Designing a store: multi-branding, personalization, microformats, integration with 1C and trading floors

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The last part of the article about the design of large online stores, at least their external part. In this part you will learn about the relationship with Off-Line trading, multi-currency, multi-language, multi-branding, articles, news, surveys and research, behavioral system (personalization), affiliate programs, adaptive layout and applications, microformats, Social CRM, analytical systems, integration with 1C, integration with external databases, integration with trading floors, parsers, data export and much more. Then there will be a series of articles on the design of the interior of stores, which includes accounting, logistics, CRM, document management and much more.

Past articles in the series can be found here:

“Store design. Research "
Design shop. Modules online store "
" Designing a store. Product card and not only »
« Designing a store. Substitutes, complements, comparison and other tools to increase conversion ”
“ Designing a store. My account, basket, delivery-payment, mailing and more »

Connection with Off-Line Trading

Often an online store acts as an On-Line storefront for a network of Off-Line stores. In this case, it is advantageous to combine these two parts and get the synergy effect. To do this, you can use a number of functions.

To begin with, you should definitely make a choice of the city of the buyer so that the entire store can adjust to it. We can build telephones for communication, addresses of nearby stores, accept user requests using local managers and many other equally useful features.

In the product’s card and in contacts, we can show a map (based on a popular service like Yandex.Maps or Google Maps) with the nearest stores, so that the buyer has the opportunity to come and see the product with his own eyes. Many still have a great distrust of online purchases, so this move will increase sales: on the Internet, a person chose, and in the off-line store made a final decision and paid.

When dealing with questions, a person can be referred to local managers. However, there are also difficulties, taking this step you need to be sure that local managers work well and will always respond to the buyer. In regions, usually the service does not differ in quality. However, it is not difficult to make mechanisms for monitoring this, introduce standards, etc.

In the product card, in the availability column, you can make the function of viewing availability in a particular store. To do this, you need to synchronize all balances in all warehouses and the store in one place. You will also need the function of ordering goods in a particular store convenient for the buyer.

Fig. 1. Communication with Off-Line trade.



In some countries, including Russia and Ukraine, it is prohibited by law to indicate prices in foreign currency. On the other hand, this may be necessary for buyers, especially if the online store sells its products in several countries. In this case, either indicate prices in international currency (for example, US dollars), or for each country make a copy of the site with a separate domain or even a brand, but still work with one base, where prices will be linked to the main currency. In copies of stores, you can convert prices at a predetermined rate. Another option is to specify two currencies at once: local and dollars.

Often the current course is shown in the header of the site. It can also be shown in a tooltip when hovering over the price in dollars.

Fig. 2. Multicurrency.



In some countries, historically speak 2 or more languages. In a good way, an online store should try to meet its customers and literally speak their language with them. Moreover, for some nationalist-minded citizens this issue may be crucial. Of course, everyone should not be pleased, but if in the country at least 20% of the population speak some language, it is worth thinking about creating a language version. And in international projects, this function is indispensable.

In addition to convenience for users, there is also a benefit for SEO. A person is likely to search for information in his native language and find those sites that have the corresponding language versions. In the interface, switching languages ​​is usually located in the header or basement, in the form of a drop-down list.

The language problem is very clearly expressed, for example, in Ukraine. Millions of people speak Russian and Ukrainian. In the west, people mostly make online stores exclusively in the Ukrainian language, losing two tens of millions of Russian speakers, and in the east and in the center, mostly in Russian, losing no less than the audience. If you look at the statistics of key queries, then in both languages ​​you can find a very large number of commercial queries. Thus, the loss of a large online store due to the lack of a language version in this country can even reach tens of millions of dollars a year, if not more.

However, in addition to the obvious pluses, there are obvious disadvantages. First of all, these are significant additional costs for creating content, as well as the low cost of technical implementation and further promotion of each of the language versions.

This function is not needed for small or medium-sized online stores, but large can be useful, you need to calculate the economic effect for each case separately. However, there are international online stores that are represented in dozens of different countries. They can be implemented with one administrative part (with differentiation of access rights), but with different languages ​​and domains. Here, of course, one cannot do without this important function.

Fig. 3. Multilingualism.



