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3 ways to handle wholesale using Shopify

Growth Secrets|24.10.2016

How do you create a Shopify e-commerce store, suitable for wholesale and retail distribution? Here are three easy ways to set your store up to trade with retailers and stockists.

Firstly, should you sell wholesale? Distributing products via wholesale can be a great way to grow your business. By giving retailers the opportunity to buy your products at trade price, sets your products en route to a whole new group of potential customers. There are additional concerns such as building relationships with stockists and keeping your inventory up to date, however, visibility at a high street department store will give your brand a boost and create new fans. There are 3 different ways you can successfully operate a wholesale Shopify store:

1. SPLIT UP YOUR STORES

This option is an easy one, why only have one store when you can have two!  While it may take a little extra time and cost to set up a completely separate store, you can avoid confusion from your regular day-to-day customers and keep a separate landing page for your wholesale customer base. This also protects any discounts or bulk buying incentives exclusively for the retailers you approve.

If consumers accidentally find your wholesale shop, they can be easy directed back to base. Firstly, your wholesale store should always present a password and login option. The tableware design store, Teroforma, utilises this well.  

Using a redirect means your consumer store is not losing any valuable traffic. If a prospective first-time customer lands on the wholesale store, they are offered the option of a redirect which simplifies the process for both consumers and retailers.

There are a few caveats with this method. It does mean managing your inventory across two stores and there will be two sets of financial reports to consolidate. Wholesale can offer you an additional revenue stream, however, do you have the time to manage 2 websites?

2. UTILISE DISCOUNT CODES

Technically speaking, buying at trade price is setting up a long-term discount for certain returning customers, so it makes perfect sense to use a discount code. The same way you would create an end of season sale code, set up specific discounts for individual retailers. Shopify recently added a feature that allows you to mark certain customer accounts as being tax-free, which lends itself well to the wholesale model.

Whilst this is easy to create (you can find a guide on how to set up discount codes here) you can’t stop your customers sharing or leaking the codes, so construct a wholesale agreement and keep a close eye on quantity purchased versus levels of discount.

Using discount codes means you can track your retail and wholesale customers through one store, making managing inventory easier in comparison to separate stores. You do run the risk of leaked codes and the basic discount scheme allows discounts only in currency, rather than a percentage, however, it is a quick fix and requires no extra investment or time.

3. WHOLESALE AND THIRD PARTY APPS

There are a number of apps in the Shopify App store that will streamline setting up your wholesale store. Wholesale Hero, Wholesaler and Wholesale Pricing by Supple allows you to control what discounts to offer to what customer, using regular customer accounts.  Once you have approved a customer as wholesale, they then have access to all the benefits being a stockist allows.

An unobtrusive tab at the top of your store will direct all bulk buyers to the correct area, without putting off your regular clientele.  You can take a look at Pomp & Co Grooming website for inspiration.

Shopify recommends Locksmith by Isaac Bowen, the ease of using the app is as such: “You can lock any page, product, collection, or blog, or your cart, or your whole shop at once”. This functionality will allow you to hide pages & prices allowing you to keep your wholesale and retail business separate, whilst only operating one store.

When managing your customers and wholesale business using an app, you have the ability to restrict certain customers from certain areas of your online store. Marking a customer account as a wholesale consumer will allow them into the password protected area of your website.

Is wholesale right for my business? 

Now that you have seen that wholesale is possible, either from a separate store, discounts or an app, it is over to you to decide if this is a valuable use of your time. Whilst there are several considerations, inventory, budget and investment, wholesale shipping can be a great way to access potential new customers, grow business relationships, and most importantly, increase your bottom line.

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