There are many ways to approach having an eCommerce store, especially if you use the Shopify platform. However, things can become complicated if you are a parent company with multiple brands needing individual stores. Though each brand will have its own personality and eCommerce requirements, you’re likely to want an effective and efficient way to maintain multiple sites. In this post, we’ll discuss how a parent company can achieve this with multi-store, multi-brand architecture!

1. What is multi-store multi-brand architecture?

Multi-store multi-brand architecture means using one master theme to build multiple Shopify stores for multiple brands that all sit under one parent company. When one parent company is operating a variety of brands, multiple websites will likely be needed, one for each brand.

Instead of designing and developing individual websites, one best practice master template can be used and then duplicated and customised for individual brands. It’s an efficient and cost-effective way of creating multiple websites that all share the same code base yet still reflect the unique personality of different brands.

2. How does multi-brand multi-store architecture differ from multi-store architecture?

Multi-stores on Shopify.

Multi-stores on Shopify have one brand, meaning there is no parent company with multiple stores for the same brand. For example, SourceBMX has the same custom theme for five separate SourceBMX branded Shopify websites: the UK, EU, Australia and the rest of the world. This enables them to have different local currencies, as well as allows them to localise the website content on each website. For example, they can reflect the different seasons in different hemispheres and sell different products in different locations. It also enables them to use local languages, such as UK English versus Australian English, which have different tones of voice and phrases. Though Shopify Markets allows brands to have the same eCommerce store across five different markets, it doesn’t have the functionality to tailor the content in the same way you can with separate stores.

Multi-brand multi-stores on Shopify.

Instead of one company having multiple stores for the same brand, multi-brand multi-store architecture involves one master theme used for multiple brands that all sit under one parent company. For example, cycling and outdoor sports distributor ZyroFisher has a master theme for nine brands (details in section five below), whereas sustainable packaging solutions company IPL Global has a master theme that’s been personalised for two brands: DTC brand EvenGreener and B2B brand Get Composting. Similarly, Greenover Sports has a master theme for multiple brands, including Dogg Scooters and Rocky Mountain UK.

Each master theme is managed centrally by blubolt, so any development work completed by blubolt can be rolled out to all the individual brand websites using the master theme.

If the parent company wants to add new individual brand stores over time, blubolt can add these using the master theme and make updates to tailor it to the brand.

Aspects of the website, such as Product Information Management (PIMM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Fulfilment, are all managed by the parent company.

3. How do we create a multi-brand, multi-store architecture website?

At blubolt, we put a lot of time and energy into delivering the ideal multi-brand, multi-store architecture website for our clients. This is split into two phases: the discovery phase and the design phase.

Discovery phase.

The discovery phase is centred around learning as much as we can about the various brands, stores and the parent company. It’s where we flesh out the complexities of the work that needs to be done, discover what each brand requires and ensure that we can apply it to the master theme. This is also where we choose the tech stack and go into great detail with the parent company to ensure that we are choosing the best tech stack to work across all brand websites.

Design phase.

The design phase is where the websites are designed to ensure that the bespoke master theme will work across all brand websites. We set up ‘brand specific overrides’, whereby eCommerce managers can override certain elements of the page to make sure that it works for one particular brand. The different brand websites can have different colours, fonts and designs so that they reflect the look and feel of each individual brand.

4. The benefits of multi-store, multi-brand architecture on Shopify Plus.

Support multiple brands. Multi-store multi-brand architecture provides a framework that can support each of the brands sitting under a parent company, with the ability to create websites that look unique and individual.

  • Keep it simple. It’s a simplified way of adding new brands to an eCommerce portfolio in a cost-effective way. It’s cheaper to build one master theme and use it for various brands and to build various new websites.

  • Fuss-free standardisation. Standardisation is possible with multi-store, multi-brand architecture, as one team can create multiple websites and update them all simultaneously. If one layout works well for one brand, it can be easily used for the other brands. As Richard Ayles, Head of Development at Blubolt, explains: “We can share features and functionality across brands without compromising design.”

  • Easy to add new brands. With multi-store, multi-brand architecture, it’s easier to add new brands to the parent company’s portfolio, as a new website can be rolled out quickly. There’s no need to start a new website from scratch, so new brands can be launched quickly using a website theme that is proven to work.