For marketing purposes, sometimes one company makes several brands at once with different sites that can operate in different price niches, but sell the same product. In appearance, the sites are different, the domains are different, the prices are different, and the products are the same. For this, the multi-branding function was invented, when several online stores are launched on the same platform at once. Such an artificial competition. I know some topics in which the top 5-6 stores from the top 10 belong to the same company.

This function is needed by few and it is quite expensive, but it is quite possible to implement. But do not forget that the more brands, the greater the cost of promotion.


Articles and reviews are an important tool for promotion and sales. In the interface, a link to this section is located in the auxiliary menu, which is usually slightly less highlighted than the catalog menu or in the basement of the site. Large stores often do not put it on the menu at all, the user sees the article already in the product’s card itself. This is done in order to focus the user’s attention on the products themselves and not to distract other information.

Articles can be very useful for promotion in search engines. Firstly, search engines are very fond of unique texts, secondly, people will link to them on other sites, and thirdly, users themselves often look for reviews of individual products, comparison of analogues from different manufacturers, technical specifications or individual functions that they necessary in a certain type of goods etc. This tool can provide very decent search traffic to the site.

The section itself contains a list of articles and publication dates. You can also make a rubricator for the convenience of the user. But this page will be visited only if somewhere in the menu there is a link to it, in other cases, except for search robots, no one will see it.

The page of the article should have a title, text, a block with the goods that are described in the article (directly in the text of the article and under it, the type of goods is the same as in the catalog), tags, a block with sharing the article on social networks, you can show in the left column product catalogs, the topic of which is discussed in the article, in the right column are the thematic top sales. Separately, you can make a link to the author on Google+. In general, the store’s task is to pick up the user from the search engine and motivate him to buy the product he was looking for, ideally right from the article’s page.

On the product page, articles and reviews should be displayed in a separate tab.

By the way, you can give the opportunity to write articles and reviews to users themselves. Naturally, with moderation and certain rules. As practice shows, about 1% of the total number of users are theoretically ready to write articles, so why not give them such an opportunity !?


This feature is similar to articles, but has a slightly different purpose. News is used to inform users about new events, in particular about a variety of promotions, discounts, sales.

The section itself is placed in the auxiliary menu also only in small and medium-sized online stores. Since here we are reporting important information for sales, it will be logical to place a small block on the main page with the three latest news. You can make this block only with news headlines, even without a description and a link to the "All News" section. Also, sometimes this block is combined into a single block “News and Articles”, due to the technical similarity of the function.

Links to individual news will certainly be in the mailings of the online store.

Surveys and Research

Previously, this was a mandatory function in any online store, now it is used only for one-time targeted research. For example, if marketers need to know the preferences of users in a particular product category, they can run an unobtrusive survey in it or even ask them to fill out an entire questionnaire. In the interface, it will be a small block in a free place. You can make a pop-up window, but users have a negative attitude to this, such a technique can reduce sales.

The function itself is the most ordinary: a question or several questions, a choice of one of the proposed options or the ability to enter your answer and the “Vote” or “Reply” button. All polls are limited in time, and may also be limited in terms of impressions per user. All answers are stored and systematized in the internal part of the store for subsequent analysis, you can also integrate the function with the analytical module.

Fig. 4. Surveys and studies.


Behavioral system (personalization)

In the past 5 years, many large Internet companies have begun to develop behavioral technologies (personalization), when the content of the site depends on the actions of the user, which are collected and accumulated over the years. For an online store, this system can significantly increase sales, average check, number of pages viewed and other important KPIs. For example, if a regular customer makes purchases only in the electronics category and periodically looks at it, while not paying attention to other product groups, then perhaps he should show ads, recommended products and articles, especially from the electronics category. In other words, the site can be completely customized and personalized for a specific person.

But how to determine what exactly a person needs and at the same time not to make a mistake? Most stores cannot do complex behavioral technology, such as those developed by Google or Yandex, unless there are only a few very large online stores with hundreds of millions and billions of dollars worth of sales that are ready to invest millions of dollars in such a system. For everyone else, I would suggest making the behavioral system in a simpler version, based on weighted indicators or using third-party personalization services.

