Supporting millions of merchants from around 175 countries and processing over $500 billion in sales since its start in 2006, Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform today.
And with some newer features that cater specifically to the B2B crowd, there’s never been a better time for expanding DTC brands to take advantage of all that Shopify offers.
If you already have a Shopify store for your DTC brand and are interested in getting into the wholesale space, this guide is for you.
Keep reading to learn:
From the perspective of a mid-market ecommerce brand, selling wholesale or “wholesaling” is essentially the practice of selling your products to a retailer.
So instead of marketing, selling, and shipping your products one at a time to individual buyers as you would with a DTC model, with wholesale you’re filling bulk orders to retail companies, typically at a discount.
The retail companies that buy wholesale from you then mark up and sell your products to individual consumers.
While we’ll get much deeper into the benefits of this model later in this article, the main draw of adding a wholesale channel to your business is reducing overhead costs without necessarily reducing the number of units sold.
Of course, there is more than one way to go wholesale. For example, some wholesale sellers don’t produce their own products, instead purchasing them bulk from manufacturers, liquidators, and other sources. There are many ways this process can look, so there is likely a way for you to make wholesale work for your brand if you want it to.
With your direct-to-consumer business model, you’re used to selling your products straight to customers via your Shopify store, website, marketplaces like Etsy or Amazon, and maybe even in person.
But if you’ve been looking to expand your reach even further, now is a great time to consider Shopify wholesale.
Because some of Shopify’s newest B2B features are especially beneficial for wholesalers, such as:
Come along as we walk you through expanding into wholesale without ever having to leave Shopify.
If you aren’t already selling direct-to-consumer on Shopify, this Intro to Shopify from the platform itself will help you get your store up and running.
However, we’re going to move forward assuming you have a Shopify store set up, where you’re already selling the goods you produce directly to consumers.
So, let’s kick things off with the most important step: figuring out which of Shopify’s various wholesaling options best fits your brand and audience.
Who it’s for: If you already have a really robust store and are still testing the waters when it comes to wholesale, a blended store may be the best place to start. This option is for brands that don’t intend to offer drastically different pricing or navigation features for different buyer types (yet), and don’t mind that their shopper data is mostly intertwined. You also have to be willing to spring for the $2,000 per month for Shopify Plus.
Getting started: Add a password-protected B2B customer portal to your Shopify store to create what they call a “blended store.”
To turn your current DTC store into a blended store, you’ll have to subscribe to a Shopify Plus plan, with pricing starting at $2K per month.
With Shopify Plus, you’ll have access to Shopify’s B2B features. The most pertinent of those features for this use case is the robust company profiles. With Shopify Plus, companies can have multiple locations, customer groups, custom pricing lists, payment terms, wholesale discounts (volume-based, percentage-based, etc.), and more — all of which are especially helpful when you’re selling to wholesale shoppers.
A blended store accepts both DTC and wholesale orders. Basically, it’s your existing store with the addition of a new portal which wholesale buyers log into. Once there, they can access their unique wholesale price lists, payment terms, discounts, and whatever else you’ve set up for them.
Keep in mind that changes you make to your blended store will apply to the entire store. So, any discount codes and shipping rates you activate, navigation changes you make, and notifications and inventory alerts you send will apply to all customers.
The data you collect about your shoppers will also be heavily blended with this option.
Get the details on how to set up wholesale customers from Shopify here.
Who it’s for: Dedicated stores are best for sellers who are actively growing their wholesale channel and find themselves needing more detailed reports and customizations for these customers. Because it’s a new storefront, management will require more time — so be sure you’re ready to resource appropriately. As with the blended store, you also have to be willing to spring for the $2,000 per month for Shopify Plus to access all of Shopify’s B2B features.
Getting started: On Shopify, a dedicated store is a new store that Shopify considers an “expansion” of your existing DTC store. You set it up so that it’s only accessible to your wholesale buyers via login.
To take advantage of all the B2B features dedicated stores offer, sellers will need a Shopify Plus membership.
Because the only shoppers within your dedicated store will be your wholesale customers, any changes you make and messaging you use here will only impact them. This makes it a little simpler to do things like:
A dedicated store is technically a new Shopify store, so integrations and settings will need to be set up all over again — and managed separately going forward.
Check out Shopify’s B2B page for even more details about Shopify B2B, blended stores, and dedicated stores.
Who it’s for: Shopify wholesale channel stores are highly secure, professional, and have little crossover with the Shopify stores most DTC sellers are used to. This direction is advised if you have a strong base of wholesale customers and you’re ready to go all-in on your wholesale channel. As with the above options, it’s only available if you’re signed up for Shopify Plus.
Getting started: With a Shopify Plus plan, you can add the wholesale channel to your Shopify admin.
Here’s a quick rundown of what that looks like:
1. Sign into your Shopify admin
2. Visit Settings
3. Click “Shopify App Store”
4. On the next page, search “Wholesale”
5. Select “Add channel”
Once you take this step, a brand new, separate, and password-protected store is generated.
Customers have to be invited to access this wholesale store, and once logged in they can only interact with products in price lists to which they’ve been assigned.
Order processing is a little more manual here. Customers create purchase orders instead of just making purchases. You have to go in and manually send an invoice as well as mark it paid.
Shopify wholesale channel stores don’t integrate with external systems whatsoever, and items in these stores don’t appear in online searches.
Learn more about getting started with a wholesale store.
Who it’s for: Similar to Shopify’s blended store approach, Handshake is a good fit for DTC sellers who aren’t yet or don’t intend to be fully invested in wholesaling. As a marketplace that helps sellers get in front of retail buyers, Handshake is a good way to see how your products do wholesale without spending a lot of time setting up a new store. No Shopify Plus subscription required.
