Pros and Cons of a Magento multi-store set up

Thinking about setting up multiple ecommerce websites, Magento offers a ‘multi-store’ function allowing the website owner to have one content management system to manage the store but working across multiple websites. Recently we were asked to provide one of our clients with the pro’s and con’s of using a Magento multi-store framework, below we highlight our thoughts:

Separate websites only make sense when one of these criteria apply:

  • Different prices – across the stores
  • Different tax classes
  • Different (base) currencies
  • Different payment options
  • Different shipping options
  • Different customer accounts per country

Pros:

  • Single customer database
  • Single administration
  • Single list of orders
  • Single hosting plan
  • Split inventory into more focussed areas – you can easily target keywords and phrases (Travertine on travertinedirect.co.uk and other products on M2Direct, etc)
  • SEO Benefits:
    • Less categorisation – if you focus on specialist areas e.g. ‘LED Televisions’
    • Definition of categorise – more obviously defined to include main keywords
  • Flexible in configuration – one database, multiple outlets
  • Single SSL – only one payment gateway, saving cost
  • Theme based – Magento uses a theme framework (with customisation), can be adapted in the future
  • Common set of t&c’s, returns policy, etc
  • Responsive framework’s – all can be made mobile friendly
  • Third party integrations – Magento is global and supported by most common pieces of software, including your existing in-house management software
  • Sage line 50 – direct integration with Sage Line 50
  • Affiliate integration – owned by Ebay…supports direct integration with all recognised affiliate channels (Ebay, amazon, Play)
  • Extension based – global development and support of extensions, if something new appears then an extension will be developed
  • Open source – global development team working on Magento, regular updates, patches and support
  • Feature rich, out of the box – Magento has been built to include all top-line ecommerce features from the initial installation
  • Flexibility – the development environment allows you to customise pretty much any element
  • Scalability – Magento is built to service stores with 10 products through to 10’s of thousands

Cons:

  • Big parts of the catalog data can get duplicated for multiple stores/websites
  • Memory footprint per request rises as Magento builds the config XML tree for all websites. However with a decent server and small catalogs this shouldn’t be a problem (our server could easily handle this)
  • Not practical for international sales (currency issues)
  • Hosting costs – increase, need durable, stable…high performing servers, key element of Magento is the hosting environment, need a dedicated server
  • Single IP – main store hosted from one location (but with multiple URL’s)
  • Duplicate content – sharing product inventory across multiple sites
  • Fail safe – if Magento goes down so does all your sites
  • Support fee – on-going maintenance fee, ensuring ‘up-time’
  • Customer data transfer – from existing framework, has been noted it can cause an exodus of existing customers
  • Product database – needs investigation but the migration from one store to another, Interspire is pretty locked down…need to re-build the product inventory
  • Time – Magento has a complex architecture that takes time to develop
  • Good developers – hard to come by and expensive

Further reading: Zion & Zion wrote about this at length recently: http://www.zionandzion.com/pros-and-cons-of-magento/

Author Gyles Seward

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