Creating a Shopify Wholesale Store For B2B eCommerce

30th April 2021

Whether you’re a B2B business looking for an eCommerce solution or an existing eCommerce store looking to bring your first wholesale customers onboard, there’s a number of ways you can use Shopify to power your trade store. I’ve broken the options down into the 3 main ways of achieving this: a basic solution, a mid-level solution and an advanced solution.

Our main criteria for selecting the best option for our clients when creating a wholesale store is the size of the business we’re working with. The more advanced the solution we implement, the better the experience for the customer - but of course there’s also a significant increase in the costs involved.

The Basic Solution

A great starting point for small businesses looking to sell to trade customers for the first time is utilising Shopify’s offer code system. Similar to how you’d usually set up a discount code for your latest promotion, we can set up permanent percentage discounts for your wholesale customers.

This isn’t the ideal solution and isn’t recommended for bigger businesses as it doesn’t look particularly professional. Wholesale customers will of course have to enter a discount code every time they make a purchase, but in my experience customers will be accommodating towards smaller businesses and be perfectly willing to work in this way.

The discount codes you create for this can either be for individual customers or you can maintain a group of customers for each percentage discount. It can become difficult to manage a large number of customers over time but utilising customer groups definitely helps combat this.

It’s also essential that you think about the payment methods you’re offering your customers and ensuring that these accommodate for trade customers. We recommend setting up a manual payment method called ‘Wholesale Order’, this will then be available as an option during checkout and will avoid B2B customers needing to enter their payment details.

Limitations of the basic solution:

  • Trade customers will have to enter offer an code every time they checkout on your store.
  • Pricing is limited to percentage discounts only.
  • All products have to have the same % discount, this can’t be tailored by product or collection.
  • Managing a large number of customers becomes difficult over time using this solution.
  • The customer will not see their prices as they browse the store, these will only become available to them when they enter their discount code in checkout.

The Mid-Level Solution

For medium sized businesses that are looking to create a B2B Shopify store, a great solution is to utilise a third party app to achieve this. In our experience the best app for this currently on the market is the Bold Custom Pricing app, we’re not affiliated with this in any way - it just works well!

The big benefits of this solution over just using discount codes are that firstly the customer does not have to enter a discount code when they checkout, their prices are automatically applied to them. They can also see these prices as they browse the store giving them a much better shopping experience.

Another massive advantage of this solution is the flexibility it provides when it comes to setting prices for your customers. Not only can you customise complete price lists for your trade customers, you can also do this at an individual level, allowing you to tailor your prices to a granular level. The functionality to add tiered pricing/bulk discounts can also be added as an optional extra for customers purchasing large quantities of certain products.

Bold Custom pricing is a comprehensive system and although the setup is complex and usually requires help from a developer, once set up it really gives you a fully functioning Shopify wholesale store. Compared to most Shopify apps it has a reasonably high monthly cost of $39.99 to $79.99 depending on the level of functionality you require. In my opinion though this is more than justified.

Limitations of the mid-level solution:

  • It can get difficult to manage and maintain price lists and customers as your business grows.
  • Some simple tasks like adding new products to your store become more complex, as you also need to add prices in the application.
  • The user interface for Bold Custom pricing can be quite clunky and certainly takes some getting used to.
  • Although the customer’s relevant prices are shown as they browse the store, banners and other content will be the same for all customers (B2B and B2C) without custom development.

The Advanced Solution

The best solution for big businesses with a turnover of over a million pounds is to use Shopify Plus for their wholesale solution. A wholesale website is included as part of a Shopify Plus subscription, so businesses with existing Shopify Plus stores can add a wholesale store to their offering at no extra cost. For businesses without existing Shopify Plus stores the pricing for Shopify Plus starts at $2000 a month, so this really is only an option for large businesses.

As you’d expect, the Shopify Plus wholesale solution is fantastic and allows businesses to create great customer experiences. Any business of this level is certainly going to be working with a Shopify agency at this point and they’re going to be able to create a bespoke wholesale solution using this platform. Generally the best solution here is to present wholesale customers with a separate Shopify store entirely, while sharing inventory and other aspects of the back office. This is easily achievable in Shopify Plus.

Custom pricing, payment options and personalising the customer experience are all open to you with Shopify Plus. As this is Shopify’s own solution, everything is easy to manage, understand and maintain, even if your wholesale customers number in thousands. You can even utilise Shopify Flow as part of Shopify Plus to automate some of your back office processes and make life simpler for your team as you scale.

As you can see, regardless of your business size there’s a solution for your Shopify wholesale store whether you’re a multi-million pound business or just getting started.

Get in touch with us if you’d like to chat about your store and how we can help you create a great wholesale solution.

Author

Daniel Tiffany

Daniel Tiffany

Director
Dream Big Digital

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