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Yuliia Honcharova
Head of Marketing at Gepard
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B2B eCommerce eCommerce eCommerce Strategy

Multi Store vs. Multi Tenant eCommerce Platforms: Key Differences

6 min read
Published: July 17, 2024

The global B2B eCommerce market, projected to reach a staggering $33,317.37 billion by 2030 at a CAGR of 20.2%, is undergoing a huge transformation. Customer expectations are changing, mirroring those of the B2C world and demanding intuitive online experiences. To meet these heightened needs and capitalize on the projected market growth, businesses are turning to innovative solutions like multi-tenant eCommerce platforms.

The widespread adoption of multi-tenant platforms is evident in the US, where B2B eCommerce sales are projected to surpass $2.3 trillion by 2025. Similarly, China’s online B2B market, built on multi-tenant architectures, has already exceeded ¥15.5 trillion ($2.15 billion) in 2022 and is expected to reach ¥19.5 trillion ($2.7 billion) soon. Even Europe forecasts steady growth in B2B eCommerce, with the GMV estimated to reach over $1.8 trillion by 2025, fueled by multi-tenant SaaS platforms.

But what sets these platforms apart from traditional multi-store solutions, and why are they rapidly gaining traction in the B2B sector?

Comparison Between Multi-Tenant and Multi-Store eCommerce Platforms

Multi Store vs. Multi Tenant Ecommerce Platforms

Success in B2B eCommerce relies on making the right platform choice. Two prominent options stand out: multi-tenant and multi-store architectures. Each offers distinct advantages and caters to different business needs.

What is a Multi-Tenant eCommerce Platform?

Imagine a bustling digital mall where multiple businesses operate under one roof. This is the essence of a multi-tenant eCommerce platform. It’s a single software instance that serves multiple businesses (or “tenants”), each with its own branded storefront and tailored customer experience.

However, these businesses share a common infrastructure, including backend resources, databases, and the main functionalities.

Key Characteristics and Advantages of Multi-Tenant Platforms

  • Shared Infrastructure: Reduces costs and simplifies maintenance, as updates and upgrades are managed centrally. This is one of the key multi-tenancy benefits.
  • Scalability: These platforms easily adapt to business growth, handling increased traffic and transactions seamlessly. This is especially beneficial for eCommerce platforms for large businesses that anticipate high volumes of sales.
  • Customization: Tenants can tailor their storefront’s look and feel, product catalogs, and customer journeys to align with their brand identity.
  • Faster Time to Market: Launching a new online store is quicker since the basic infrastructure is already in place.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Shared resources translate to lower costs compared to maintaining separate infrastructures for each store.

What is a Multi-Store eCommerce Platform?

Think of a row of independent shops, each with its own unique architecture and interior design. This is the analogy for a multi-store eCommerce platform. It involves deploying a separate software instance for each online store, giving each store complete control over its infrastructure, customization, and data.

Key Characteristics of Multi-Store Platforms

  • Complete Independence: Each store operates on its own isolated infrastructure, offering maximum control and flexibility.
  • Extensive Customization: Businesses have unlimited freedom to customize every aspect of their store, from design to functionality.
  • Data Isolation: Each store’s data is completely separate, ensuring privacy and security.

Key Differences Between Multi-Tenant vs. Multi-Store Platforms

Feature Multi-Tenant Platform Multi-Store Platform
Infrastructure Shared core, separate storefronts Separate infrastructure for each store
Customization High, within defined parameters Very high, unlimited
Scalability Easier to scale up or down More complex scaling process
Updates & Maintenance Centralized, efficient Individual updates for each store, can be time-consuming
Cost Generally more cost-effective Can be more expensive, especially with many stores
Data Security Relies on the platform’s security measures Full control over data security

Why Businesses Prefer Multi-Tenant eCommerce Platforms?

Multi-tenant eCommerce platforms are gaining traction for several key reasons:

  • Cost-Efficiency: Shared resources translate to lower development, maintenance, and hosting costs, making a significant advantage for businesses looking to sell on multiple platforms.
  • Scalability: These platforms easily adapt to business growth, handling increased traffic and transactions seamlessly.
  • Faster Launch: Existing infrastructure means quicker setup and time-to-market.
  • Streamlined Updates: Centralized management ensures all stores are always up-to-date with the latest features and security patches. This eliminates the need for individual updates required by what is multi-store, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming.
  • Enhanced Security: Benefit from robust platform-level security measures that protect sensitive data. This is crucial, especially when dealing with eCommerce platform multiple vendors, and their respective data.
  • Channel Optimization: B2B buyers use various channels for purchasing, with supplier websites being the most popular. Multi-tenant platforms cater to this multichannel eCommerce strategy by ensuring seamless experiences across different touchpoints, allowing businesses to reach customers wherever they shop.

