Magento – Multi Store Set Up Options

There are numerous ways to setup multiple Magento stores that all share the same codebase and backend, but what method you use depends on your needs.
This article is written with cPanel in mind, though the methodologies listed below apply no matter what control panel you’re using. You will need Magento 1.4.x or greater installed too.

Jump To Section
  1. URL Structure
  2. Shared Hosting Caveat
  3. Adding Another Store In Magento
  4. Parked Domain Method
  5. Addon Domain Method
  6. Subdomain Method
  7. Subdirectory Method
  8. Managing Multiple Stores
  9. Secure Checkout For Each Domain

URL Structure

The actual URL structure of your stores is a matter of personal preference. You can, for example, have two entirely different stores running on the same domain that share the same instance of Magento:

  • mall.com/shoes
  • mall.com/shirts

Another example would be a mall type setup, where your primary domain is the portal to access various stores:

  • mall.com
  • shoes.mall.com
  • shirts.mall.com

Regardless of the URL structure, the method for setting this up will pretty much be the same, and the result is what we’re really after, which is to have one codebase for all of your stores, and one backend to manage all of these stores from.

Shared Hosting Option

If you want each store to have it’s own SSL certificate and don’t want to share a single checkout, e.g. you don’t want visitors leaving domainA.com to checkout on domainB.com, then you will not be able to do this in a shared hosting environment.

The reason why you cannot do this is simple. In order for a website to have an SSL certificate, it requires a dedicated IP address.

There’s no way to allow an addon or parked domain in cPanel to have its own IP address. Instead, it shares the IP address of the primary domain.

You probably think you could sign up for two shared hosting accounts, so each one has its own dedicated IP address, but that won’t work either.

Since it’s shared hosting, there are security measures in place to prevent one user from reading the files of another user.

So for shared hosting clients, you’re limited to the following scenarios:

  1. All of your stores do not have a secure checkout, which is fine if you’re using PayPal, Google Checkout, or a similar third-party service that handles the processing of card data on their website. For example, visitors to any of your stores are redirected to a third-party website for card processing.
  2. All of your stores are setup as subdomains, and you’ve purchased a wildcard SSL certificate, which is roughly $1000/year and is for legally registered businesses.

If you do need an SSL certificate for all of your domains, you will need to be in a dedicated hosting environment, such as our Magento VPS Hosting platform. In this type of environment, all domains will be able to access the same set of files.

Adding Another Store In Magento

The first thing we need to do is setup our second store in Magento.

We’re going to do a hypothetical here for the naming conventions and assume we own shirts.com. Adjust the values accordingly for your own store.

  1. Login to the Magento admin.
  2. Go to the Catalog tab, and select Manage Categories.
  3. Click on the Add Root Category button on the left.
  4. On the right, for the Name, we’ll enter Shoes.com. Set the dropdown to Yes for both Is Active and Is Anchor.
  5. Click the Save Category button.
  6. Go to the System tab and select Manage Stores.
  7. Click on the Create Website button.
  8. For the Name, we’ll enter Shoes.com, and for the Code, we’ll enter shoes. We’ll use this value later, so don’t forget this!
  9. Click the Save Website button.
  10. Click on the Create Store button.
  11. For the Website, select Shoes.com from the dropdown. For the Name, we’ll enter Main Store. For the Root Category, select the Shoes.com from the dropdown.
  12. Click on the Save Store button.
  13. Click on the Create Store View button.
  14. For the Store, select Main Store from the drop-down, making sure it’s for the Shoes.com website. For the Name, we’ll enter English. For the Code, we’ll enter shoes_en. For the Status, select Enabled from the dropdown.
  15. Click the Save Store View button.
  16. Go to the System tab and select Configuration.
  17. For the Current Configuration Scope (located on the top left), change the dropdown menu from Default Config to Shoes.com.
  18. Select Web from the sidebar on the left under the General heading.
  19. For both the Unsecure and Secure sections, uncheck the Use default box next to the Base URL item, and enter the URL for your store, e.g. http://www.shoes.com/. Don’t forget the trailing slash!
  20. Click the Save Config button.

