Using Multi-Site, Multi-Store Shopping Carts to Create New Markets


Multi-site and multi-store are synonymous terms

Multi-site retailing is all about using the internet to service specific customer segments. Multi-site retailing works off the premise that a retailer will generate more on-line business if he builds individual web sites for unique customer segments than if he builds a monolithic web site for all customer segments. The premise is based on what marketers have known for centuries. The better you know the needs, preferences, and nuances of your customer base, and the more effectively you communicate how those needs and preferences can be fulfilled, the more success you will have.

For most businesses, building multiple sites is not an issue. Web sites are largely easy to construct and maintain. The product retailer, however, has a different challenge. They sell products. Every product that is sold on-line must have a product master record, and a product master record often consists of dozens of fields. Furthermore, the product master record is often related to other records, like a category record, or an inventory record. Product Master records are inherently complex and difficult to maintain.

For retailers, the product master record is what prevents them from creating multiple web sites. The retailer's shopping cart requires that they create a new copy of the database (and therefore a new copy of the product master file) every time they create a new web site. Now, whenever a product master record needs to change, it needs to be changed in two databases instead of one. Create a third site, and data administration costs almost triple.

Most retailers would love to get around this problem. Retailers would love to find a way to create unique web sites for their important customer segments in a cheap and efficient way. Very few shopping carts, however, allow retailers to do this. A few, however, do, including the shopping cart offered by NextLevelObjects.

NextLevelObjects offers a shopping cart that allows product retailers to create as many web sites / web stores as they want without every duplicating the database (and without duplicating the shopping cart engine). For product retailers this is a boon. Why? Because product retailers can now cheaply and efficiently create multiple web stores, with each web store catering specifically to the needs of an important customer segment. The content of each web site / web store is more crisp, more to the point, and more compelling.

Multi-site (or multi-store) retailing might be called 'micro-retailing'. Micro means small. The question is what 'small' refers to. Should the web site be small? Perhaps. More importantly, it's the customer segment that should be small. Micro-retailing puts the emphasis on the customer segment, and not on the web site. By putting the emphasis on the customer segment, we create a web site that caters to the segment. The customer segment leads, the web site follows.

With the customer segment in charge, creating content for the web site is relatively easy. The retailer doesn't have to compromise. Worries about how other customer segments may interpret a nuance or some arcane lingo is not an issue. The retailer can go straight for the jugular, providing content that will convince, compel, and sell.

Given the ability to create new web stores cheaply and efficiently, product retailers can become opportunistic. If the retailer sees a related market they'd like to penetrate, the retailer can have another web store dedicated to that market finished in weeks, if not days. If things don't work out, no big deal, the investment was small and other opportunities will come along. If however, things go well, then the retailer finds themself with a nice new revenue stream.

Risk, or more precisely, risk mitigation, is what the internet game is all about. The lower your investment, the lower your risk, and the more opportunistic you can be. With a product that supports multiple web stores with one database and one code base, your first shopping cart will be your biggest investment. After that, the incremental costs are nominal, giving the product retailer the chance to play the field and roll the dice.

If you'd like to learn more about how micro-sites, micro-retailing, and multi-site / multi-store retailing can help your business, we would love to hear from you. Please fill in this contact form and the owner and lead developer of NextLevelObjects will contact you ASAP.

Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.