Ok, I tweaked the title a little for SEO purposes. If you'd like to learn the differences, Magento Website Pros & Cons, Stores and Store Views, this is the article.

I set out to learn the absolute differences myself in order to determine if I should create a new Magento Store view, Store or Website for a new wholesale website. My client wants their retailers to log in as a retailer in order to see specific pricing and specials for retailers. You can also use the Magento multi store functionality in order to create completely different store looks, with different products, or the same exact store with a completely different set of benefits. Let's see what those benefits are.

Magento Store Views

The purpose behind the Magento Store Views was to provide store owners with the ability to have granular localization support. You could very easily create a Store View for nearly every language right out of the gate. The only difference is that you'd need to have a native speaker of the other language re-write your product descriptions.

You'll notice that most of the store view functionality is isolated to adjust the customer facing text of a setting. Orders and a few export options are offered for Store Views, but not text changes.

Themes

What you can do:

  • You will be able to assign different themes to each store view.

Payment Methods

What you cannot do:

  • You will not be able to have specific payment methods for each store view

What you can do:

  • You will be able to adjust the naming conventions of your payment methods

Shipping Methods

What you cannot do:

  • You will not be able to have separate shipping methods for each store view

What you can do:

  • You will be able to adjust the naming conventions of your shipping methods

Categories

What you cannot do:

  • You cannot change the category structure between store views

What you can do:

  • You will be able to adjust the titles and descriptions of your categories

Products

What you cannot do:

  • You cannot change the tax structures within store views

What you can do:

  • You will be able to adjust the titles and descriptions of your products

Orders

What you can do:

  • You will be able to see orders that have been processed from a specific store view
  • You will be able to manage orders based upon their store view

Reports

What you cannot do:

  • You will not be able to view most reports based upon store view segmentation

Magento Stores

The primary purpose behind the Magento Store layer is the ability to sell various different products, structured within different categories to the same user base with the same checkout parameters.

Because the Magento Store Layer requires that you create a new Magento Store View you will have all of the functionality of the aforementioned, plus some additional functionality.

Payment Methods

What you cannot do:

  • You will not be able to have specific payment methods for each Store

Shipping Methods

What you cannot do:

  • You will not be able to have separate shipping methods for each Store

Products

What you cannot do:

  • You cannot change the tax structures within Stores
  • You cannot manage a separate inventory with Stores

What you can do:

  • You will be able to manage a completely different catalog between Stores

Categories

What you can do:

  • You will be able to manage a completely different category structure for each Store

Configuration Settings

What you cannot do:

  • You will not be able to manage ANY configuration settings between Stores

Multiple Magento Websites

The primary purpose behind the Magento Website layer is the ability to change every aspect of the customer experience, including the ability to manage a completely different set of customers for each Website.

There's essentially nothing that you cannot do with multiple Magento Websites. From the reporting and orders to the customer base and checkout configurations, you can manage everything with different parameters.