Now that we have our second store setup, you’ll need to choose one of the following methods for actually setting up the store on the server-side so visitors can access it.

If the URL structure you’ve chosen will have different domains for each store, the parked domain method is the fastest and easiest method.

Parked Domain Method

For this method, we’ll pretend we own shirts.com and shoes.com. The shirts.com domain is our primary domain, and Magento is already installed on it. Here’s how we would set this up for the shoes.com domain:

  1. Login to cPanel for your domain and click on the Parked Domains icon.
  2. In the input field, enter the domain name that you’ll be setting up as a second store, e.g. shoes.com.
  3. Click on the Add Domain button.
  4. Open up the index.php file for Magento and look for this line (it’s the last line of the file):
    Mage::run($mageRunCode, $mageRunType);

    and right before this, we’re going to add the following code:

    switch($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']) {
         case 'shoes.com':
          
         case 'www.shoes.com':
                 
         $mageRunCode = 'shoes'; 
                 
         $mageRunType = 'website';
           
         break; 
    }
    

    If you have more than two stores, you will need to add additional cases to the above code block, e.g.:

    switch($_SERVER['HTTP_HOST']) {
      	
         case 'shoes.com':
      	
         case 'www.shoes.com':
      	      
         $mageRunCode = 'shoes';
      	      
         $mageRunType = 'website';
      	
         break;
      	
         case 'hats.com':
      	
         case 'www.hats.com':
      		  
         $mageRunCode = 'hats';
         $mageRunType = 'website';
      	break;  }

Addon Domain Method

This is the same scenario as above, except it takes a little longer to setup. This method might be more useful to you if, for example, you wanted to have a blog on one domain, but not on the other. You couldn’t do that with a parked domain. Here’s how we would set this up for the shoes.com domain:

  1. Login to cPanel for your domain, and click on the Addon Domains icon.
  2. For the New Domain Name, we’ll enter shoes.com. cPanel will automatically fill in the next two fields, so remove public_html/ from the Document Root field, leaving us with just shoes.com. This step isn’t required, but for organisational purposes, it makes more sense.
  3. Set a password for this domain and click on the Add Domain button.
  4. Login to your site via SSH, and go to the directory that we previously set in the Document Root field above when adding our domain. In our case, we would do the following:
    cd shoes.com/
  5. Copy the index.php and .htaccess file from the directory where Magento is installed, which would be in our root web directory:
    cp ../public_html/index.php ../public_html/.htaccess .
  6. Open up the index.php file that we just copied over and replace the following line of code:
    $mageFilename = 'app/Mage.php';

    with the following:

    $mageFilename = '../public_html/app/Mage.php';
  7. With the index.php file still open, look for this line (it’s the last line of the file):
    Mage::run($mageRunCode, $mageRunType);

    and right before this, we’re going to add the following code:

    $mageRunCode = 'shoes';  
    $mageRunType = 'website';
  8. Lastly, we need to create symbolic links to point to a few directories:
    ln -s ../public_html/app ./app  
    ln -s ../public_html/errors ./errors  
    ln -s ../public_html/includes ./includes  
    ln -s ../public_html/js ./js  
    ln -s ../public_html/lib ./lib  
    ln -s ../public_html/media ./media  
    ln -s ../public_html/skin ./skin  
    ln -s ../public_html/var ./var

Subdomain Method

For this method, we’ll pretend we own mall.com, and it’s set up as a portal that links to the various shops within the mall. Magento will be installed on the mall.com domain, and all of the shops will be in subdomains, e.g.:

  • shoes.mall.com
  • shirts.mall.com

Here’s how we would set this up for the shoes subdomain

  1. Login to cPanel for your domain, and click on the Subdomains icon.
  2. For the Subdomain, we’ll enter shoes. cPanel will automatically fill in the next field, so remove public_html/ from the Document Root field, leaving us with just shoes. This step isn’t required, but for organisational purposes, it makes more sense.
  3. Click the Create button.
  4. Login to your site via SSH, and go to the directory that we previously set in the Document Root field above when creating our subdomain. In our case, we would do the following:
    cd shoes/
  5. Copy the index.php and .htaccess file from the directory where Magento is installed, which would be in our root web directory:
    cp ../public_html/index.php ../public_html/.htaccess .
  6. Open up the index.php file that we just copied over and replace the following line of code:
    $mageFilename = 'app/Mage.php';

    with the following:

