NextLevelShopper, retailers can add web sites quickly, easily, and economically. Customers and orders are all tracked by web site. The product master file can be easily shared by all web sites, and at the same time, contain unique product information for selected web sites.
If you'd like to learn more about how micro-sites, micro-retailing, and multi-site retailing can help your business, we would love to hear from you. Please fill out this contact form
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