Multisite domain or sub directory?

Hi guys
We're expecting to have around 30-40 multi-vendor stores from our existing customer base, using marketpress, created on our multisite network when we first launch.

Each vendor will control their own site to a certain degree, and new vendors should easily be able to sign up for their own store, without any issues. We want to make it as simple for them as possible to create their store, post products and sell, and communicate with potential buyers.

We expect this to grow far beyond that in the first year based on existing demand, and we may be able to reach around 400 multi-vendor sites in the first 12-18 months. We'll be hosting on Amazon web services.

We're trying to decide which route to go regarding initial multisite set up. Separate domains for each vendor site (e.g. http://www.theirsite.oursite.com), or separate directory (www.oursite.com/theirsite)?

We will be keeping branding consistent throughout the site, and vendors won't have the option of settings up their own .com domains like with bigcartel and similar.

Any thoughts on pros and cons of domains or directories for multisite setup?

Thanks.

  • timstrifler
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    From my experience this is totally a personal preference, and it has no bearing on functionality.

    I thought through quite a few different scenarios when making this decision for myself, and subdomains are clearly the better choice in my opinion.

    1. Subdomains put the customers name first which they'll appreciate whenever their domain is written or typed. They're going to want to their customers to see their name first.

    2. Subdomains give the impression that they have their own site, opposed to just having a profile page on your site. Most people are familiar with the ways URLs are structured, and it could seem less professional to them as a directory.

    3. Subdirectories are often used in marketing campaigns for big businesses, which could give people the impression it's not a permanent site.

  • victorv
    • WPMU DEV Initiate

    Very good points Tim. And from a customer experience perspective, which is number one on our value delivery list, your suggestion makes sense. Thank you.

    What about from a technical and support perspective? Any negatives to selecting subdomains over directories? Will I get heartburn and nightmares further down the line when we hit higher store numbers?

  • timstrifler
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    No problem, glad I could help.

    From everything I've learned, there's no technical benefit from choosing one or the other. No host would limit the amount of subdomains to my knowledge.

    It might be best to let a staff member chime in here and give their professional opinion on this though. I'd hate to steer you wrong!

  • Brian Purkiss
    • Smushie Pies

    Personally, I'd recommend using a subdomain. It's pretty much personal preference, but to me, subdomains makes it more clear that it's a separate site, rather than a sub page of the main site.

    You could also use our Domain Mapping plugin and Pro Sites plugin and let people purchase an upgrade to use their own domain name. Just a suggestion.

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