Having one online store is awesome, but having two is even better. Here’s why. Ecommerce merchants are vying for customers’ attention. They are in constant battle with competitors, and those with stellar marketing strategies often rise to the top. But fighting against two will always prove more challenging than throwing down against one, especially if the pair is armed with the knowledge and tools needed to excel in the heat of battle.

OK – Enough with the extended metaphors. Let me give it to you straight. With two online stores, your profit margins will increase, your visibility will escalate and your existing brand will develop a unique, extended identity.

When we talk about operating two stores, it’s important to keep in mind that we don’t necessarily mean two completely separate/different ecommerce websites. In fact, we think two stores makes the most sense for small-to-medium size merchants who want to market some of their existing products to a different target audience.

Let’s assume for a moment that you sell clothing items in your online store and your current marketing efforts are aimed at 30-50 year-old men. As an e-store owner, you realize that your tee shirts line isn’t performing as well as some of your other lines, and that’s when having two stores can help.

Continuing to play off this example, the assumed merchant mentioned above might be well served to create a second online store that does nothing but exclusively market and sell the current brand’s struggling line.  By doing so, he/she can effectively advertise their tees to perhaps a more youthful, receptive audience without having to sacrifice brand identity. So while website A continues to do well with the 30-50 crowd, website B will sell some of the same products as website A with a marketing strategy that is more aptly tailored to a different target demographic.

If opening a second online store sounds like a good idea, that’s because it is. Now I know what you’re thinking. How can I free up the time to create a second store when I’m already struggling to manage just one, and that’s where we come in.

Creating a subsidiary brand name is also smart, so if your original store is known as Fashion by Felicity, consider naming your second store Designer Tees by Felicity (or something like that). This will allow you to maintain brand recognition while also extending visibility.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your business. Our job is to arm you with the tools needed to be successful in a competitive market, and in the world of ecommerce, we think two is always better than one.

We see three main reasons why a store owner may launch another store featuring some of the same products:

  • Selling in different languages
  • Targeting shoppers more accurately
  • Dominating search rankings

We don’t suggest this strategy for everyone. It’s important to consider your business needs before you set up a second (or even third) store. But, if you’re considering it, here’s a breakdown of the benefits.

Selling in Other Countries

Lots of 3dcart stores are located in the U.S. (although we do have stores in 15 countries). Just because you’re based here doesn’t mean you can’t open a second store to new markets in other countries.

Of course, opening a store in another country may require an entirely different storefront. You wouldn’t want a store targeting customers in Spain to be in English, for example. Different countries demand unique websites -- even if they feature the same products.

For stores in different languages sharing the same products, synchronized inventory makes a lot of sense.

Segmenting Your Audience for Targeted Marketing

Another consideration may be a segmented audience. It’s always easier to speak to your audience when they’re in narrower, more targeted places. As a result, some people set up different stores to target different audiences with the same or overlapping products.

For instance, if you run a sporting goods superstore that covers every sport, you may consider segmenting goods by sport type. You could create different stores for each sport you want to focus on. With the new inventory sync plug-in, purchases made in the targeted stores reflect in the inventory of the superstore, ensuring you avoid potentially costly inventory errors.

Dominating the Search Results

While we wouldn’t suggest this as your priority for creating multiple stores, search domination may be an extra benefit of setting up extra stores. With the same products listed on multiple sites, your business will have more visibility in comparison shopping engines and in general search results.

How to Clone Your Main Store

Website cloning involves creating a copy of your existing 3dcart store. This process is useful to those who want to start a new online store -- similar to their existing one -- without having to recreate product libraries, customization options, etc…

For those looking to create an extension of their brand, cloning everything in your main store is the best way to go. If you’re looking to create a new brand altogether, we recommend the design-only option.

After cloning

Don’t expect to have your second 3dcart store up and running in a matter of days. Even if you’ve selected the clone-everything option, there will still be a significant amount of work that must be done to ensure website optimization and distinction. Below you will find a list of tasks that will help you stay organized and on point.

