Shopify Plus Wholesale Is Open for Business
On March 9th, Shopify announced a new Wholesale Channel for its Shopify Plus customers, in a move to support the wholesale industry’s adaption to digital and to serve the company’s growing number of Shopify Plus merchants.
Command C has developed many Shopify Plus sites — and we’re not the only ones impressed with the platform’s out-of-the-box capabilities. In 2016, the number of Shopify Plus stores jumped from 1000 to 2500. During the same time, the 20 best performing stores increased sales by 130%. With numbers like these rolling in, Shopify is smart to continue to introduce attractive incentives for its Plus (and potentially Plus) crowd.
How does the Wholesale Channel work?
The short answer is: through pricing and customer lists. To set up a wholesale shop, you begin by creating separate pricing lists. Choose the list criteria that are right for your business. For instance, one price list could be for your top 10 highest volume buyers. Another could be for new customers from a recent event, such as a tradeshow.
Once you’ve created a price list, assign customers to the list. Go to the Customers admin page, search for the person’s name, and then give the customer a “tag,” i.e. “Top 10 Volume” or “2017 NY Gift Show.” If your customer is new, you’ll have to add him or her to your customer list manually, and then assign that person a tag.
After you tag your customers, invite them to your wholesale store via the in-platfrom email. The email is not customizable, but it’s a clean-looking note with a link to your wholesale store and the steps to create a username and password. (This can be done as a bulk action. You can broadcast the wholesale party invitation to a long list of potential buyers.)
Important note: your customers will need to create an account to join. Once they do so, they are ready to explore your wholesale merchandise at the prices you assigned for them.
When a wholesale customer places an order, it will appear as a draft order on the Drafts admin page of your Shopify Plus account.
Shopify Plus then offers three ways to update payment on the order: 1) Pay by credit card. Your customer pays then and there. 2) Mark as paid. Your customer already wrote you a check or you took payment elsewhere. 3) Payment pending. Use this one if you’re going net 30 or have some other arrangement in place.
Once you select a payment option, the wholesale order will move from the Drafts page to the Orders page. Congratulations, you just processed your first wholesale order!
We admit these steps are simplified, but the Wholesale Channel does address shipping fees, taxes, invoices, and more. (Here’s a link to Shopify’s full debrief.)
From the Command Center, here’s what we’re thinking: the Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel shows that Shopify is ready to remove even more barriers to buying online. They’ve streamlined a process that had been cobbled together with apps previously. Through our years of experience, we’ve learned that when we add less into the ecommerce chain, we have less friction. Fewer third parties = fewer potential disruptions. We love the sound of that, and we’re excited to explore more.
A couple of years ago, the B2B ecommerce platform, Handshake, conducted a study entitled, The Wholesale Technology and Sales Survey Report. They received responses from 410 decision makers in various wholesale industries, and across the board, the group named their biggest challenge to be order writing inefficiencies. Nearly 40% of the respondents said their representatives took new orders digitally, but 55% said they were still relying on a mix of paper, pens, PDFs, and Excel. The other six percent answered “Other” – stone tablet, perhaps?
With this in mind, we’re interested in how the Shopify Plus Wholesale Channel could pair with a point-of-sale app. It’s easy to imagine creating a wholesale account for a new customer while in conversation at a show. There are more questions to investigate here, but given the possibility to enter credit card payment through the Wholesale Channel, it seems like a great way to outfit an iPad. Have iPad, will sell.
Lastly, in reviewing the Wholesale Channel materials, we also noticed that the product does not allow for much customization. For example, wholesale storeowners cannot really tailor their store theme. In Shopify’s words, “Instead it has been optimized to make it easy for your wholesale buyers to quickly order the product and variants that they need.”
The wholesale market is about moving large amounts of inventory quickly. It’s not a market that wants to browse; wholesale buyers know what they want. With this in mind, Shopify Plus’ pared down approach offers an excellent new service — with no additional cost to current Plus stores.
Last summer, we read that the B2B industry is forecast to conduct 27% of its sales online by 2020. With the launch of their Wholesale Channel, Shopify Plus is giving their merchants access to this nascent market.
And we’re ready to help our clients take the early advantage.