Understanding Shopify: Wholesale

Mar 22nd, 2019

Shopify Plus offers a separate wholesale channel that exists alongside your online store in the Shopify admin. The benefit of this is that you can manage both stores from the same admin and using the same catalog. This can be a huge advantage over the alternative, which is syncing data between the B2C and B2B stores. Having separate sites usually means managing your inventory from an ERP such as NetSuite or Stitch Labs which gets expensive and complicated.

The Shopify wholesale channel may not work for everyone. In this article we'll go through some features you can expect to see and then follow up with the alternatives.

Theme

The first thing you might notice about the Shopify wholesale channel is that it currently does not offer much customization. There is only the default theme, with no ability to install a new theme or add custom styling. It does offer 3 options for customization:

  • You can add your logo, with suggested dimensions of 450 x 200 pixels.
  • You can change the accent color which is used for links, buttons, and other areas that need to draw the user’s attention.
  • If you require customers to log in before entering the store, you can add a background image to the login page.

Custom Pricing

The biggest reason for using the wholesale channel is its custom pricing ability. You can add percentage discounts, volume pricing, or import a price list to easily customize the price of each product. Pricing can also be set to be specific to a single customer or a group of customers. This is done by adding a tag to customers that is attached to the custom pricing rule.

Private Storefront

As mentioned above, you can require anyone going to the wholesale store to log in before entering the store. Wholesale customers can use the same login they would use for the consumer site, but they must be tagged with a tag that is assigned to a price list. For example, if I create a price list called “VIP Pricing” and attach the tag “VIP” to it, any customers with the tag “VIP” would then be able to log into the wholesale store.

Preferences

There are a few wholesale specific settings worth going over.

  • You can set a custom domain for your wholesale store.
  • You can set a minimum purchase price for orders.
  • You can choose whether you want to show the retail pricing next to the wholesale pricing.
  • Last, but most importantly, you can set wholesale specific shipping methods. You can keep them the same as your online store, offer free shipping, or charge a flat rate.

As of writing this article, that is what you get with the wholesale channel for Shopify Plus in a nutshell. Should you sign up for it though? That depends.

Is It Worth It?

By going with the Shopify Plus version, you’re mainly benefiting from two things. Because you can’t customize it, and Shopify basically has it locked down, you’re not going to have to spend much time maintaining it. Things aren’t going to break because of changes you’ve made, or an app you’ve installed. The second benefit is that Shopify has the ability to integrate within its platform to a higher degree than any wholesale app will be able to. Because of the nature of Shopify app development, there is a lot of “working around” the resources Shopify gives you.

On the other hand, if you need to be able to customize your shop, or you’re not willing to shell out the hefty fee for Shopify Plus, there are a variety of solutions available on the Shopify app marketplace that can do the job.

There is Wholesale Club which was recently added to the Pixel Union app portfolio. This works similarly to the Shopify Plus integration where you tag customers with associated price rules.

Bold Commerce has their Custom Pricing app which is for wholesale stores. It works similarly to the Wholesale Club app.

Both offer free trials, but do require modifying your theme files which means you will need to know how to remove the changes if you decide to uninstall.