Getting started: Handshake is Shopify’s U.S.-based digital wholesale marketplace, and it’s free of fees or commissions.
Yes it’s a platform where you can purchase and sell wholesale products instead of making them yourself, but it’s also a place to connect with retail customers who want to make wholesale purchases from you. In this way Handshake is Shopify’s competitor to online marketplaces like Faire.
Brands must apply to sell on Handshake. Here’s a short and sweet version of that workflow:
This resource from Shopify will tell you everything you need and how to apply for Handshake.
Who it’s for: This alternative works for brands that are just starting their wholesale expansion and find Shopify Plus too expensive. If you already have a great store built and would like to pick and choose the best wholesale features that align with your needs and with your budget, you may love the wholesale apps solution.
Getting started: In the not-too-distant past, all the B2B sales features we’ve mentioned here didn’t exist on Shopify.
That’s why there’s a whole category of Shopify wholesale apps, which provide a plethora of features for wholesalers — sometimes for a lower price than a Shopify Plus subscription.
Search “wholesale” on the Shopify app store for a look at all the tools you can integrate into your DTC store to serve a brand new audience.
We already created our own in-depth list of Shopify wholesale apps for leveling up your store.
But, we’ll also give you brief overview here of many of the apps we recommend:
Speaking of integrations, there’s another pivotal tool sellers need in order to launch a successful wholesale channel: A payment platform that puts money in your pocket faster.
Streamlined is the intelligent B2B payment solution that syncs seamlessly with your Shopify store.
Streamlined steps in to provide one of the most important factors in brand expansion — flexible, easy-to-use B2B payment options.
Streamlined is engineered to get you paid faster and easier, whichever Shopify wholesale option you’re using — whether through Shopify Plus or your main Shopify store. That’s why some of the leading brands on Shopify turn to Streamlined for their wholesale payments.
The thing is, Shopify’s solution for wholesale sellers is only to offer manual payment options, which take some transactions off-platform. And this solution does nothing to help merchants manage the payments that take place outside of Shopify.
Streamlined cuts down on the manual work for your team, giving you more time to spend building your B2B wholesale channel. And brands on Streamlined get paid up to 3x faster.
Here’s how to get started with Streamlined in 2022.
2. Take a few minutes to enter some core business details, such as:
3. Once you’ve created your Streamlined account, head to Settings > Connections and paste in your Shopify store URL to start managing all transactions, including those from Shopify, directly from your Streamlined dashboard.
Once you’re approved for Streamlined, you can also integrate the Streamlined Shopify app into your store. Here’s how to use it to automate invoicing:
We help you handle payments made via check, ACH, wire, and credit card by automatically issuing customized invoices, staying on top of late payments, reconciling invoices, and tracking credits.
And, Streamlined’s statement of account and bulk payment capabilities make it easy for your B2B customers to stay on top of payments.
View important store stats like aging balance, average payment period, and monthly sales and payments right from your Streamlined home page.
With Streamlined, teams can stay lean and store owners can stay laser-focused on growing their B2B wholesale channels.
With your wholesale channel fleshed out and your Streamlined payment platform set up, it’s finally about time to put your Shopify store out into the universe.
But first, a test.
Before removing the password that lies between your store and your wholesale customers, Shopify recommends placing a faux order to make sure everything is functioning properly, including:
Shopify’s guide to preparing for launch will show you how to make a test order, remove your password protection, and launch your store.
After an understandable dip in 2020, the U.S. wholesale market is worth more than ever — topping out at more than $11 trillion in 2022.
And, it’s expected to just keep growing.
Here are some of the most powerful business benefits motivating so many sellers to go wholesale.
Longing to bust into new markets?
Wholesaling might be a way to do just that.
Not every customer who’s right for your product is shopping online, and sometimes people just have to see and feel a product to know it’s right for them.
And as long as your products are branded, the retailers to whom you sell your wares have the potential to spread your brand all over the world.
Expanding your audience via your retailer partnerships is just one way to cut marketing costs without cutting down on effectiveness.
Another way that wholesale selling can reduce your marketing expenses is by decreasing the pool of folks whom you need to reach with your campaigns.
Marketing to every single consumer you want to convert is expensive and time-consuming. But when you focus on retailers, you still have the potential to make big sales without having to reach so many eyeballs.
You know all about the operational expenses that come with DTC sales — handling, shipping, packing, and more.
All these costs associated with every one-off consumer order add up in a big way, chipping away at your overall margins.
With a wholesale business model, many of these costs are reduced because you’re selling and shipping a lot more product all at once. Thus, giving your profit margin room to expand.
It’s never a bad idea to find new revenue streams, especially in today’s volatile economy.
Because if one revenue source is threatened (perhaps your website goes on the fritz) or just slows down for a time (perhaps due to seasonal or economic shifts), you have other income to help you ride out the storm.
Being diversified is not just a source of protection, but a source of growth.
Having a safety net made of multiple income streams can give you the confidence and support you need to pursue growth opportunities outside of your typical comfort zone.
For DTC brands, wholesale is a natural opportunity to diversify revenue streams.
Wholesale selling was something that seemed a lot less approachable even just a decade ago.
But today, there are some amazing digital platforms on the scene that are making expansion absolutely achievable, even for SMBs.
One is Shopify, with its features specifically for B2B sellers.
And another is Streamlined, which our small, dedicated team built specifically to help B2B wholesalers get paid faster and better.
Get paid easily, focus on your products, and create a monster wholesale channel with Streamlined.