• Shopify Wholesale Alternatives

If you make or manufacturer your own products you know how important your wholesale clients are to your business.  B2B e-commerce requires a completely different process than a typical B2C transaction, and unfortunately many shopping carts just don’t handle this well, including Shopify wholesale.

How Shopify Wholesale Works

Shopify is a fantastic platform for e-commerce, especially if you are just starting out.  However, if you plan on selling B2B and need wholesale functionality down the road, you will quickly run into a number of roadblocks.  Those of you who have already attempted to deal with Shopify wholesale will be quite familiar with the process.

The Shopify wholesale solution is to open a wholesale channel for each of your wholesale customers.  They can then log in and see specific pricing and even products, and then submit a draft order.   There are numerous flaws with this system:

  • Shopify wholesale requires a Shopify Plus account, which at the time of this writing is $2000 PER MONTH.  That is just insanity.
  • Each wholesale customer needs their own channel and price list and you have to send an invite to each customer.  This gets cumbersome very quickly.
  • There is no option to offer Freight or LTL shipping options for wholesale orders, which is often necessary due to the large size of the orders.  All wholesale orders have a ‘default’ shipping method that isn’t real-time.
  • There is no way to set up wholesale-only payment methods such as Net 30, COD or exclude methods like PayPal from wholesale.  All wholesale orders are ‘draft’ orders and payment needs to be handled separately.
  • The whole order process is extremely time-consuming for both you and your customer.  Your wholesale customer has to submit the order which shows up as a ‘draft’ in your store.  You then have to reserve the inventory, set a shipping amount (again, no option for the user to select anything other than a ‘default’ wholesale price) and invoice them.  The customer acknowledges the invoice, and then you have to figure out how to get paid for the invoice as there are no real-time payment methods.
  • If you intend to offer wholesale-only products, your potential customers will never find them on a search engine as they are password-protected.

So yes, technically Shopify wholesale exists, but to say it is cumbersome and expensive is an understatement.  There are some third-party apps available to help with the pricing aspect, but there are no decent workarounds to the core system.  If you are thinking you can hire a programmer to fix it, that won’t work either.  Due to the nature of SaaS shopping carts, getting into the checkout code to make modifications is almost impossible.  But there is a better way!

Pinnacle Cart is built for B2B AND B2C

Pinnacle Cart is an open-source shopping cart, which means we can do whatever we want with it.  So far, we have built over 100 stores for customers who sell B2B, and we have developed quite an array of B2B functionality.  There is no need for a second store or for your customers to jump through hoops, the process is as easy for wholesale as it is for retail.

Membership Levels

The core feature of Pinnacle Cart that drives the wholesale functionality is the ability to set up unlimited ‘Membership Levels’ in your store.  Each of these levels can alter the appearance and functionality of the store once a user is logged in.  There are many options available so that you can tailor the experience for each of your customer types:

  1. Products – you can set a different price for each membership level, or even make certain products available or unavailable to each membership level.  This works great for stores that offer ‘back bar’ sizes or case packs.  You can even set products to be visible but the add to cart button will be hidden until a user logs in.  This allows the product to be found by the search engines, but still restricted.  This is great if you offer B2B only and no retail, or if certain products are restricted.
  2. Pages – you likely have different Terms and Conditions for wholesale vs retail, so each customer type will only see the pages appropriate to their membership level. This can also be used to offer wholesale-only pages like downloadable manuals and spec sheets, shelf talkers, signage, etc.
  3. Shipping Methods – many of our clients prefer to use certain carriers for wholesale and others for retail.  You can also offer LTL and Freight methods to wholesale customers who tend to order large shipments.  Mixing those types of shipping methods in for retail customers will just confuse them.  We can even set up systems that allow wholesale customers to enter their own shipping account numbers to charge.
  4. Payment Methods – wholesale customers often need specific payment methods like Net 30 or Purchase Orders that you don’t want to be available to your retail customers.  We can even set up certain methods to appear only after a customer has ordered a certain volume, which is handy for rewarding repeat customers.
  5. Promo Codes – the last thing you want is a wholesale order who already gets 50% off to apply a 10% off coupon they found on the web!
  6. Minimum Order Amount – a typical setup here sets a low initial order minimum, with a higher minimum thereafter.  The cart will give the user a countdown that tells them how much more they need to spend to be able to order
  7. Tax – you can set membership levels to be tax-free or even provide the ability to upload a tax exemption certificate at checkout

