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How To Become a Wholesaler on Shopify

4 minutes read

If you want to learn how to become a wholesaler on Shopify, the good news is that it’s relatively simple. With a few supplementary tools, the retail-focused platform can become a completely viable business-to-business storefront.

This article will take you through the process of setting up a wholesale website on Shopify from beginning to end, but the key point is that you need a way to offer bulk discounts.

1. Find a Wholesale Product

One common first step in becoming a wholesaler is choosing your merchandise. In some cases, this choice is going to be related to a central part of your operation. In others, it’s more of a means to an end. In other words, depending on your situation, you’ll have two main choices: sell what you have or find something to sell.

Learning how to become a wholesaler starts with finding a product you can sell in bulk.

2. Choose a Business Model

There are several general categories of wholesale operations:

Manufacturers

Manufacturers often sell items they produce wholesale to entities such as distributors, resellers, community organizations, and other manufacturers. In some types of operations, such as in value-added manufacturing or assembly, you might also want to buy from other wholesale businesses.

Distributors

If you’re a distributor, you typically buy from manufacturers and resell to other businesses. Distributors in a well-established and technical industry, such as automotive, will probably be part of a network that sells to trade shops, specialty retail companies, manufacturers, and the general public.

You may also set up contracts with upstream companies (producers) and play the key supply-chain role of guaranteeing a reliable source of goods.

Other Resellers

There are many other types of wholesale business, and, in most, you would focus on simply buying merchandise and either consolidating or dividing it for sale to other businesses or individuals. You might choose a retail-wholesale hybrid approach, or you might sell exclusively to other businesses. Examples include import/export, warehouse liquidation, or mixed-lot purchasing.

3. Learn Your Selling Platform

If you’re selling wholesale online on Shopify, you’ve already chosen a storefront platform. After you choose the correct service tier, you will also have to understand the toolset.

Before moving to the next step, take the time to really dive into Shopify’s capabilities. Do not make assumptions about what you can and cannot do — as a wholesaler, you’re likely to run into some surprises. For example, you will probably need an app to efficiently apply bulk discount strategies across multiple inventory items.

Learning your selling platform will also help during the steps that follow. Pay attention to the following details:

  • What type of media (photos, videos, or text) you can put on product pages
  • How the buying process works for your customers
  • How customers will navigate through your catalog
  • The way the product information appears on different devices
  • How to add new products and change old ones, and how to apply changes to multiple products at one time

A good place to start is the official website. There are tons of great free learning resources available directly from Shopify.

4. Document Your Merchandise

Now that you know what media Shopify supports and how to add it to product descriptions, you can move on to documenting what you intend to sell. Think about what your customers want to know, and create descriptions, photos, and so on. This content should fit with Shopify’s system, provide accurate information, and make your merchandise attractive to buyers.

5. Create Your Catalog

The next step in selling wholesale is creating a catalog that can communicate your inventory to clients. The two main tasks are to set up your products and to organize them.

You probably want to start with the most essential information and a basic category structure at first. Think of what your clients absolutely need to know, such as dimensions, colors, and materials, and list that.

Even if you don’t complete every listing to perfection, you still have all of the information on hand. Make sure your potential customers know, via explicit text, graphics, or interactive elements within your Shopify store, that they can contact you if they have specific questions.

6. Set Up Wholesale Pricing

A smart pricing strategy is at the core of the business-to-business mercantile model; it’s all about the bottom line. Working out your unique pricing method is a large part of how to become a wholesaler.

The most common strategy is to offer larger discounts on larger orders. That is, the more units that a customer buys at once, the less each unit costs individually.

You offer these discounts as a wholesaler because you’re passing your own savings on to the buyer. You do less handling, you store items for shorter periods of time, and you have less risk (from theft, damage, spoilage, or obsolescence, for example) when customers make larger purchases.

On Shopify, specifically, you’ll want to download a bulk discount app to make it easy to enact and modify your wholesale pricing strategy. Only the international enterprise service tier has acceptable built-in tools for this type of business process.

7. Test the Shopping Experience

Selling wholesale online is best when you've tested the process out yourself.

Shopify allows you to run test orders, and you should definitely take advantage of this function. In combination with running through your site on multiple devices, this gives you a good idea of how your customers will interact with your company.

Try to imagine that you had your clients’ level of understanding and knowledge of your business and your merchandise. Does your store tell them everything they need to know? Does it make it easy for them to buy?

On the back end, how much work do you have to do for each order? Have you automated everything you can?

You’ll be asking these questions for the entire lifespan of your business. You’ll also be using the answers to optimize your sales and stay competitive.

How To Become a Wholesaler on Shopify

At the most basic level, offering bulk discounts is how to sell wholesale online successfully on Shopify. Download our app today to quickly add wholesale capability to any of your existing or new Shopify storefronts.

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