For such a system, you need to select all the actions of users who can tell us about their preferences. They should be typed at least 3 dozen different types and character. After assigning each of these actions a coefficient, a certain figure, the value of which will depend on the importance of the action. For example, the purchase of any product in the field of electronics will cost 1 point, and a comment on a product in the field of sports - 0.2 points. After showing users the most relevant products, when a certain threshold of activity accumulates for a certain person, for example 5 points, so that we are sure that we were not mistaken. In my example, for such a user, out of 12 offered products, 10 will be shown from the electronics category and 2 from the sports category. The example itself is rather crude, but I think the meaning is clear.

Also for personalization can use third-party special services. For example, for Russian-language stores, these can be: , , and several others. In fact, this is a database with statistics and analytics of customer behavior that have long been collected from different stores and to which you can connect any new store. By connecting the store to such databases, you can increase the conversion at times.

Fig. 4. Personalization.


affiliate program

With products and a streamlined business model, it's time to connect partners to sales. There are hundreds of thousands of sites and millions of people who are willing to sell someone’s product for a percentage. Almost all major online stores have affiliate programs.

The types of affiliate programs can be different, I will consider the three most interesting and they are very popular. The first type is for sites or individuals who are willing to sell goods from an online store for a percentage. For this, the store makes a special section with the registration of partners, after the partners can get a unique link and advertising materials, which they then post somewhere, all this needs to be automated as much as possible. Affiliate receives a percentage of all customers who came through affiliate links. The second type of program is to allow partners to trade their goods through the website of the online store, the store will receive a percentage of sales. That immediately raises questions about the quality of goods and service, because the brand is one for many sellers. The third type is the ability to take the functionality and products of an online store, sell them under your brand,

All types of affiliate programs are very beneficial for online shopping. Especially for large, for which there is a significant credit of trust.

Adaptive layout and applications (iOS, Android, Windows Phone)

In an age of a huge variety of platforms that customers use, we inevitably come to the adaptability of sites as an absolute necessity. Any online store should correctly and conveniently display on a laptop, and on a tablet and on a mobile phone. To achieve this effect, you can make an adaptive website design that will adapt to the user platform or a separate mobile version, which will have a different interface. The adaptive design option, I think, is more correct, for this you need to properly design and layout the site.

Today, more and more users make purchases from mobile devices. In different subjects, the percentage will differ, but in some online stores it can reach 15-20%, and this is already a lot. For this phenomenon, they even came up with a special term - mobile commerce. For sales, this is already a must.

In addition to adaptive layout, you can still make applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Just copying the standard features of the online store will not be enough, applications should be of additional benefit to customers. For example, you can scan bar codes in Off-Line stores so that the buyer can immediately receive detailed product information from a mobile phone: characteristics, reviews, cost comparisons, etc.

Fig. 5. Store application.



In the past few years, many sites have started using microformats. This is due to the increasing structuring of the Internet and search results in popular search engines. Today in the results we see not just links, but different data and formats. There are even specialized search engines, for example, Google Product Search . For proper indexing by search engines, you need to use generally accepted microformats. In particular, for online stores there are markup rules for goods, in addition, many general microformats are also applicable. For more information about what they are and how to apply them, see the link:

The entire layout of the online store must be done taking into account these microformats. So the site will be much better indexed and it will receive more traffic.

Fig. 6. Microformats.


SEO module

For proper indexing and promotion in search engines, any online store needs to work out SEO. To do this, you need to make a special module with settings and a few simple tricks.

For Google and Yandex, unique content is important, in particular texts. Therefore, on each page you need to provide a text field, the so-called seo-block, in which it will be possible to add unique seo-texts. This block is designed for a search engine, so it is usually made at the bottom of the page, and the text is muted in gray. It is important not to hide the text, for this you can get a ban.

You can make special categories in the catalog, for example, a separate catalog for gifts by March 8 with the corresponding text. Such pages will be easy to promote, and users who get to these pages from search engines will receive the information they were looking for.

In the administrative part, you need to make the appropriate module in which you can edit the Title, Description, Keywords for each page.


For SEO purposes, and for users, you need to create beautiful URLs. They should have an understandable structure (for example,, keywords (for example, they should be unique for the whole site. For each page you need to make it possible to manually set the address.

