Using multiple online stores not only helps you reach out to new market segments, it can also improve how well you interact with your customer base. By tailoring the presentation of your sites, brand, and products to different markets, customers can be served more effectively and efficiently. Successful online retailers design an online presence that puts their products in front of the right customers in a way that best suits the needs of different customers.
Multiple websites can help achieve this goal. Here are some key ways to leverage different online stores to drive more sales.
Separation based on brand
If your company has multiple brands, keeping each brand identity intact and encapsulated helps with both maintaining your branding and providing a streamlined customer experience.
Example: A clothing company sells two separate lines: One is lower-cost and more geared towards current trends, while the other has a higher cost and is geared towards a more traditional image. Customers who are interested in one of these lines typically have low interest in the other.
This type of separation does not need to be absolute. Many clothing companies separate different brands into different online stores, but the stores often openly link to each other to ensure customers are aware of the other options available should they want to shop for a different need or style.
Separation based on products
When online stores have a wide variety of products, some products may be geared to customers with different needs. The greater the range of needs, the less effective a one-size-fits-all approach can be. Separating the products into different sites allows you to create a better, more targeted user experience for customers with different product needs.
Example: A company sells both original and aftermarket parts for a few different car manufacturers. Offering different sites for each manufacturer gives the following benefits:
- SEO: Each site will be more targeted towards potential customers search for parts for their make and model. While a product selector tool may achieve the same goal of restricting which products meet a customer’s needs, all of your pages on each different site can be more explicitly tailored for the SEO terms that will improve the site’s visibility in search results.
- Customer experience: A customer looking for parts for a specific car will be presented with only the options relevant to their brand of car, making the purchasing process easier. The easier it is for customers to find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to purchase that product and other related items.
Keep in mind that this product separation does not need to be “across the board” for all products. If accessories such as sunshades or cell phone chargers will work for both types of cars, for example, these products can still be listed on both without sacrificing any of the benefits of separating out the specific products.
Separation based on customer type
Selling to resellers and end consumers require different approaches and website features to be successful. Some aspects you may find integral to your B2B online presence may be partially or wholly unsuited to present to your B2C customers. Keeping these sites separate allows you to customize each site’s experience to better serve the needs of each type of customer, as well as your own. Some prime examples are:
- Customer registration: You may wish to restrict access to your B2B site to known, vetted business entities but allow open registration for your B2C store.
- Pricing: Separate sites not only allow for separation of retail vs. wholesale pricing, but you can also choose to have different thresholds for volume discounts.
- Payment: You can offer payment on terms for B2B customers without showing this as an option for B2C customers.
- Metrics: Having separate online stores will allow you to easily track direct consumer sales separately from wholesale transactions.
As with the other types of separation mentioned previously, the key focus is the customer experience. In this scenario, the widely different customer needs and available options to meet these needs can drastically differ. Providing customers with the experience that best meets their needs can increase both customer confidence and their impression of the benefits you provide as the vendor.
Separation based on target market
Even if your products themselves do not need to be separated based on their attributes, it can often be beneficial to have separate sites based on the different types of customers who may buy the product for different reasons. Just as opening a new brick-and-mortar store across town reaches new customers based on location, having multiple online stores allows you to engage a different market segment. These different market segments can vary based on customer location, differing customer needs for the same products, or even different shopping behaviors. Additional sites can not only reach new customers, but can be specifically tailored to what different market segments look for when making purchases.
Example: A medical supply company has realized that an increasing number of customers are purchasing surgical tools such as clamps for hobby and electrical work. A separate website can not only limit the products used by hobbyists, but can reposition the tools for their intended use; for example, featuring product descriptions that refer to hemostats as “heat sinks” or “clamping pliers.”
In addition to using your own separate online stores, also consider that selling through other e-commerce websites can help you reach new customers with minimal effort. A great example is Amazon: By using an Amazon Marketplace to expand your online presence, you will reach customers who primarily do their online shopping on Amazon. Many of these customers tend to select the best product on Amazon and may never even venture out to find your existing online store.
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