Shopify has been a big contributor to the explosive growth of the direct-to-consumer eCommerce market, a $17.8 billion market in the US that grew 24.3% in 2020. Also, the B2B market has been going through a revolution of its own.
Advances in eCommerce technology created an unprecedented adoption of eCommerce solutions within the B2B market which has jumped globally from $5.83 Trillion in 2013 to $12.2 Trillion in 2019.
It’s no surprise then that Shopify wanted in on some of this action too. In 2017 they launched a wholesale channel eCommerce solution to facilitate B2B sales on its platform.
But is it any good?
This article will outline some of its best features and discuss some limitations to help you understand if the Shopify wholesale channel is a good tool for B2B transactions.
What is Shopify wholesale channel?
The Shopify wholesale channel lets you create a dedicated wholesale storefront that’s password protected. This acts as an extension of your existing online store and allows you to sell your products to wholesale clients at custom wholesale prices.
You can also add wholesale-only products that your regular customers won’t see, and all orders made can be viewed from your main dashboard.
Shopify wholesale channel is only available on Shopify Plus. So, if you want the ability to sell to the world’s biggest online market with a Shopify solution, then you’ll have to pay the premium. The price for a Shopify Plus plan starts at $2000/month, and the price increases for more complex or higher volume businesses.
Shopify Automatic Wholesale Channel Process
Shopify’s wholesale channel automates your B2B business by providing a self-service online portal for wholesale customers. The process for wholesale customers can be broken down into three simple steps:
- Order Placement – customers login via your wholesale storefront and can place orders 24/7 without having to speak to you directly.
- Order History – customers can access their order & invoice history from their customer dashboard, giving them greater transparency.
- Order tracking – if an order confirmation email goes missing or never turns up, customers can log in, retrieve the tracking number, and view the order status to know exactly what stage their order is at.
This process means that you’ll be able to spend less time managing wholesale orders via telephone or email conversations. It also gives your customers all the information they need to keep up to date with their orders without the need to contact you.
How to do wholesale on Shopify if you’re not on Plus
If you don’t have the budget for the Shopify Plus pricing plan, you can use Handshake Marketplace to sell to wholesale retailers. It’s a Shopify app that connects retailers with approved Shopify merchants.
Although it’s not the same as having a dedicated wholesale channel, it’s a good alternative for smaller businesses looking to dip their toes into the B2B world.
You will have to apply to sell on Handshake, and you can look at the eligibility criteria on the application page here.
Shopify wholesale channel best features
When you set up your wholesale channel, you will get a new storefront that requires a unique login and password. This means that only your trusted wholesale customers can access this section of your site and enjoy the benefits of wholesale prices.
You can change your store name, the logo, and the background to the login page to create a branded look for your wholesale channel. However, the main wholesale channel that appears when customers have logged in has a set layout that cannot be edited to match the style of your main website.
Customized pricing & order limits
The goal for wholesale pricing is to cover costs, entice wholesale customers with competitive prices and maintain a profit margin that you are happy with. Wholesale prices are generally around 50% of retail prices to give wholesale customers a chance to make a decent profit too.
However, every business is unique, and you will need to work on a pricing strategy that works for you and your customers.
Minimum and maximum order limits can help you control the number of products your customers can order. Make sure the minimum volume makes it worth your time and that you have enough stock to fulfill the maximum order limit.
The Shopify wholesale channel enables you to:
- Set fixed wholesale prices for products and variants
- Set percentage off or volume-based pricing
- Set minimum & maximum quantity increments
- Apply minimum purchases storewide or per customer
These features will allow you to create a pricing and order limit strategy for your wholesale business that works for your needs.
Traditionally, wholesale customers require more support than retail customers regarding sales support, product displays, and order management. The Shopify wholesale channel gives your customers their dashboard, which they can use to purchase, track and reorder through their account credentials.
It’s simple, efficient, and provides excellent order management support to your wholesale customers.
All of the orders made on your wholesale channel will appear as a draft order in your Shopify admin. You can choose to process orders in several ways, which allow you to be flexible with your customers.
- Send invoices that request payment from the payment provider listed on the customer’s Shopify account.
- Send customized invoices that request payment from alternative payment methods such as wire transfers.
- Accept payment by credit card for customers who are willing to pay upfront.
- Accept payment via cheque by marking the order as paid once the funds have reached your account.
- Accept payment via Afterpay, which will automatically collect payments and will allow customers to pay in installments.
Add a Custom Domain to your Shopify Wholesale Store
This relatively new feature allows you to add a custom domain to your Shopify wholesale storefront. The custom domain will enable you to create a branded experience for Shopify wholesale customers and facilitate them to find you.
Having a designated B2C domain and a B2B domain will clearly differentiate your business to your retail and wholesale customers.
Moreover, you can opt to use a subdomain name to create a closely linked alternative domain name. For example, the primary domain will be www.myonlinestore.com, while the subdomain could be www.wholesale.myonlinestore.com.
Alternatively, you could use a different domain name altogether to create an even clearer distinction between the two branches of your business. For example, the primary domain will be www.myonlinestore.com, while the alternative domain could be something like www.mycompanybulkbuys.com.
Limitations of Shopify wholesale channel
Overall, the Shopify wholesale channel is a great solution for managing B2B sales. Nevertheless, you should take some shortages into account before you commit to $2000/month.
- The ability to edit the wholesale channel theme is limited. Your wholesale channel will look the same as other Shopify wholesale channels except for the logo and products listed.
- There are limited custom shipping options for wholesale customers. The default setting offers wholesale customers the same shipping rates that are listed on your main store. You can override these shipping rates on the preferences page of the wholesale channel. However, you can only input one rate. This means all of your wholesale customers will have to pay this rate, or you have to manually change the rate when you review each order.
- Search engines do not index Shopify wholesale channel website pages and products. So, it will be impossible to gain new customers from search traffic because your wholesale site won’t exist on search engine results pages.
Final thoughts on Shopify wholesale channel
Despite a few limitations to Shopify’s B2B wholesale ecommerce solution, the benefits are insurmountable. For $2000/month, you can create a customized, branded wholesale channel that lets you tap into the most extensive online market without the need to pay for expensive web developers or learn how to code.
The automatic process allows your wholesale customers to create an account and login into their dashboard to place and track orders 24/7 without needing to speak to you.
So, whether you’re looking for a solution to manage your chaotic wholesale orders or if you’re looking for a way to sell to wholesale retailers for the first time, the Shopify wholesale channel is an industry-leading solution that will save you time and hassle.