Are you a Shopify merchant looking to sell to wholesale accounts? While Shopify’s standard plans don’t include a built-in wholesale solution, there are various options available. As a Shopify developer, we have experience building custom wholesale solutions for clients, but we also appreciate the simplicity and ease of using apps within the Shopify ecosystem. This post, originally written in 2015, has been updated to reflect the latest developments and provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to set up wholesale accounts on Shopify. Read on to discover the different ways you can sell to wholesale accounts using Shopify.
1. Sell on Handshake
Shopify has a wholesale marketplace called Handshake that’s worth looking into. It is similar to other wholesale marketplaces, such as Faire.
- No fees or commissions
- Easy to set up
- You must apply to sell on Handshake, not everyone is accepted
- Many sellers report little or no sales
2. Set up discount codes
This is a simple way to get set up, but is not usually full-featured enough for people with more than a few wholesale accounts. This can be a simple solution for the very beginner with only a handful of wholesale accounts, but this quickly becomes unsustainable.
- This is very simple and easy to do.
- You can set a minimum order amount OR (not “and”) restrict discounts to a customer group OR restrict discounts to certain collections of products.
- You can mark certain customer accounts as being tax-free.
- It’s upgrade-proof! Using discount codes for your wholesalers is never going to break your site.
- If/when Shopify launches its own wholesale solution, nothing on your site will need to be “un-done” to take advantage of the new features.
- You can’t have separate payment terms or shipping options for wholesalers, because it’s really your retail shop they’re using.
- If you want to set a flat rate discount ($15 off, for example, you can do it per collection, but not per item).
- You can’t set more than one restriction (as in #2 in the Pros list) on a coupon code.
- You can’t prevent people from sharing the coupon code unless you restrict by customer group.
Note that your inventory will be tracked the same for both retail and wholesale orders. This may or may not work for you.
3. Use a wholesale app
Another option is to offer wholesale on your retail site for users who are logged in as wholesale customers. If you’re flexible about changing your methods in the future, try an app! There are lots of apps to help with this; the three that we use most often are:
- Locksmith – to hide wholesale products from everyone except customers logged in with a wholesale account. pros: simple, can be used for protecting other content like freebies for newsletter subscribers, inexpensive app. Cons: not specifically for wholesale, requires duplicating your products
- Wholesale Club – a more robust suite of wholesale features such as wholesale discounts, customer tiers, and “net” payment options. doesn’t require duplicating products to have different pricing tiers.
- Bold Custom Pricing – If you need a bit more oomph, this app is pretty full-featured and very well-reviewed.
4. Open another store
This is not as complicated as it sounds, and it’s a method we recommend to many of our clients. If your retail store, for example, is at www.mystore.com, your wholesale store could simply be at wholesale.mystore.com (or anything else you’d like to call the subdomain). Copy your existing shop over to a new one, password-protect it, and then customize it to be the exact shopping experience your wholesale customers want.
- You can password-protect it, so it’s only accessible to your wholesalers.
- You can get all the pricing exactly as you want.
- Payment terms (NET-30), tax exemption, and shipping options can be tailored to your wholesalers.
- You can include only certain products and have unique wholesale pricing per product.
- You can create a unique wholesale experience, such as a single-page simple order form to add products to the cart.
- You now have two shops to manage.
You will need an app if you want to enforce a minimum order amount or to code (or hire someone to code) a minimum on the cart page.
One thing that is not a pro or a con is that your inventory would be separate from your retail store. This could be a good thing, as you don’t want to run out of stock for wholesalers, and you may want to order or create more product based on their orders. If you do need inventory to sync between your two shops, there are store sync apps to manage this.
5. Install the wholesale channel
This is for merchants on the Shopify Plus plan. If your business is headed in the “enterprise” level, Shopify Plus may be for you. Here is info about the Shopify Plus wholesale channel.
6. Work on a custom wholesale site with Aeolidia
We evaluate each of our client’s needs and decide if any of the above options will be a good solution for them, or if something custom should be built. We like to err on the side of caution with all customizations. One of the best things about using Shopify is being able to rely on your site to continue working as expected and relaxing while Shopify upgrades your store behind the scenes.
Interested in giving this a try yourself?
Let me know if you’d like our help with wholesale accounts on Shopify! It would be great to be able to offer your clients a smooth purchasing experience on your professional-looking site. If you have any questions or comments about selling wholesale on Shopify, add them to the comments below!
Newsletter Sign Up
We write a new email each week to help you grow your business.
Let's take your online shop to the next level
The Shopify websites we design have a reputation for substantial improvements to ecommerce conversion rates and online sales. Let's talk!