How to Launch a Wholesale Channel With One Click & Tap Into a $7 Trillion Market

How to Launch a Wholesale Channel With One Click & Tap Into a $7 Trillion Market

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

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

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

It’s an all out sprint for sales, 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 multiples larger than B2C…

While global B2B ecommerce is expected to grow to $7.7 trillion by the close of 2017, online transactions are just a fraction of all B2B transactions- meaning there’s plenty of room for B2B ecommerce to grow further. One way to tap into and grow the number of B2B transactions made online is by launching a wholesale channel…

But following the wholesale status quo- with sales associates taking wholesale 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 ecommerce buyers expect B2C treatment in the form of a trusted self-serve wholesale portal that offers full visibility of the status of their orders.

It’s why Shopify Plus has built a Wholesale Channel that positions merchants to use their existing stores to easily and with one click offer a branded, password-protected, self-service storefront that high-volume buyers can access and order from wherever and whenever they wish.

Instead of relying on spreadsheets, handmade draft orders, or cloned stores the wholesale channel positions merchants to expand their market, sell to customers who want to buy in bulk, and increase lifetime customer value by:

  • Creating a separate, password protected storefront that offers customer specific discounts, product assortment, and terms
  • Creating unique and custom product pricing tiers and catalogs for each customer
  • Invite and manage wholesale customer accounts in bulk
  • Approving orders before they are processed which allows merchants to review inventory levels, payment details and confirm quantities
  • Sending automated notifications to customers alerting them of changes or updates to their order via a central customer order history page
  • Reviewing and invoicing orders for payment by credit card or take payment and handle terms offline

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.

It’s why we built the Wholesale Channel to sync with your current store and automate much of the work involved.

In fact, 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. Importantly, by using the Draft Order API, wholesale orders surface right alongside retail 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.

Multi-channel made simple

Shopify Plus offers 16 native sales channels across social, Amazon, retail, wholesale, and more …

All without plugins or custom development.

Connect with an ecommerce expert today

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?

Just ask The Elephant Pants, a company that makes elephant print harem pants and apparel and donates ten percent of its profits to save elephants. Importantly, 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.”

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?

Launch your wholesale channel today and be sure to get your piece of the $7 trillion global B2B ecommerce market.

About the Author

Nick Winkler is a contributor to the Shopify Plus blog and founder of The Winkler Group, a strategic communications firm that provides content marketing services to the world's best-known brands, businesses, and marketers. Get more from Nick here.