How to Launch a Wholesale Ecommerce Channel with One Click & Tap into the $7.7 Trillion Online B2B Market

How to Launch a Wholesale Ecommerce Channel with One Click & Tap into the $7.7 Trillion Online B2B Market

There’s a dirty little secret only people like you know ...

Despite being told that business is a marathon, rather than a sprint, you know better.

To sustain accelerated growth requires you to sprint the entire length of the entrepreneurial marathon you’ve dedicated yourself to conquering. High-growth companies can’t pace themselves or afford to leave anything in the tank.

It’s an all-out sprint for sales, market share, and supremacy …

Where can you find the stamina and speed necessary to maintain hyper growth?

Identifying new sales channels that only a fraction of your competitors are currently selling through can give you a valuable head start and help you achieve sustainable accelerated growth.

A New Wholesale State of Mind

The global B2B opportunity is multiplying …

In fact, while B2B ecommerce is already a $7.7 trillion market, online purchases are just a fraction of all B2B transactions — meaning, there’s plenty of room for B2B ecommerce to grow further.

Unfortunately, following the wholesale status quo — with sales associates taking orders by phone or email and manually entering them for fulfillment — will likely cost you too much time and treasure to scale.

Instead, merchants destined to succeed must adopt a new wholesale state of mind; one that evolves to understand that B2B buyers expect B2C treatment in the form of a self-service wholesale ecommerce platform that offers full visibility of the status of their orders.

It’s why we built the …

Wholesale ecommerce channel

Using your existing Shopify Plus store, you can easily and with one click create a branded, self-service storefront for high-volume buyers to access and order from wherever and whenever they want.


Launch your wholesale channel today


Not on Shopify Plus? Learn more about Wholesale here

Instead of relying on spreadsheets, manual draft orders, or expansion stores the wholesale channel lets you expand your market, sell to customers who want to buy in bulk, and increase lifetime customer value by:

  • Creating a turnkey, password-protected storefront in minutes
  • Listing wholesale-specific products or collections
  • Offering fixed, percentage off, or volume-based pricing
  • Setting minimum and maximum quantity increments
  • Applying minimum purchases storewide or per customer
  • Syncing inventory, orders, and customers in one admin
  • Connecting your 3PL, OMS, ERP, and CRM
  • Receiving online payments immediately through credit cards
  • Allowing customers to quickly purchase, track, and reorder through their account dashboard

For customers that prefer a more human touch, with the Draft Orders API, you can review orders and inventory levels, adjust shipping costs, and upsell or negotiate terms prior to processing.

Your wholesale store is more than just a glossy product catalog. It’s a place where customers can log in to see specific products priced just for them.

Even better, you can automate 80% of the orders that are the same as those in your main store while still offering a unique wholesale customer experience. In fact, the Draft Orders API can surface wholesale purchases alongside online orders giving you a streamlined single point of integration.

How Merchants Are Using Wholesale

While it may take time for some wholesale customers to get comfortable with a self-serve portal that no longer requires a human touch, merchants will find they can get started easily and quickly with one-click channel integration once they’ve structured the contents of their wholesale storefront.

Despite the complexity often associated with offering different wholesale pricing strategies to different customers, the Plus wholesale storefront is simple and easy to navigate for customers as well as merchants. In addition to being able to easily create price lists and customer accounts, the store settings function positions you to tailor the customer experience.

That’s exactly what Laird Superfood, founded by renowned surfer Laird Hamilton and best known for its coconut-based creamer and coffee, did recently when it launched its new wholesale channel.

Instead of missing out on would-be sales from wholesale customers calling in the wee hours of the morning when Laird’s headquarters is unstaffed, the company now relies on the Plus wholesale channel to automate the process and significantly improve the customer experience in three key ways:

  • Order Placement: customers log in to the portal and place orders anytime they want without having to call or email a Laird representative
  • Order History: customers logged in to the portal are able to easily access their invoice history which Laird says is a popular feature and gives customers instant visibility they lacked before
  • Order Tracking: if customers misplace or do not receive a confirmation email with an order tracking number, they can easily retrieve the number themselves and track the order’s status in real time

“Being able to automate the wholesale process changes how we build our team,” says Luan Pham, Laird’s CMO. “It prevents us from missing 2 A.M. orders and keeps our customers from having to wait to place an order until we’re in the office. It just solves so many problems.”

