August 2nd, 2022 | 5 MIN READ

Why You Shouldn't Use Two Commerce Instances

Written by Pranav Bahadur

Pranav Bahadur is a Product Marketing Manager at Elastic Path living in the Boston area.

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Online businesses are fighting tooth and nail to deliver customer experiences that make them stand out in a sea of similar-looking websites. For some, running multiple storefronts is the best way to give customers different experiences. Often to accommodate other geographies, channels, or brands, businesses run separate storefronts on multiple instances of an eCommerce solution to meet all of their needs. 

In theory, it is a great idea - setting up individual storefronts allows you to target an experience your customers will love. Unfortunately, depending on your eCommerce solution, it is often more challenging to manage and more expensive to run. This post will cover some drawbacks of operating several instances and why you should think carefully before committing to this strategy long-term. 

What Multiple Storefronts Look Like Under The Hood

When selecting an eCommerce solution, in all likelihood, any vendor will claim that it is "possible" during a sales cycle. While this is true, that often glosses over the complications and implications under the hood. A few critical drawbacks of running multiple instances must be kept in mind to achieve your eCommerce goals. 

Double the Cost: Keeping an eye on the costs of running your eCommerce business is an obvious starting point for most customers. A popular choice for running two different brands or storefronts is to keep each in a separate instance of your eCommerce platform. We often hear of customers with a house of brands that want to use Shopify for its perceived simplicity. Each brand setting up an individual store seems like a neat and easy way to manage the particular needs of each brand. 

While this may seem like a minor issue to start with 2-3 instances, if you have plans to scale your eCommerce business, the cost implications can hamstring your revenue growth. They will continue to skyrocket with each new storefront, and any integrations to third-party systems will have to be repeated to ensure that some portion of your eCommerce stack (customer data, for example) is unified. 

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Resource Drain: Managing multiple stores takes time, effort, and coordination for your brand managers and merchandisers. Beyond just the person-hours poured into managing this gargantuan effort, the chances of an error in merchandising also increase as you have more moving pieces to manage. 

Delivering a consistent message or experience across touchpoints will also be more complicated than it needs to be. 

Data Management: In today's online world, leveraging customer data to target your customers better and encourage repeat purchases is crucial. Read our post on the cookie-less future to learn more. With multiple storefronts or instances, this becomes difficult to coordinate. These complexities can stem from attempting to unify customer data or order data housed in a third-party system. 

The eCommerce solution can exacerbate these complexities since some platforms will not let you have multiple prices if you want to develop a specific pricing strategy for a particular country (market entry pricing). 

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Newer technology solutions like CMS options to allow you to sync data across storefronts have entered the market. However, they generally focus on one area. Want to work towards unifying your customer data? That might make unifying your order management or inventory system impossible. Instead, a single platform that can manage every touchpoint and storefront would ensure that your data is centralized, leaving your brand in a better position to execute strategies underpinned by your prized data. 

Workarounds Add Unneeded Complexity 
Choosing to run multiple instances will mean that you need to set up third-party integrations for each of the instances. Depending on your use case, you might need a handful or even several third-party integrations. This does open the door to a best-of-breed Composable Commerce approach; however, depending on your commerce engine, the reality can be quite different. 

Take, for instance, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, which offers two different products to run B2B and  B2C operations. While necessary features for each channel might get checked off the list of requirements, using two wholly different platforms will mean that each integration (for example, site search from Algolia) will have to be done on both instances to leverage the benefit across the entirety of your online business. 

The other alternative is MACH solutions that technically "can" manage multiple price books and catalogs with a single solution. Depending on the eCommerce solution, these 'could do' scenarios often mean heavy customization needs to be done to achieve your brand's multi-store or multi-brand vision. Crucially, some of these vendors cannot deploy a microsite - which can be helpful for event-based stores, customer segment-specific stores, or account-specific stores in a B2B case. 

Stay Focused and Use the Right Tools 
Remaining vigilant when planning your eCommerce strategy to ensure you are set up for success is only half the battle. If you have a commerce use case that needs several catalogs, brands, web stores, or touch points either now or in the future, planning towards the easiest way to manage this scenario will save resource time and lower costs in the long run. Check out our TCO guide to learn more. 

Ensuring your commerce platform is equipped to handle these complexities with ease is crucial to the success of your eCommerce goals. Rather than pouring resource hours into managing multiple instances, your team can focus on developing innovative customer experiences and driving revenue growth. 

The Elastic Path Product Experience Manager (PXM) was built to achieve these business goals. Its decoupled architecture enables you to create unlimited catalogs, hierarchies, and pricelists across multiple touchpoints. 

Your merchandising team can create thousands of variations in seconds, price them separately, and deliver them to numerous microsites, all from a single, easy-to-use commerce manager portal. 

Another benefit? No more merchandising teams beholden to IT bottlenecks. Unlike other commerce solutions where it is “technically possible,” but require long and costly developer hours to deliver similar capabilities. 

Ready to learn more about EP PXM? Chat with us today to see how we can help your brand achieve and surpass your eCommerce goals. 
 

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