Social CRM and getting customer information from external sources

It is beneficial for any store to know the maximum about its customers and engage them in the life of the brand. Modern technology allows you to receive information even about new users who are new to the site. To do this, there are special databases that collect information about users from different sites. The most interesting databases for the store will be those that collect, organize and store information about users. All this is part of CRM, you can even say the foundation of Social CRM.

Such CRMs can store full names, contact details, purchase histories, visit histories, etc. Flexible segmentation and a strong analytical system are also important. Such databases collect information from partners who have agreed to exchange it. When you visit a site that participates in such a program, a user creates a special file on the computer that identifies him or, as an alternative, the user is identified by email. The site systematizes its activity and sends data to a single database. After that, when the user gets to another site that is part of the network and can be identified, the site will already know a lot about it and will be able to sell it more efficiently. You can also try to negotiate with major players in the social networking market,

The very concept of Social CRM provides for more than just collecting and using information. It also implies the involvement of customers in the life of the brand: the organization of communities around online stores, joint actions, sometimes even participation in creating products! There is no single advice, for each store such tools need to be thought out separately.


In large online stores, they often make tips or a whole section with help. This is necessary, first of all, for inexperienced users, although with such an abundance of functions, the section may be needed by experienced users who are new to the site.

The section itself consists mainly of content that needs to be grouped by topic and make a table of contents from anchor links. Each group should have a list of standard questions, links to a detailed solution to a particular problem. On the decision page at the end, you need to make either comments from users or a feedback form, in case the user does not find the answer to his question. The list of questions should be constantly updated and expanded, depending on user feedback.

In the interface, links to the section can be in different parts of the site. This can be in the form of a pictogram with a question mark or a text link, right next to a specific function. Sometimes a link to the help section is placed in the header of the site, without reference to a specific function.

In addition to the help section on the site, you also need to help users with goods. Often they have questions about individual products. To do this, a question-answer is made on the product page.

Analytical system

In any store, analytics plays a very important role. Here and attendance analytics and behavior analytics and sales analytics. Developers always have a choice: write their own system or connect external analytical systems. Of course, writing your own will be very expensive and time consuming. And on the other hand, there are simply no ready-made analytical systems that would solve all the tasks of an online store. For these purposes, I recommend connecting external systems such as Google Analytics and Yandex.Metrica, setting them up for e-commerce (for example, Ecommerce Tracking from Google or Parameters of online stores from Yandex) and adding the missing things, in particular, advanced sales analytics, in the store itself . By the way, Google Analytics and Yandex.Metrics have an API, which greatly simplifies the life of developers and allows you to develop solutions based on information from these services. Based on these services, you can automatically record profit from each purchase and upload data to an advertising system, which in turn can automatically adjust, for example, displaying contextual advertising.

For huge giants, you can connect Google Analytics Premium, BigQuery and a number of other data collection, processing and analytics services.

Fig. 7. Analytics.


Integration with 1C and other accounting systems

What no online store can do without today. All goods must be stored somewhere, in some accounting system and the online store must have two-way communication with it. We need to upload the goods themselves, prices, availability and other parameters to the site, and vice versa, upon purchase, the accounting system should receive information about the amount of purchased goods, customer data, etc.

Consider the integration with the most common accounting system for the post-Soviet space - 1C. First you need to understand which version you have to work with: if it is 8.x, then we should not have problems, it has an integration module with online stores, if it is 7.7 or lower, then you will need to add integration, but this too quite possible.

There are two integration options. Or we put 1C in database mode and the site accesses it every time. Either we do manual or automatic uploading of information to the site, say, once a day. Unloading usually occurs using an XML file, which is a layer between 1C and the site, there is a special standard for this. It is important not to skip this layer, some want to work directly with the SQL database of the store, but this can lead to problems in the future.

I recommend using the second option with unloading the database through XML, while the site should calculate the current balances so as not to wait until the data leaves in 1C, and then return back to the site.

Next, you need to understand what kind of data will be downloaded. It can be: name, unique product number (according to it we will determine where what product is during updates), price, availability, product parameters, pictures, etc. Each will have a different unloading, it needs to be designed, and the information itself in 1C is different for everyone, so there can be no template approach.

