Is Shopify good for B2B businesses?
October 28, 2021
Every business wants to find ways to make day-to-day operations as seamless as possible. B2B ecommerce provides a fast and simple way to acquire stock, usually via an online portal.
Wholesaling has undergone somewhat of a revolution over recent years thanks to platforms such as Amazon, Wish and Alibaba. Whilst wholesaling has previously been thought of as an old-fashioned way to shop which requires orders to be taken manually, it’s become a lot more appealing thanks to the rise of user-friendly, self-servicing online platforms.
One of these platforms is Shopify. But many people don’t actually know that Shopify has B2B functionality. If you’re a B2B business looking to replatform, and had previously ruled the ecommerce giant out, read on to discover whether Shopify is good for B2B businesses.
Is Shopify suitable for B2B?
First things first – it’s important to note that wholesale and B2B features are only available with Shopify Plus, the platform’s most advanced plan. We’ve previously delved into the Shopify vs Shopify Plus debate, so be sure to check that post out if you are unfamiliar with the differences between the two.
If your business requires a more advanced platform that can handle approx 10,000 transactions per minute, larger product catalogue etc., then yes, Shopify is absolutely suitable for B2B. If your B2B ecommerce business is on the smaller side or in its infancy, then Shopify isn’t going to be the platform for you right now (though may be worth looking into further down the line).
How to sell wholesale on Shopify
Just as you can create products to sell to regular customers, you can also create products to sell to other businesses in Shopify. The first difference is that you have two options on how to do this. The Handshake Marketplace or a separate, password-protected storefront.
The Handshake Marketplace is a wholesale marketplace that connects approved Shopify merchants that sell wholesale with retailers.
If you opt for this choice, then you’ll need to apply to sell on the Handshake Marketplace. Once approved, you’ll be able to install the Handshake sales channel to your Shopify dashboard, from which you can list your wholesale business and products on the marketplace.
Separate, password-protected storefront
If you’d prefer merchants to have to enter a password to use your wholesale store, then you can create a password-protected storefront as an extension of your existing online store. This allows you to offer custom pricing and process wholesale orders within your existing Shopify admin. There are apps such as Locksmith which offer more advanced, customisable features, such as allowing customers to set up their own passwords rather than sharing one generic password.
If you sell both B2B and B2C, we’d recommend opting for the second option to ensure your wholesale store doesn’t disrupt your B2B store.
Wholesale Shopify apps
Another way to set up a wholesale store within your existing Shopify account is by installing a wholesale app like Wholesale Club. This app allows you to sort customers into tiers, which can then be assigned a specific discount. You will need to have an approved retailer account to use Wholesale Club.
Shopify B2B features
Shopify’s B2B solution offers some really handy features to help ensure your store is user friendly and profitable.
Minimum purchase spend
The point of wholesale buying and selling is to purchase larger quantities of stock, as businesses require this to meet customer demand. Shopify’s B2B platform allows you to set minimum spends, meaning if an order does not hit a certain item threshold, the user will not be able to checkout. This helps to ensure your B2B business remains profitable and every sale is worth your while. It also prevents customers from using your B2B store for personal shopping – cost per item is generally up to 50% lower than regular retail price, so the feature is very important.
Minimum purchase fee
The purpose of the minimum purchase fee is pretty much the same as minimum purchase spend. Instead of stopping someone from checking out altogether, you can opt to add a minimum purchase fee to their order. The customer will be alerted that the fee will be added and how much it is when they hit the checkout button, and it will show in their shopping cart alongside selected products.
Volume based discounts
Volume based discounts offer larger savings the more a customer buys. Retailers buying wholesale want to make the biggest profit possible and keep margins healthy, so volume based discounts are a smart way to sell more and keep your wholesale customers coming back.
Building a pool of regular customers is the goal with any retail business, but many wholesalers rely on regular custom, and buyers often don’t want to keep switching suppliers either. Shopify’s personalisation features help you deliver top-class customer service by offering personalised products, pricing and payments.
Create all of the important pages any ecommerce website needs, such as FAQs and policies, using a basic template provided by Shopify.
Why sell wholesale?
Many ecommerce businesses opt to sell wholesale after recognising the advantages it can offer over traditional B2C retail. The majority of brands will spend a large amount of money on marketing. When you sell B2B, the buyer has the responsibility of marketing the products and acquiring customers, freeing up your own time and money.
You also don’t have the task of building a loyal audience. Partnering with a successful retailer means they have already done the legwork in this area, and you can leverage this to sell your products.
Whilst many retailers have and still continue to ship their stock from China due to lower costs, increased attention on the environmental and ethical impact of purchasing overseas has many people looking for more ethical ways to shop. Plus, it’s no secret that the pandemic has led to some pretty severe supply chain issues (PlayStation 5, anyone?), meaning now could be the time to set up a wholesale store closer to home.
Whether you’re a B2C, B2B retailer or both, it’s clear that the Shopify platform has something to offer just about every ecommerce business, making life easier with innovative features and a simple interface.
Thinking of making the move to Shopify Plus? Get in touch and we’d be more than happy to discuss your project.