The B2B market also went through a revolution. According to Digital Commerce 360, in 2021, online sales on B2B e-commerce sites, login portals, and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion. The wholesale industry also went online. But can you actually sell to other businesses through the Shopify store?
Yes – since 2017, Shopify has been running its own B2B channel to let merchants sell their products to businesses and retailers. In this article, we will outline some of its best features but also the limitations of the Shopify b2b wholesale channel – all to help you find out if the Shopify wholesale store might be a good tool for your B2B selling needs.
B2B Shopify wholesale channel – what is it?
Shopify dedicated Wholesale and B2B channel allow you to expand your business to selling wholesale by setting up a password-protected storefront that works as an extension of the main store. Inside, you can sell products to clients at custom prices, create bundles of products or offer limited products only for the B2B buyers who have their wholesale accounts on the platform.
If you want to take advantage of the wholesale option though, be prepared to pay a bit as it’s only available on Shopify Plus. The price for a Shopify Plus plan starts at $2000/month and the price increases as your revenue grow. Having a dedicated Shopify Plus wholesale channel would be just one of the many benefits the platform could give you, though – such as unlimited customization and automation options through various Shopify apps.
If you do not have the budget for the Shopify Plus pricing plan, there’s one more way in which you can sell to businesses – the Handshake marketplace. Basically, it’s an app that connects retailers to approved Shopify store owners and allows merchants to sell their products to them. Shopify Marketplace also has a few apps that you can use to create special pricing lists and give discounts to different wholesale customers – for example, B2B pricing solution or Wholesale Club.
While a Shopify wholesale app like the Handshake marketplace or any app available through the app market won’t offer you aS much as the dedicated channel would but it’s a good alternative for smaller businesses looking to start with B2B or wholesale or store owners who want to “test the waters” first.
Why Shopify is good for B2B and Wholesale?
Now, why should you even consider getting a wholesale channel, especially looking at the pretty hefty price of the Plus subscription? First of all, it might simply make managing your stores much easier for you. If you have both a retail Shopify store and a wholesale business somewhere else, then you might spend too much time managing two (or more) separate stores.
Shopify wholesale would meanwhile allow you to manage retail and wholesale customers from the same platform as the inventory, orders, and all other customer data would all be in one place.
What’s more, the channel offers many options for pricing and invoicing. For example, you can set the same discount for all products, but you can also add a volume discount. Or you can create wholesale price lists for different customers. You can even create multiple pricing lists, such as having a special pricing list for your best clients or offering a custom quote for an order.
But most importantly, it would let you have a wholesale order center that’s open 24/7 and where customers can place an order whenever it’s convenient for them. This will be particularly useful if you wholesale to businesses in other time zones – or plan to start selling products internationally.
What are the features of a Shopify B2B and Wholesale channel?
There are a few other ways to start selling products to B2B without going for the dedicated wholesale channel – if you are just starting with selling to businesses or don’t have enough revenue from the existing store to justify the $2000 a month subscription of Shopify Plus.
- Create discount codes that you will give only to wholesale customers or to specific customer groups
- Set up a second store where you will only sell wholesale
- Use the Handshake marketplace to find retailers or businesses that might be interested in your products.
However, Shopify Plus and the wholesale channel can bring a wealth of advanced features that can be very useful for your business. Let’s look at some of those features.
Separate wholesale storefront and custom domain
The first benefit is getting a separate, password-protected, storefront only for your wholesale customers. That page isn’t accessible from the main store and can’t be found through search engines. Instead, the wholesale or B2B buyers can only access the store if you shared a link to the store with them and they have their own customer accounts there. This means that only they will have access to this portion of your website and can place orders there or use special promotions – not retail customers.
In addition, Shopify Plus merchants can now add a custom domain to their wholesale storefronts. A customized domain allows retailers to offer a branded experience across channels while making it easier for customers to find their wholesale stores.
What you should know though is that the wholesale storefront is pretty limited when it comes to customization options. You can change a few basic elements of the store but the main layout can’t, unfortunately, be changed.