  • Revamp inventoryImmediately after cloning your 3dcart store, start revamping your copied product library to include only the items you want to sell in Store B. For example, if you sell fashion accessories in your original store but want to sell sunglasses only in your new store, simply delete the products you don’t need.
  • Rename productsContinuing to work off the sunglasses example, if you sell black Ray-Ban Wayfarer’s in both stores, you will need to rename that product in Store B. In other words, if Store A names that particular pair of sunglasses “Black Ray-Ban Wayfarers,” Store B should name the same product something like “Stylish Ray-Ban Wayfarer Sunglasses in Black.” Renaming products will eliminate the need of having to reshoot product photos while ensuring Google will not dub your content as duplicate when it crawls your site.
  • Choose a new template 3dcart offers a wide selection of premium templates that have all been optimized to work flawlessly with the most recent version of our shopping cart software, v6.0. After cloning your store and revamping your product library, then it’s time to select a new template. When all things are said and done, your new store should have a unique feel and identity, one that’s separate but tied to your original brand.
  • CustomizationCustomization involves tailoring your store to meet the unique needs of your business and should always be completed with user experience in mind. For example, make sure your new online store is easy to navigate, and this may involve altering your existing header, footer and categories list.  When your new store’s roadmap has been defined, then it will be time to implement and optimize enhanced ecommerce features.
  • Features Each premium template offered by 3dcart now has a homepage slider feature. This allows e-store owners to showcase products, promotions and company messages on the homepage of their website in stunning fashion. This is a must-have addition for all online store owners, and when building out your second site, be sure to utilize the new features offered by 3dcart so you can continue to get the most out of your ecommerce experience.
  • Web copySearch engines -- like Google – penalize websites with duplicate content, and this can kill your ecommerce ventures faster than you can ask “What happened?” When working on website copy for your second store, make it unique and completely separate from Store A, especially if you sell some of the same products in Store B. Take your time with this, and consider using product videos as an alternative to written descriptions.
  • Sync your inventory – The Multiple Stores Inventory Sync plugin will allow to keep real-time inventory across all of your stores. One store will work as the Master Store housing centralized inventory. Additional stores will be considered Child Stores that subscribe to the Master Store’s product library. Any changes applied to the stock of your products in the Master Store will propagate automatically to all of your Child Stores, and as orders are received in Child Stores, a real-time update will notify the Master Store so it can deduct corresponding inventory.
  • Fine tune – If you accept online payments via PayPal in Store A, you will need to re-enter your merchant credentials in Store B. The same is true for your selected shipping carrier(s) and any other third party application you may be using. This will ensure both stores operate under the same accounts. In addition to reestablishing preset payment and shipping credentials, now’s the time to fine tune all other aspects of your website including, but not limited to, call-to-action buttons, special deals and promotions, newsletter sign-up fields, company email campaigns, social media extensions, etc…

Keeping Stock Between Multiple Stores

f you're running multiple online stores on the 3dcart eCommerce platform, you can kiss complex inventory management goodbye thanks to the release of a new inventory management feature.

Multi-Store Product Sync is designed to make inventory management across multiple stores simple and easy. This new plug-in allows the eCommerce store owner to share inventory across all his/her stores. When a customer orders an item, the inventory count for that item is automatically adjusted on each store the item is sold. Now, instead of uploading inventory levels to multiple stores, it only has to be done once.

If you've been putting off opening a second store because of the challenges of inventory management, now is the perfect time to reconsider. Additional stores allow you to sell in different countries by opening a new storefront in a different language or allow you to speak to a segment of the marketplace your main store doesn't have by opening a store that caters to a specific demographic. Of course, one of the biggest benefits of opening additional stores is to dominate the marketplace and the search engine results, assuming you take the correct approach with content.

One thing to remember, even though this new feature makes it easy to manage inventory across multiple stores, it doesn't eliminate the task of uploading inventory daily. You owe it to your shoppers and your bottom line to keep your inventory up-to-date by refreshing it at least once per day and immediately after out-of-stock items have been received.

Marketing Your New Store

Now that you’ve cloned your store, chose a new template, revamped your product library, rewrote merchandise descriptions, optimized your website, included a wealth of enhanced ecommerce features and fine-tuned the details, then it’s time for some marketing. Like it or not, this includes the creation of social media profiles uniquely tied to your second 3dcart store.

Even if you already have social media extensions for Store A, you will need to create unique profiles for Store B.  There’s no getting around this. The big four for ecommerce merchants are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube, and all of them are must-haves when looking to effectively market your brand(s).

Once you’ve created social extensions for Store B, it will then be time to start advertising. You can do this through PPC, sponsored posts, newsletters, blogs, etc… Email marketing is also a great way to attract your existing army of loyal shoppers to your subsidiary brand.

Shortly after launching your second store, send a newsletter to your existing clients to let them know it’s up and running. Be sure to provide a working link to your site along with URLs to its various social media profiles. It's also a good idea to create a purchasing incentive inside the newsletter. For example, offer loyal shoppers a 30% Off code that they can use as first-time buyers in your new store. This will help drive traffic to your store immediately after its open.

Conclusion

When creating a second ecommerce website, keep its identity separate yet tied to the first. The idea is to extend your brand’s visibility by selling some of the same products in both stores. When selecting which products to sell, play to a niche market. If you sell fashion accessories in Store A, accessories that include designer sunglasses, than consider selling only designer sunglasses in Store B.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your business. Our job is to arm you with the tools needed to be successful in a competitive market, and in the world of ecommerce, we think two is always better than one.