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, 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.

Greenover Sports.

Greenover Sports is a leading action sport importer and distributing 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.

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