Custom pricing & order limits
The second best feature of Shopify Wholesale (and overall, the Plus subscription) is the ability to set the prices on the B2B store exactly as you want it. With the dedicated Shopify wholesale channel, you can:
- Set fixed wholesale prices for products
- Set percentage-based or volume-based discounts
- Set minimum & maximum quantity order limits
- Create multiple price lists with different prices for specific customers or customer groups
The minimum and maximum order limits can help you control the number of products customers can order, while the volume discounts can help you attract businesses. Moreover, you can use the pricing lists to give your most loyal clients a special offer – as a way of saying “Thank you”.
Now something that your wholesale clients will like (and will save plenty of your time as well) – customer dashboards. Shopify wholesale gives them their own custom account and dashboard, which they can use to purchase, track and reorder through their account credentials. They can place orders 24/7 through their account and without having to speak to you directly. Plus, their customer account gives them access to all current and past information, such as order status, tracking number, or invoices.
That way, you will spend far less time managing orders over the phone or via email – you and your customers will have access to all the information needed through the wholesale channel dashboard.
Order processing features inside Shopify Wholesale can also make managing orders much easier for you. Here’s how it works: all orders placed through the wholesale store will appear in your Shopify admin as draft orders. After you review the orders, you can send the customer an invoice with instructions on how to pay. Afterwards, you can select one of the following ways to process orders:
- Send invoices that request payment via the payment provider listed in the customer’s Shopify account
- Send a customized invoice email that asks for payment using alternative payment options, such as a wire transfer
- Accept credit cards, cheques or other payment methods for customers willing to pay upfront.
- Accept payment via Afterpay, which will allow clients to pay in instalments and automatically collect payments.
When you receive payment for the invoices, those will be marked on the Shopify admin page as paid – the same place as your retail data.
For smaller purchases (such as product samples), you can also allow the buyers to pay directly at the checkout without going with the order review. You can also limit how much a customer can order before needing to submit the order review.
For example, if you want to let your wholesale clients pay at checkout for orders under $100, set the maximum order amount to $100. Then, the customer can pay for the order at the checkout when the order is under $100, without the hassle of going through the order review. If their order exceeds $100 though, then the customer will have to submit a draft order for you to review.
Shopify B2B pricing plan
Now a bit about how much the wholesale channel (or rather, Shopify Plus subscription) will cost you.
Regular Shopify offers three flat-rate e-commerce plans, which cost $29, $79, and $299 per month, respectively. Shopify Plus meanwhile charges you based on the monthly sales volume. At the least, you can expect to pay $2,000 per month for using Shopify Plus. But if your revenue is above $800,000 per month, then the fee becomes a revenue-based model, and you will pay 0.25 % of your monthly revenue. Keep in mind this means the monthly fees might change from one month to another – but it won’t drop below $2000 a month.
In comparison to the cost of a regular Shopify subscription, the price of a Plus subscription might seem high – but the Plus subscription offers many extra benefits for businesses that justify the high cost. If you want to learn more about the benefits of a Shopify Plus subscription, you might want to check out our other articles on Shopify Plus.
How can we help you to develop the Shopify B2B website?
As we said earlier, to take advantage of all the benefits of the Shopify wholesale solution, you need first to buy a Shopify Plus subscription and migrate your shop to Plus. Then you’ll be able to add a wholesale page to the main store. If you already have a Shopify store, then moving to Plus should not be a problem. However, if you’re moving from another platform or starting from scratch, it’s best to hire a Shopify agency to help you transfer the data, customize the store layout, and set up the wholesale store.
We helped several brands migrate to Shopify Plus or launch their B2B Shopify store – for example, we built the first Polish Shopify B2B store for industrial shoe manufacturing brand and helped them connect their favorite third-party apps to Shopify. As a result, we gained a wealth of knowledge regarding both setting up regular stores but also finding our way in the Shopify B2B e-commerce industry so we could help brands with launching their first wholesale store.
So whether you need assistance integrating your favorite tools and apps, customizing the storefront, or working on the strategy of your new store, we can help.
If you already have a working wholesale or B2B store, then moving the store to a dedicated Shopify B2B solution might be your best bet, despite the high cost. Your B2B buyers can create an account there and login into their dashboard to place and track their orders 24/7 or manage their invoices without contacting you. You’ll also get many useful tools that will help you manage the wholesale store and customers much better. But if you don’t know where to start or aren’t yet convinced will the move be worth your time, how about asking our Shopify experts for help?