Perhaps you’re looking to set up a wholesale alternative to your existing D2C (direct-to-consumer) online store. Maybe you just want to set up an online wholesale business focusing on retailers.
You’re not alone.
As more and more businesses are looking for growth and cost reduction opportunities in wholesale eCommerce, platforms like Shopify Plus are well-equipped to take on this task.
With easy-to-integrate applications and experienced Shopify Plus Partners to help you, starting your wholesale journey has never been easier.
What’s more, there are several ways you can do it:
- Use a Shopify Plus wholesale channel.
- Use a separate clone store with a different domain name.
- Use a unified wholesale and retail store with one domain name.
Let’s look at how each wholesaling option works, with a focus on advantages and disadvantages.
Option 1: Use a Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel
A Shopify wholesale channel is only available to Shopify plus members. It is a separate, password-protected extension of your online store, exclusive to your wholesale customers.
Because it’s a separate extension of your online store, a wholesale channel requires different login credentials. Your regular customers can’t access your online store from your wholesale channel.
Consequently, your wholesale channel enables you to offer similar products at wholesale prices and volumes. You can also provide wholesale products that are not available in your online store.
The Advantages of a Wholesale Channel
If you’re selling to wholesale customers, Shopify’s wholesale channel makes processing and managing those large orders easier, for instance, by offering customizable volume options and tracking the orders.
The following are more ways your business can benefit from a wholesale channel.
- Flexible pricing. Because your wholesale channel is separate from your online store, you’re able to offer volume-based pricing and discounts to encourage bulk purchases.
- Low set-up costs and effort. A wholesale channel doesn’t need extra coding or development since it uses your Shopify Plus account. It uses the same app integrations as your retail-oriented online store.
- Simple management. A wholesale channel lets you keep your product listings in one store rather than two separate stores, even though your wholesale channel has a different domain name.
- Greater product customization. A wholesale channel enables you to offer wholesale-only products. It makes it easier for your wholesale customers to navigate and find what they’re looking for, minimizing bounce rates.
- Greater inventory management. A wholesale channel controls the minimum and maximum order limits, ensuring your wholesale orders are worth your time and your inventory is enough to fulfill them.
Considerations for Using a Wholesale Channel
Generally, Shopify’s wholesale channel is an excellent solution for managing B2B Commerce. However, there are some limitations you should consider before committing to an installation.
- Exclusive to Shopify Plus. This option is only available to Plus members; its starting monthly plan of $2,000 is out of reach for many small businesses.
- You have limited visual customization options. Your Shopify wholesale channel will resemble other Shopify wholesale channels, apart from the logo and products listed.
- Limited SEO. Wholesale channels and their listed products don’t rank on search engines, making it impossible to acquire new customers through search traffic.
- Uniform shipping rates. By default, wholesale customers get similar shipping rates to your main website. The only way to customize shipping rates is to edit each order manually, which can be difficult when processing many orders.
Option 2: A Separate Wholesale Site With a Different Domain
With a Shopify Plus plan, you’re able to create multiple clones of your primary store without additional charges; this could be your wholesale store.
Setting up a second store is ideal for operating your wholesale business across different regions, languages, and currencies (international trade). This ability allows your business to access foreign markets, resulting in growth.
Also, from a marketing perspective, cloning your website is more effective for generating localized content and increasing organic traffic.
The Advantages of a Clone Store
With Shopify, cloning your website doesn’t mean starting over. All you need to do is transfer CSV files from your primary store and combine them with additional data, like a copy of your theme.
With a clone store, you benefit in the following ways.
- Centralized management. If you’re running multiple stores, you can use Shopify organization admin to operate at an organizational level rather than an individual store level. This feature means you can edit and make changes to all your stores in one go.
- Flexible discounts. Shopify clone stores support Shopify scripts and discount codes, allowing you to offer percentage-based deals, currency based-discounts, and fixed-amount discounts.
- Greater data insights. Using a multi-store approach to wholesaling allows you to serve various demographics and provides you with a more significant opportunity to gather information about your store visitors and their preferences.
- Risk-free testing. A clone store allows you to test apps, code, and theme changes without affecting your live store. Shopify classifies them as development stores, and they’re available under the Shopify Partner program—an advanced Shopify plan.
Considerations for a Clone Store
- International transaction fees. Some credit cards or banks may charge international transaction fees when serving international clients, even when the transaction is in a local currency.
- Higher maintenance costs. Running clone websites will necessitate the use of additional applications and systems to ensure maximum stability. This requirement raises your technical costs through extended maintenance periods and higher integration subscriptions.
- Possibility of confusion. If your branding and promotion efforts aren’t clear enough, your customers may be confused about which website to visit. This confusion may affect the customer’s shopping experience and your sales.
Option 3: One Domain for Both Your Wholesale and Consumer Site
Both of your stores are accessible from one domain name under this option. Your wholesale customers log into your existing D2C store to get wholesale prices and discounts.
For some industries blended wholesale-retail approach serves both customer types without the pains and costs of managing multiple solutions.
Retail customers get promotions and new products; wholesale customers get easy reordering and multiple shipping options—all in one website.
The Advantages of a Unified Domain Approach
- Easier to brand and promote. Promoting one website for both types of customers makes your marketing message more memorable, as they only have to visit one domain for both needs. There’s no confusion as to where to go.
- Lower maintenance costs. A unified wholesale-retail website reduces your overall need for technical support and expenses. It reduces the number of integrated applications you require, website maintenance time, etc.
- Greater shopping experience. A centralized source of information makes it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for than multiple websites. This feature provides convenience and adds to the shopping experience.
- It centralizes your catalog. A unified website means all your information is in one database rather than multiple, interlinked databases. This organization makes it easier for a website administrator to update or retrieve your data.
- Easy to set up. You don't have to subscribe to new app integrations and systems when setting up a unified wholesale-retail website; you can reuse existing ones to serve this purpose.
The Disadvantages of a Unified Domain Approach
- Possibility of human error. A unified website serves both retail and wholesale customers, increasing the risk of human error, e.g., where wholesale discounts mistakenly appear as retail discounts.
- Limited customization. Using one domain for wholesale and retail customers limits your ability to offer tailored services to each customer type. Focusing more on one impacts the shopping experience of the other and sales.
The following table is a summary of the key differences between each wholesaling option.
A Wholesale Channel
A Unified Website
A Clone Store
- Cheapest option
- 2nd most expensive option.
- Most expensive option
- A wholesale channel incorporates two domain names into one store
- A unified website features one domain name for one store
- A clone store involves two domain names for two stores.
- Can use existing app integrations
- Can use existing app integrations
- Requires additional app integrations
Work With a Shopify Plus Partner
So there you have it, three ways you can sell wholesale today on Shopify Plus, each with its pros and cons.
The right option for you depends on your specific business needs. However, if you’re just starting your wholesale journey, a Shopify Wholesale channel would be the perfect option. It’s the cheapest and least complex of the three.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business succeed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Shopify Plus the same as Shopify?
No, it’s not. Shopify Plus is for large, enterprise-level businesses, while Shopify is for small to medium-sized companies.
Who are Shopify Partners?
Shopify partners are experts formally contracted to help merchants or businesses set up stores on Shopify, develop Shopify apps, etc.
Why is Shopify Plus so Expensive?
The Shopify Plus plan assumes that the more you make, the more support and server resources you need. As such, charges start at $2,000/month or more for higher volume business.