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How to Sell Wholesale on Shopify

by | Jul 20, 2022

Many businesses want to sell wholesale on Shopify. Some already sell B2C and now want to sell their products to retailers too. Others are primarily B2B businesses, and are looking for an online sales platform. Regardless of where your business is at, if you want to know how to sell wholesale on Shopify, you’ve come to the right place!

There are 5 main options for selling wholesale on Shopify:

    • Shopify Plus wholesale channel
    • A wholesale app
    • Custom coding on a regular Shopify store
    • Set up a second store
    • Shopify’s Handshake market

Each of these options has pros and cons, which we’re going to go over. Read on to find out which route is right for you, or skip to the TL;DR version at the end!

Shopify Plus

Shopify has multiple subscription plans, with Shopify Plus being the top tier. It’s designed to be an enterprise solution for big businesses that do a high volume of sales. Shopify Plus offers a wholesale channel that enables sellers to create a separate, password-protected storefront that is part of their existing Shopify store. Within that password protected storefront, wholesale customers can be shown customized pricing that is different from what regular shoppers see.

Pros: 

    • Allows merchants to build a wholesale channel within their existing stores.
    • Very streamlined, as orders and customers are tracked within the current store admin.
    • Has functionality like percentage-based discounts, custom pricing, and volume-based pricing.
    • Shopify has support folks available to help out if you encounter challenges.

Cons:

    • Very expensive! Pricing for Shopify Plus starts at $2,000 USD per month, which is prohibitive for many businesses.
    • The wholesale channel within Shopify Plus does not integrate with any apps.
Apps

Even if we weren’t biased, we’d still tell you that for most merchants, a wholesale app is the way to go. An app like Wholesale Club is easy to use, low cost, and gives you all the functionality you need.

A good wholesale app does what Shopify Plus’s wholesale channel does: creating a password-protected storefront in addition to your main storefront. But apps do this at a much lower cost, and with more features, like quick order forms and net terms. As well, most wholesale apps offer free trials (with Wholesale Club you get 30 days to test it out) so you know what you’re getting into, and there’s a support team to help out if you get stuck. The only real downside is that most wholesale apps aren’t free – but even if you only get a few wholesale orders a month, the cost of an app is totally worth it!

Pros:

    • Like Shopify Plus, apps allow merchants to build a wholesale channel within their existing store.
    • Also like Shopify Plus, this option is very streamlined because orders are still coming in to the store admin.
    • Offer plenty of functionality like volume discounts, net terms, quick order forms, custom pricing, and order minimums.
    • No duplication of work! Create one product listing and manage the wholesale pricing aspect through the app.
    • Good apps have support teams ready to help you out. (Wholesale Club not only has a friendly and helpful team on standby, it also has a library of videos on YouTube and a whole Help Center!).

Cons: 

    • They’re not free. But they’re way cheaper than Shopify Plus!
    • Not all wholesale apps have all the functionality you may want.
    • Sometimes apps conflict with your Shopify theme or with other apps. If this happens, the app’s support team will be able to help you out.
    • They require some maintenance. Anytime your theme is updated or changes, the storefront should be tested to ensure all apps still run properly.
    • Some require changes to your storefront in order to work. For example, sometimes in order to offer discounts, you have to deactivate a features like Ajax carts or dynamic checkouts.

 

Coding

Setting up wholesale selling on Shopify through custom code is definitely the most difficult option, but it’s also free! Those are two very strong pros and cons, right there. How exactly you set things up is up to you; this post is being written by a marketer, not a developer, so when it comes to code, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . But the general process is that you use code to create pages and collections that only logged-in wholesale customers can see. If you’ve got those developer skills, it’s an option for you!

Pros:

    • Free!

Cons: 

    • It involves working in your theme’s code. If you have a developer on staff, or are comfortable doing this yourself, great! If not, this route may be a challenge.
    • There’s no support for this method – if you’re working directly in the code and something goes wrong, there’s no one to help troubleshoot.
    • If you’re selling to both the public and to wholesale customers, you will likely have to duplicate your product listings.
    • The functionality provided by other methods, like volume discounts or order minimums, will likely have to be added separately, whether by apps or more coding.
Set up a Second Store

    This solution is for merchants who are already selling B2C and want to add a B2B option. It’s easy, since you’ve already got one store going, and this way you have full control over the wholesale site and there’s no risk of it conflicting with your B2C storefront. The downside is that having two stores with largely the same merchandise is also twice the Shopify subscription cost and creates double the work for you.

    If you do go this route, you are likely to still end up wanting a wholesale app! They’ll provide the extra functionality most wholesalers are looking for, like order minimums and quick order forms.

    Pros:

      • Gives you complete, 100% control over your wholesale store.
      • Works really well if your wholesale business is very different from your B2C business, such as if your inventory is separate, or if you want distinct branding.

    Cons:

      • You’re paying for a second Shopify subscription, and potentially paying twice for apps if you’re using them in both of your stores.
      • Double the work! Both in terms of set up and in terms of managing orders.
      • There’s potential for confusion among your customers if they end up at the wrong store.
      • Only makes sense for merchants who want both B2C and B2B stores.
    Handshake

      Handshake is a completely different way of selling wholesale on Shopify. It’s a marketplace where retailers can buy directly from your brand. You install the Handshake app on your store, set up your seller profile, and then orders that are placed through the marketplace are sent right to your store admin. While this is not the same as having your own wholesale storefront (and the control and functionality that goes along with that), it is an interesting option for merchants who make their own goods.

      Pros:

        • Free! You just have to have a Shopify store already.
        • Streamlined – orders appear in your store admin.
        • Helps expose your business to wholesale shoppers.

      Cons:

        • It’s not the same as having your own wholesale store.
        • It’s only available to businesses located in the United States.
        • The platform belongs to Shopify, so if they ever shut it down, that sales channel would disappear.
        • You have to make the products yourself (no reselling products from another manufacturer).
      The TL;DR version
        • Shopify Plus: good but very expensive
        • Apps: low cost, easy, and effective but there are some technical considerations with any app
        • Custom code: free but the most technically complicated
        • Second Shopify store: easy but double the work and likely still requires an app for wholesale functionality
        • Handshake: a totally different option that could work for some merchants, but is not an actual wholesale store

      There you have it! The various options for how to sell wholesale on Shopify. Naturally, we recommend our app Wholesale Club, as it’s going to give you everything you need, all in one place, at a low monthly cost. If you think Wholesale Club is the right route for your wholesale business, learn more about it or head right over to the app store to install and get going on your free trial!

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