  • Single tech stack. Multiple technologies can be consolidated into a single technology stack with multi-store, multi-brand architecture, creating a stable solution that allows a business to focus on eCommerce growth without worrying about how their websites will fit, evolve and grow with them.

5. Multi-store multi-brand architecture examples.


Partner of over 60 of the world’s leading brands, ZyroFisher is a highly-respected distributor of cycling and outdoor sports brands across the UK and Europe.

ZyroFisher was hosting eight brands on VisualSoft (with the exception of FastHouse, which was already on Shopify) and had different CMS setups for each, making internal team collaboration between brands very difficult. So, by migrating all nine brands to Shopify, ZyroFisher ended up with:

  • One “parent” theme so each of the nine brands could be “children” of that parent theme, meaning each child theme reflected the individual brand guidelines,

  • An identical backend setup for each of the nine sites to enable seamless management of the +60 brands they distribute and

  • A setup that enabled the ZyroFisher team to manage multiple sites without having to learn any new technologies when moving between brands.

“The biggest technical challenge was creating one parent theme with the nine brands all being children of that theme. Then building the site in a way that allows for maximum flexibility when creating pages to ensure each of the nine sites reflects the individual brand,” says Jon MacKinnon, Senior Frontend Developer at blubolt. “So we started the project with a thorough audit of each site and noting all the frequently used blocks shared across all sites. We then included these in the new parent theme, meaning they can be used across all the child sites. As a result, managing the sites is far easier and more efficient for the ZyroFisher content team, and the past difficulties with teams collaborating have been solved.”

Another benefit of this approach is that blubolt can make changes in one place and deploy the changes across multiple sites, meaning ZyroFisher only needs to budget for one piece of additional work rather than nine.

“Our migration to Shopify with blubolt was a strategic decision," says Abby Carter, Head of eCommerce at ZyroFisher. "Having worked with lots of eCommerce platforms, I knew that Shopify would give us the flexibility and adaptability to handle a high volume of brands easily. I was also confident that blubolt understood the technical complexity of what we needed and could deliver it! As a result, we’re now able to focus on user experience, retention, and conversion to drive revenue and brand growth.” Read more on the project here.

Greenover Sports.

Greenover Sports is a leading action sport importer and distributor in the UK and Europe, specialising in the surf, scooter, skate and mountain bike disciplines. As such, Greenover operates a number of brands under the parent company and is a perfect candidate for a multi-store, multi-architecture site.

Madeleine Gale, Designer at blubolt, said: “Greenoever wanted the ability to create a distinct look and feel for each brand while ensuring each website could be easily maintained and adapted”. As such, blubolt delivered a bespoke master Shopify Plus theme that can be tailored for each brand. The theme focuses on making the user journey easier and more enjoyable and incorporating sleek lifestyle imagery and videos.

This master theme was first used for the Dogg Scooters brand and is now in the process of being translated across Green Overhead, Rocky Mountain and a Greenover B2B solution. All of these sub-websites have a unique brand feel while utilising all the settings and Shopify Online Store 2.0 features blubolt provided.

IPL Global.

Another blubolt client with multiple brands under one umbrella is IPL Global. As a leading packaging provider that delivers sustainable solutions to DTC and B2B markets, the company had multiple brands needing websites.

IPL Global now has one finely tuned master theme that has been tailored and rolled out to the DTC brand EvenGreener and B2B brand Get Composting.

“We had some pretty ambitious goals for both websites. blubolt’s talented developers were excited about the challenge and found creative ways to migrate us to Shopify. We will never look back," admits Marta Palczewska, eCommerce Marketing & Sales Manager at IPL Global.

Voilà: that’s how you do multi-brand, multi-store architecture on Shopify!

So that’s our round-up of multi-store, multi-brand architecture: what it is, how it differs from plain old multi-store architecture, how we’ve created that setup for clients, the benefits of doing so, plus three great examples. If you’re a parent company managing multiple brands, this approach is worth considering for an effective, efficient, and budget-friendly way to maintain multiple sites.

Looking to create something similar for your own eCommerce store?

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