For integration, we need to configure the site itself so that it "picks up" data and configure 1C on the customer side. Various experts do this.

Integration with 1C today is supported by absolutely all popular platforms for creating online stores and this is not some kind of difficult task.

At the same time, not everyone uses 1C, there are analogues. They can also be integrated with online stores without much difficulty.

Fig. 8. Integration 1C.


Integration with external databases

Some online stores require integration with external databases. A striking example is online auto parts stores that need integration with an external TecDoc database, which stores similar information about tens of millions of auto parts. In this case, we will have the site itself, an accounting system and at least one third-party database, all this needs to be linked in a single format and shown to users.

Each integration case will be unique, but the principle as a whole is one. There are three main options: 1. Use a third-party database directly. 2. Convert a third-party database to the site format. 3. To make one-way or two-way integration, preferably through a special protocol (API), if any.

To use the database directly, it must have the correct format that the site can work with, otherwise the option does not suit us.

The second way is to convert a third-party database into SQL format once (or in a different format that the online store works with), upload it to the server, connect to the store and forget about it. However, if the third-party database is updated periodically, each time you have to do this operation again.

The third method is the most difficult, but also the most correct: connect the database through a certain layer and have a constant connection with it, even if it is updated. By this principle, 1C is connected.

Market integration

One of the main sales channels for online stores, especially beginners, is the trading floors. There are already a great many of them on the Internet, in fact, they are analogues of modern markets, where there are many sellers with the same goods, but with different price and quality. In the store you need to make a tool for automatic unloading of goods and prices in such sites in the format they need. Such platforms can be: Yandex.Market, (, Hotline,, etc. Almost all sites take money for referrals to the store’s website, roughly the same principle as contextual advertising.

Each site has its own requirements for the upload format, they can be found on the official website. Usually this is an upload in XML format, like the layer used for 1C. In the admin panel, you need to design a tool that will allow you to upload certain products, ideally, these should be products with a large margin, which can be easily sold, so this tool should use data from the analytics module.

Fig. 9. Integration with trading floors.


Parsers (grabbers)

Content creation is always a big problem, especially if there are a lot of products. Some online stores resort to copying content from other sites. For this, a special script (parser) is usually made, which allows you to do this operation automatically.

This method has several pitfalls at once: firstly, it is a violation of other people's copyrights, and it’s just not very ethical, and secondly, search engines really do not like copied content, so for SEO this will be a negative factor, and thirdly, this the function will constantly break down, because content providers are constantly struggling with such sites and they just need to change the field name so that the parser stops working, and large projects have serious protection against parsing.

Reception can be used at the start of the online store, but after that, gradually replace the copied content with your own unique one.

Error Pages

Do not ignore error pages. They, one way or another, are shown to users on almost any site.

The most important error page is 404, which is displayed when the page is not found. This can happen either when you move the page, in this case you need to automatically substitute 301 redirects on a new page, or if there is an error in the URL. The page itself is important to make in the design of the site and you can also sell from it, for example, put a block with previously viewed or popular products, as well as search, but do not forget to indicate that this is still an error page so that the user is not confused.

On the site you need to do an automatic check for the presence of all pages to which there are links. To do this, you can make a small program and check it once or continuously.

Other errors also need to be made in the design of the site, although they are rare, with a properly configured server and not very important.

In addition, you need to track site logs and analyze the causes of errors.

Fig. 10. Pages of errors.


Export data in xml, csv and other formats

An important feature for integration with external programs. It will be useful for automation of contextual advertising, automatic purchase of links, you can take into account the average check, margin, conversion and other data to prioritize. Here you need to proceed from the tasks.

In this part, I finish describing the external modules of large E-commerce projects. This is only a small part of this business. Next, wait for a description of the internal modules, which are even larger than in the external part and which no one sees, except for the owners of online stores themselves.

PS Want to learn how to do what is described in the article? I invite you to the courses that I teach: Designing serious sites , Marketing for an online store and Everything about creating an online store.

PPS To receive our new articles before others or simply not to miss new publications - subscribe to the SECL Group fan pages: Facebook , VK , and Twitter .

Original article:

Nikita Semenov
President SECL Group

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