Franchise operations have been around for a long time, and each day it seems like they are increasingly prevalent, with everything from fast food restaurants to fitness centers opening franchise locations on practically every corner. One of the main reasons that franchises are so popular is that they provide consistency with their product, environment, services, and the expectations that they set.
The same consistency is just as necessary for success in the world of franchise eCommerce, and many such operations trying to establish an online presence run into difficulties because they cannot create this kind of unity on their websites. Here, we lay out some of the specifics of these issues and discuss how they can be successfully resolved by an eCommerce agency.
In EYEMAGINE’s USSD case study, the United Studios of Self Defense had a problem maintaining this consistency with their online presence. Why? Since the company does not operate like many more traditional/standardized franchise operations and they didn’t have a multisite platform, each of their locations had tried to create its website individually, using its own platform and hiring its own designers and developers.
This caused two main issues, the first of which being that each site had a different design, color scheme, content, strategy, brand voice and overall approach.Thinking from the customer’s perspective, this is quite a problem: imagine you are traveling and want to visit the local branch of your favorite workout studio, but when you visit their website you find that it looks completely unfamiliar and you can’t find your “usual” class description pages. Would you still be confident visiting that studio? Probably not.
The second big issue that this caused is that many of the studio sites were unable to integrate with social media or with the corporate website. These communication problems are big concerns for any franchise operation: without full social media integration, a company cannot build their brand voice and connect with their customers, and without integration with the corporate site it is impossible to stay up-to-date with key company updates and information.
To solve these problems, EYEMAGINE created a multisite eCommerce platform for USSD using ExpressionEngine CMS. While there are various CMS platforms that would have worked effectively, ExpressionEngine was a good choice because it was flexible, easy-to-use, responsive and required little development.
Then, the site was rebuilt using a template-based system, meaning that the basics - like the design, individual sections or content placeholders, forms, structure, etc. - were all set up, and a USSD studio essentially just had to fill in the blanks. This change effectively addressed all of the company’s main problems with communication and consistency. How? Firstly, the multisite platform and template-based system meant that the individual studios no longer had to worry about independently developing or designing their sites. This not only saved time, confusion and resources for each individual studio, but also allowed for more consistent branding and image for USSD as a company.
Secondly, with the new template-based integrated content, each studio now had the option to “push” important content-- like social media updates, blog posts, and important offers-- directly from the corporate site to either complement or replace their own studio-specific information. This allowed for a corporate presence, relevant content and brand consistency across all USSD websites. Overall, then, these structural changes in USSD’s websites helped to create a consistent and trustworthy online presence for the company as a whole, one that will continue to serve them as they build their brand and grow as they add studios in the years to come.