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Multi-tenant eCommerce platforms are particularly well-suited for:

  • Businesses with Multiple Brands or Markets: Easily manage multiple brands or tailor experiences for different regions with separate storefronts under one platform.
  • Growing Businesses: Startups and rapidly expanding businesses benefit from the scalability and cost-efficiency of multi-tenant platforms.
  • Businesses Seeking Simplicity: These platforms are easier to manage compared to the complexities of what is multi-tenant. In contrast, businesses with a strong focus on individual store control and customization might find the best multi-store eCommerce platform like Magento or Shopify Plus more suitable for their needs.
  • Cost-Conscious Businesses: Companies looking to reduce IT expenses and streamline operations find value in the shared infrastructure model. This is especially attractive when considering the costs associated with maintaining a multi-tenant data center.

If you’re looking for an open-source option, there are some multi-tenant eCommerce platform open source solutions available. However, it’s important to note that while Shopify is a powerful eCommerce platform, it does not currently offer a native multi-tenant architecture. Some third-party apps and solutions may provide workarounds or partial Shopify multi-tenant functionalities.

When the right fit is found, multi-tenant platforms can be a powerful tool for driving eCommerce success in the B2B arena, especially when integrated with multichannel eCommerce software.

Key Features of an Effective Multi-Tenant B2B Platform

To truly excel in B2B eCommerce, a multi-tenant platform must offer a wide set of features that capitalize on the potential advantages of multitenancy while catering to the unique needs of businesses and their customers.

#1. Comprehensive Buyer’s Journey

Multi-tenant platforms guide B2B buyers through their entire journey, from product discovery to purchase. Personalized content, tailored recommendations, and self-service tools empower buyers, while role management streamlines approvals.

#2. User Roles Management

In B2B transactions, multiple stakeholders are often involved. Multi-tenant platforms excel at managing user roles, granting each person the proper level of access and permissions. This not only enhances security but also helps collaboration, ensuring smooth decision-making and a personalized experience for everyone involved.

#3. Search and Navigation

Time is money in B2B. Intuitive search functionality and clear navigation are a must. Multi-tenant platforms prioritize these features, allowing buyers to find the products or information they need in a minute.

#4. Integration with External Systems

A multi-tenant platform doesn’t exist in isolation. It directly integrates with your existing business systems, such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), WMS (Warehouse Management System), and RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) systems. Multichannel integration allows you to connect your eCommerce platform with various sales channels.

#5. Product Catalog Delivery and Updates

Detailed product descriptions, specifications, and rich media are crucial for informed B2B purchasing decisions. Multi-tenant platforms facilitate the efficient management and delivery of this content, ensuring it’s always up-to-date and consistent across all storefronts.

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#6. Multilingual Support

In a global marketplace, multilingual support is a key. Multi-tenant platforms enable you to cater to diverse markets by providing content in multiple languages and adapting to cultural differences. This offers clear communication, builds trust, and expands your reach.

#7. Pricing Optimization and Customization

B2B pricing is rarely one-size-fits-all. Multi-tenant platforms offer dynamic pricing capabilities, allowing you to tailor prices based on customer segments, order volume, or other factors. Bundle pricing and personalized quotations further enhance your ability to meet individual customer needs.

#8. Orders and Quotations

Efficient order management is critical in B2B. Multi-tenant platforms provide features like bulk ordering, reordering, order tracking, and personalized quotation management. This simplifies the purchasing process for your customers and optimizes your operations.

#9. Mobile Experience Optimization

With the rise of mobile commerce, a seamless mobile experience is paramount. Multi-tenant platforms prioritize mobile optimization, offering features like autocomplete and clear CTA buttons. This helps your B2B customers browse, research, and make purchases on their mobile devices with ease.

Multi-Tenant eCommerce: The Future of B2B Sales

In a world where B2B buyers demand a seamless and personalized experience, multi-tenant eCommerce platforms are the solution. The growing importance of customer experience in B2B, with 86% of buyers willing to pay more for a great experience, further underscores the value of these platforms.
By consolidating infrastructure and streamlining updates, multi-tenant platforms empower B2B businesses to:

  1. Reduce costs
  2. Scale effortlessly
  3. Launch faster
  4. Enhance security
  5. Deliver personalized experiences
  6. Streamline operations
  7. Optimize the mobile experience

Compared to traditional models, multi-tenant platforms are a more agile, cost-effective, and future-proof solution for B2B eCommerce. They are ideal for businesses with multiple brands, growing companies, and those seeking a simpler, more efficient way to manage their online presence.

Ready to Transform Your B2B eCommerce?

Discover how Gepard’s PIM multi-tenant platform can empower your business to thrive in the digital age. Streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive growth with a tailored solution that meets your unique needs. Experience the benefits of reduced costs, increased scalability, and a simplified, yet powerful, eCommerce platform.

Explore Gepard’s customized solutions today and unlock your full eCommerce potential. Contact us to learn more.

Yuliia Honcharova
Written by Yuliia Honcharova
Head of Marketing at Gepard
18+ years in Digital Marketing, SEO, SEM. Driving the strategy, planning, and execution of the company's marketing initiatives to achieve its international business objectives. Created and implemented Digital marketing and SEO strategies for businesses in varied domains including eCommerce.

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