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Ok, let's say that a customer already has a CMS managed web site but now wants to sell goods online using an E-commerce platform (Magento in this case).

My question is, does it make any difference between choosing to have just one site running both CMS and E-commerce (www.mycompany.com), or to have one site for the CMS (www.mycompany.com) and another (www.mycompany-shop.com) for E-commerce?

I'd like to know the pros and cons of these approaches, so that I can advise the customer for the best.

--EDIT
I forgot to say that I'd prefer to have 2 separate web sites. This way I wouldn't have to learn how to integrate them together (one in Python, the other in PHP).

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4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted
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I think the best way would be to integrate the shop in the current site (therefor under the same domain).

SEO: One domain for both would strengthen that domain (all links lead to this domain, so they are not splitted between info site domain and shop site domain).

Usability: Visitors could switch seamlessly between info pages about the company and the shop, because the shop could be one of the major navigation links.

Security: Visitors will know that they are at the right place, if they know the company already; if you'd use a different domain for the shop, some might think that it's a phishing site (not legitimately related to the company).

Costs: You'd only need one certificate, you'd only need to pay for one domain, you would not need an additional total new design.

However, if you don't want to integrate the shop in the current design, information architecture and navigation of the current site, I think the best way would be to use a subdomain (shop.example.com) for the shop, while the current site would be (www.)example.com.

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I think this is the best answer. Would also add: + Cookie handling + Cross-site metrics. Both are going to far easier if you are using hostname. –  AllInOne Sep 17 '12 at 21:12
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A subdomain could still be integrated with the current design and navigation of the site and still benefit from the points mentioned... SEO, usability, security and costs. –  w3d Sep 26 '12 at 9:52
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I'd go with one domain. Some users might find it suspect if they have to switch domains to make a purchase. You can learn a lot by looking through a site like amazon.com - they have a lot of experience in e-commerce, and they put both content (products and reviews) and their shopping cart/checkout on the same domain.

If integration is an issue - aren't you able so set the root of your ecommerce app to something like mycompany.com/store ?

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I would not advise doing it on 2 separate sites unless the content is not related. If they are related, customers will be inconvenienced navigating from 1 site to another. We had a client that did 2 separate sites and now combining to 1 because customers complain.

Of course it depends on your specific situation. But generally, doing both on the same domain is best. You can use subdomain for ecommerce, and as far as platform goes..try to stick to the language the primary developers are happy with coding in.. that way customizations and maintenance is easy to come by.

Will content on CMS need to be on product pages? If so, you need to have a way of bridging information between 2 systems easily.

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Having 2 different domains has no real consequence for SEO, Google will know soon enough that both site belong to the same company and will treat the links between the two sites in a different manner.

Aside from the technical issues that may arise if you have the CMS and ecommerce on the same domain, you have to think about a way to integrate the shop into the current site. The CMS may have only 10 or 20 pages with corporate text, in this case it will make no difference to have the shop on a separate domain.

If the CMS have many pages and publish new content on a regular basis, you will probably have many opportunities to integrate the products of the shop in the CMS and it will be easier and natural to have the shop on the same domain.

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