Four Critical Strategies for Building Multi-Brand Experiences With Shopify Plus
Last year, Shopify announced an exciting enhancement to its Plus platform: The all-new enterprise dashboard. This new administrative interface is a quantum leap ahead for merchants that manage multiple brands in multiple markets with multiple product lines.
But a dashboard is not a solution for a flawed multi-brand strategy. Here are the five strategies we have used with many merchants to build multi-brand experiences that perform.
Strategy #1: One cart to rule them all
You might be offering multiple brands to multiple buyers in multiple markets, but it's still one store—and crucially, one cart. When you’re building a multi-brand experience, remember that you may not have the same buyers in each brand, but the venn diagram of your buyers for each brand absolutely overlaps.
Don’t introduce fiction into the buying experience by making it harder for those customers to buy across brands.
Important side note: I can attest that rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy offers a terrifically helpful bit of escapism right now.
Strategy #2: Focus on brand compliment, not brand competition
Your brands should live in harmony with one another. Take a look at the logo bar on Gap.com:
Notice how the logos for Old Navy, Banana Republic, etc, do not compete with another, but compliment each other, and the overall brand focus on Gap.com. With the uniform display (black on white), the other brands feel more like categories (which they are). This is very intentional and a terrific example of how to balance competing brands.
Lean into the different brands; don’t shy away from them.
Strategy #3: Use visual cues to make differences as clear as similarities
You need to balance where the individual sites need to be different/similar very thoughtfully. Yes, each experience needs to embody the brand voice for the customer to fully engage. However, you still need to look for opportunities to align other visual cues to a single design framework to reap benefits from your multi-brand...well, brand.
The home page, the product detail page, the collection pages, and navigation can all be similar across brands while still achieving the uniqueness you have earned by building the brand in the marketplace.
Why be so thoughtful about this balance? Because ecommerce is all about eliminating friction.
Strategy #4: Invest in the back office
While you are building a single, cohesive ecommerce experience, remember that there is no getting around the fact that individual brands have unique needs around fulfillment, merchandising workflow, promotions, tax, and pricing.
You will need to partner closely with IT stakeholders to ensure that you have carefully planned all of the data integrations, flows, caching strategies, and freshness expectations around the front end experience, as well as all of the back office realities of being a merchant.
Do not forget to engage with stakeholders from finance so that all of the accounting information flows properly, as there will be subtle (but rather crucial) differences among brands. You don’t want to be figuring this out when accounting is trying to close the books for the quarter, when deadlines are tight and tensions are high. Be proactive and carefully plan for their needs.
Lastly, plan for how you will maintain (or even enhance) the reporting in place today with the new multi-brand experience. Data flows will be changing and data warehouse stakeholders will likely need close engagement.
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