    $mageFilename = '../public_html/app/Mage.php';
  7. With the index.php file still open, look for this line (it’s the last line of the file):
    Mage::run($mageRunCode, $mageRunType);

    and right before this, we’re going to add the following code:

    $mageRunCode = 'shoes';  
    $mageRunType = 'website';
  8. Lastly, we need to create symbolic links to point to a few directories:
    ln -s ../public_html/app ./app  
    ln -s ../public_html/errors ./errors  
    ln -s ../public_html/includes ./includes  
    ln -s ../public_html/js ./js  
    ln -s ../public_html/lib ./lib  
    ln -s ../public_html/media ./media  
    ln -s ../public_html/skin ./skin  
    ln -s ../public_html/var ./var

Subdirectory Method

This is the same scenario as above, except all of the shops will be in subdirectories, e.g.:

  • mall.com/shoes
  • mall.com/shirts

Here’s how we would set this up for the shoes subdirectory:

  1. Login to your site via SSH, and create a subdirectory where your second store will be:
    cd public_html  
    mkdir shoes/  
    cd shoes/
  2. Copy the index.php and .htaccess file from the directory where Magento is installed, which would be in our root web directory:
    cp ../public_html/index.php ../public_html/.htaccess .
  3. Open up the index.php file that we just copied over and replace the following line of code:
    $mageFilename = 'app/Mage.php';

    with the following:

    $mageFilename = '../public_html/app/Mage.php';
  4. With the index.php file still open, look for this line (it’s the last line of the file):
    Mage::run($mageRunCode, $mageRunType);

    and right before this, we’re going to add the following code:

    $mageRunCode = 'shoes';  
    $mageRunType = 'website';

Managing Multiple Stores

It’s very important to remember that now that you have multiple stores to manage from one admin panel, that you make sure you’re changing the configuration for the appropriate store.

In the System → Configuration section, if you leave the drop-down menu for Current Configuration Scope set to Default Config, it will globally change the values for all of your stores, assuming you haven’t removed the checkmark next to Use default throughout the configuration sections.

You can change the configuration values globally, for each website, and for individual store views.

Secure Checkout For Each Store

For those of you in dedicated hosting environments, you can follow either the addon or parked domain method from above, and edit the httpd.conf file to give the addon or parked domain a dedicated IP address.

However, this is not advised. Your changes will most likely be overwritten with a control panel upgrade, Apache or PHP rebuild, or even simple maintenance.

Your best bet would be to setup each store as a separate account, which can be done in WHM if you have access to it, or in the case of our Magento VPS Hosting, something we will be able to set up for you.

Once you have all of your domains set up as individual accounts, you would follow steps 5, 7 and 8 for the addon domain method, except you’re going to use absolute paths instead of relative paths for the symbolic links, e.g.:

ln -s /home/username/public_html/app ./app
ln -s /home/username/public_html/errors ./errors  
ln -s /home/username/public_html/includes ./includes  
ln -s /home/username/public_html/js ./js  
ln -s /home/username/public_html/lib ./lib  
ln -s /home/username/public_html/media ./media  
ln -s /home/username/public_html/skin ./skin  
ln -s /home/username/public_html/var ./var

Lastly, in order for the above to work, you will need suEXEC disabled. This won’t be a problem in a dedicated hosting environment since you don’t have to worry about other people being able to access your files.

This is just one of the many advantages of running your online business in a more secure and flexible hosting environment like this. If you’re on our Magento VPS Hosting, this is something we’ll have to disable for you.

Once you’ve done the above, all of your stores will have their own secure checkout and IP address, but will still share the same codebase and backend for management purposes.

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