• Applies To: All Services
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Time Needed: 20 minutes
  • Tools Needed: None
  • Reading Time: 35 minutes

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. Sub Domain 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:

These stores could also be setup on their own domain and still share the same instance of Magento:

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

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 Caveat

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 sub domains, and you've purchased a wildcard SSL certificate.

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 Split-Dedicated platform. In this type of environment, we can install a multi-domain or UCC certificate.

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 dropdown, 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 organizational 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 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:

    $mageRunCode = 'shoes';
    $mageRunType = 'website';
  7. 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

Sub Domain Method

For this method, we'll pretend we own mall.com, and it's setup 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 sub domains, e.g.:

Here's how we would set this up for the shoes sub domain:

  1. Login to cPanel for your domain, and click on the Sub Domains icon.
  2. For the Sub Domain, 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 organizational 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 sub domain. 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 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:

    $mageRunCode = 'shoes';
    $mageRunType = 'website';
  7. 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.:

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 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:

    $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 SystemConfiguration section, if you leave the dropdown 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 purchase a Unified Communications Certificate (UCC), also known as a multi-domain or multiple domain certificate. If you're on our Split-Dedicated product, after you've purchased and installed this certificate, we can make the necessary changes to support this type of certificate (this is something we have to do, since it's not natively supported by cPanel). Once we have the SSL setup, you simply follow the parked domain method for each domain you've assigned to your UCC certificate.

This is just one of the many advantages of running your online business in a more secure and flexible hosting environment like this.

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