How to Build a Multi-Brand E-Commerce Website
As a digital design agency, one of the most common challenges we face are clients who need a single website for multiple brands. Typically, these types of organizations fall into one of two camps:
House of Brands: An assortment of brands that benefit from a strategic or operational alliance, but may serve customers in different ways, without an obvious connection for the consumer.
A Branded House: A collective of complementary brands that cater to unique audiences but benefit from shared equity under the same umbrella.
Challenges of multi-brand websites
Education: Your website’s audience may not even know that your brands are interrelated, so this often requires an additional layer of education before users can learn about the specific brand they are seeking.
A Unified Experience: Each of your brands will have its own unique characteristics, which may include color, typography, tone of voice, and imagery. Striking the right balance of expressing every brand, without creating a jarring or disparate user experience, is a delicate creative challenge.
Cross-Merchandising: Offering a variety of products creates an opportunity to build customer loyalty by engaging fans of one brand, and extending their exposure to a complementary brand that solves a slightly different problem for them. The challenge here is creating a scalable framework across brand and product lines that is logical and helpful for your user.
Three types of multi-brand ecommerce ecosystems within a single website
1. Brand Tabs
Gap Inc. and Williams Sonoma use an additional navigation bar at the top of each brand site that allows users to navigate between brands.
Pros: Creates a very clear separation between brands, and allows for a unique expression of each brand’s identity.
Cons: By creating the illusion of separate websites for each brand, there is almost no opportunity to naturally merchandise products between brands on the website.
2. One Store, Multiple Brands
CLIF Bar and Nike sell multiple brands and product lines within the same store, using navigation menus and product filters to allow users to search and sort.
Pros: This mimics a more traditional retail experience that many shoppers are used to at department and grocery stores, and easily allows for cross-selling between product lines.
Cons: It can be difficult to create a design system that allows each brand’s identity to come through, without conflicting with the parent or partner brands.
3. Corporate Website
Corporate website are typically not ecommerce sites, but it’s still worth mentioning because the job of a corporate website is often to showcase a portfolio of brands. Deckers Brands and E&J Gallo use their corporate site to talk about company structure, values, and showcase their brands.
Pros: This format offers a helpful overview for investors, talent recruitment, and press.
Cons: These sites aren’t directly designed for marketing to consumers.
What ecommerce site is right for your multi-brand company?
Determining the right type of site for your organization depends on your goals for your website, the relationship between your brands, and the wants and needs of your target audiences.
- If you have a portfolio of well-established brands that serve separate audiences, a tabbed experience is a smart choice for your company.
- If you’re launching new brands that serve different use cases for the same target audience, it may be beneficial to house all of your brands within the same ecommerce experience.
- If your site’s primary purpose is to communicate with your industry or recruit talent for your team, a corporate website is likely the most effective option.