Today, wholesale accounts for approximately a quarter of Laird’s sales. However, executives estimate wholesale, which is the company’s fastest-growing segment, will account for 75% of sales within two years.

The company also credits the wholesale channel with helping it grow year over year sales 550%.

Just how important is the wholesale customer experience?

Ask The Elephant Pants, a company that makes elephant-print harem apparel and donates ten percent of its profits to save elephants. The Elephant Pants gives its wholesale customers B2C-like treatment with features like an easy-to-find search bar, quick access to previous orders, an online catalog for browsing, and transparent pricing:

Integrating the wholesale channel has allowed the company to grow faster than anticipated. In fact, James Brooks, The Elephant Pants’ co-founder and Chief Financial Officer, says:

“Initially, some of our retail partners expressed resistance to an online wholesale portal.”

“For us, the move was about replacing our pieced-together method of phone calls and Quickbooks with something faster. For them, human guidance was still important. Really, we’re in it together with our sellers. We provide them with advice on purchasing and marketing, spec sheets, and POS displays.”

“Because supporting them was crucial, we brought on a great sales rep and merged the physical with the digital.”

“Today, we help 80-90% of our buyers create their orders through the wholesale channel. The terms are determined on a buyer-by-buyer basis. As a result, wholesale has doubled for us over the last two months on a per-week basis.”

James Brooks, CFO & Co-Founder at The Elephant Pants

We understand merchants like Laird and The Elephant Pants are busy. It's why we recently made the wholesale channel even easier and faster to use. Previously, price lists had to be created manually within the channel. But now - because so many of you asked -  merchants can now upload a CSV file with multiple price lists:

Wholesale ecommerce upload multiple-pricing lists

The ability to import wholesale price lists allows merchants to:

  • Have an external platform or ERP integration create price lists by formatting product and price information into a CSV and upload it into the channel
  • Allows for an unlimited amount of quantity breaks if you offer volume-based pricing
  • Faster pricing management for large catalogs

Separately, customers can now checkout instantly in the wholesale portal.

Customers on the wholesale storefront now have the ability to instantly checkout through a secure checkout (similar to the online store).

Previously, submitting a draft order was default. 

Three things to keep in mind with the wholesale checkout: 

  • The checkout option can be enabled and disabled per customer and through bulk action under the accounts tab 
  • If the customer does not have wholesale checkout enabled, they will default to submitting a draft order
  • The wholesale checkout is similar to the online checkout but not the same. Wholesale checkout is through the checkout API so Shopify Scripts will not work

Importantly, you can now also set wholesale specific shipping rates.

Merchants can setup separate wholesale shipping rates including free shipping, flat rate or same as online shipping rates. The rates can be applied to all wholesale checkout and draft orders. 

    Getting Started with Wholesale

    Wholesale customers are often some of the best a merchant can have; they generally buy in bulk, by default have higher average order values compared to your B2C customers, and promise repeat purchases you can rely on to generate recurring revenue.

    The custom price lists merchants can now create offer customers an intuitive buying process they’ve likely already become used to while shopping from home as a B2C consumer. Not only can the customer save time and track their own order in real time, but merchants save valuable time as well by automating much of the order processing and management process.

    Even better, your turnkey wholesale storefront uses your existing product data and integrations so you can manage your wholesale business from the same admin as your current B2C business.

    With this announcement, Shopify Plus is modernizing wholesale ecommerce and positioning merchants of all types to scale into a new market by offering the same compelling customer experiences they offer B2C customers.

    Won’t you come along with us?

    Wholesale ecommerce doesn’t have to be hard

    If you’re not on Shopify Plus, find out just how simple getting your piece of the $7.7 global B2B ecommerce market can be …


    Learn more about wholesale


    Already on Shopify Plus? Launch your wholesale channel today

    About the Author

    Anthony Kentris is a product marketing manager at Shopify Plus and entrepreneur himself with a few budding brands. Follow along with his product marketing and entrepreneurial journey on LinkedIn.

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