We can even alter the appearance of the store per membership level (banners, graphics, colors, etc) if you really want to give each membership a unique experience.

Account Creation

The account creation process for wholesale customers is as simple as it is for retail.  First, your potential wholesale customer can click on a page that explains how your wholesale system works and then submit an application to become a reseller.  This form can contain whatever fields you need including their business info, social media handles, tax documents, resale certificate or whatever documents you need.  When they submit the application, they are actually creating an account in the store, but it isn’t yet active.

You’ll get an email when a new account request is submitted, and you can then review all of the information.  If you want to approve the account, you simply change the account to the appropriate level and make it active.  The customer can then log in to the store the same way a retail customer does, but they will see their own user-specific information, pricing, products, etc.  At checkout, they’ll be shown the shipping and payment methods assigned to their membership level.

Orders

The wholesale orders show up in the normal order flow with the retail orders, so there is no need for a second admin panel.  You simply process the orders as you would a normal retail order.  We even have a Point of Sale module so that you can enter orders directly into the system for those old-school business who don’t use the internet (yes, there are still quite a few!).

Moving to Pinnacle Cart

If B2B is an important part of your business and Shopify wholesale just isn’t cutting it for you, we can help!  Moving to a new platform isn’t as scary as you think, and can be done in as little as 2 weeks.  Here’s how the process usually works:

  • We’ll install Pinnacle Cart on the hosting platform of your choice and copy over all of your current settings from Shopify (Shipping, Taxes, Payment Methods, SEO info, etc).  We can also host for you for $40/month
  • We’ll install any of our add-ons that are needed, and configure the wholesale options that apply to your store
  • We’ll add any custom programming or third party integrations that are needed (ShippingEasy, Mailchimp, etc)
  • We can either copy your current design verbatim or provide you with a new custom design
  • We’ll migrate your products and categories across – everything migrates with the exception of any third party app data
  • We’ll work with you to test every aspect of the store to make sure it looks and works exactly the way you want
  • The final step is to migrate the customers and orders across and make the site live

Common Questions

We know you probably have a ton of questions, here are some of the more common ones:

Will I lose rank/will Google drop my pages?

When a migration is done correctly, your rank and indexed pages will remain exactly as they currently are.  Often times we find that clients sites rank better after the move due to the excellent optimizations present in Pinnacle Cart.  The trick is to make sure that the urls, site structure, META data and content all remain the same.  The problems happen when you completely re-do the category structure or change all of your urls without redirecting them.  We have done hundreds of migrations over the years, and have an extensive checklist that we follow to make sure it all goes smoothly.

Will I lose my order history?

No, we migrate all of your orders across

Will my customers have to re-register?  Will they lose their order history?

All of the customer data will migrate other than their passwords which are encrypted.  They will simply have ot use the ‘recover password’ option the first time they log in to the new site and then they can view their order history and billing/shipping data.

Will I have to re-enter my products?

All of your product data including images will be migrated across.

What about my Shopify blog?

We include a WordPress blog with all of our Pinnacle Cart installs, and WordPress has a Shopify blog import tool that brings across your posts

How much does it cost?

The cost will depend on a number of factors including design, desired functionality, quantity of data being migrated and what custom features and functions you need.  Contact us for a free, no-obligation quote.

Stop spending all of your time processing wholesale orders.  Contact us today and we can set up a demo, talk about pricing or answer any questions you have.  As always, there is no sales pressure and no obligation – we just want to give you the best cart for you and your customers.