There is no one right answer to the question of whether or not to create a different website for each of your store locations. Historically, companies have approached this a variety of ways. However, if you are considering creating multiple sites, here’s a look at a few valid to consider.
Franchise Business Model
With the franchising business model, sometimes separate stores have their own websites, whereas the corporate-owned stores stay under the primary website. This approach is okay, but it can be confusing for customers. The primary site must have a directory listing of all locations—not just the non-franchised ones that corporate owns.
For customers, having some stores with information on the main website and others with their own independent website gets confusing. They don’t know where to look. For search engines like Google, it can also be difficult to know how to answer searchers’ queries correctly.
All Stores Owned by the Parent Company
When the business is a regular one that has multiple locations all owned by the parent company, then it’s a slightly easier decision.
It’s up to the company whether they wish to have separate websites for each location or to integrate them into a single website. It can make it more difficult for visitors to find what they are looking for when all locations are managed under one roof. Having multiple websites conveniently built using a website builder makes it less trouble than you’d expect, as the setup can be standardized and relatively quick.
Pros and Cons of Having One Site
With a single site, you have one website to manage. It’s simpler. When the hosting goes down, you’re dealing with one site and a single issue. When you have multiple sites, you could have several down and the calls come flooding in.
Experimentation with different designs and elements is doable with a single site, but it’s necessary to find a way to isolate the changes so either only a few people see them, or they only affect some parts of the sites and not all of it. It’s more difficult to experiment with a single website, but it can be done.
From an SEO standpoint, with one site it’s now easier than ever to rank multiple locations—one for each page in a directory—as opposed to maintaining multiple sites. Ranking and site reputation is no problem either, and building respectable inbound links pointing to one site is far less time consuming.
Pros and Cons of Having Multiple Sites
Multiple sites allow for the customization of each website to suit the location and the culture there. For instance, a store in London could sport a different design to one located in Edinburgh. Similarly, for a restaurant chain, an Edinburgh location could have a tailored menu that aims to please local patrons and tourists alike with fare that’s evocative of the history there.
Experimentation is easier to do without negative consequences when you have a small website for a different branch. It’s possible to try out new designs and features to test what people in that area prefer, without risking damaging the reputation of the brand on the main website.
With multiple sites, there’s a lot to deal with, unless you’re using standardization with design and options. Tracking down issues and resolving them becomes progressively more difficult when the number of sites increases and variation become the norm. Companies that don’t standardize almost everything on individual sites run the risk of creating an IT catastrophe for themselves.
There’s no right or wrong answer about having one site or many supporting multiple locations. It comes down to a straight choice for the owner as to what will be right for their business.