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Shopify for Wholesale B2B Sales

Your B2C/D2C sales are finally taking off on your Shopify site and you are getting inquiries for bulk purchases from business or organization customers. Should you just keep serving them as one-off deals with special discounts or set a formal process? Is Shopify even the right platform for B2B?

B2B sales needs are quite different from DTC/B2C sales. What are some possible ways to do this with Shopify? We try to address these questions in detail with specific guidelines to help you make the optimal choice for your business.

Business operational needs of a B2B Wholesale Business

Payment Options:

Only 5% of B2B purchases are made with credit/debit cards
55% of B2B buyers prefer different payment options

Popular Payment options for B2B:

A> Invoicing
B> Purchase order
C> extended credit, and payment plans

User-specific account management needs

Custom pricing: Pricing customized at individual customer level or group of customers level
Discounts: Volume-based pricing and discounts
Sales Negotiation: Invoice review and negotiated sales
Re-ordering: Allow customers to quickly reorder past purchases

How does Shopify meet these B2B needs?

  • Tagging Customers: Customer accounts can be tagged and pricing can be set based on tags. This meets the custom pricing by customer groups’ requirements.
  • Account-based Marketing: This offers customers a personalized experience
  • A customized shopping experience to the end consumer: Brands can also offer customized catalogs that show the most relevant products and recommendations to individual buyers to streamline their shopping experience and help them find products they’re most likely to purchase.
  • Extending a line of credit: Apps like Apruve allow customers to set up a business account with its automated B2B line of credit. The customer gets extended payment terms of 30-60 days and, the brand gets the money through a credit network right away.
  • Payment plans: Brands can offer customized and flexible payment plans with multiple payment options to customers using apps such as Partial.ly Payment Plans.
  • Recurring payment or subscription: Multiple Shopify apps allow setting up recurring orders with Recurring Payment, Subscription & Invoicing options.

The process of selling wholesale on Shopify

Let’s understand different options to use Shopify to sell products to other businesses.

Using discount codes

The easiest way to set up a wholesale price is to create a discount code and send it to your wholesale buyers. This is easy and fast. This technique is a good choice in the following instances:

  1. You need to have an easy and uncomplicated pricing approach where it will be based on a percentage discount. For instance, the wholesales prices of your products are always 40% of your retail price.
  2. You handle these orders manually and wholesale customers a small fraction of your business.
  3. When you are just experimenting with wholesale.

Using a Wholesale App

There are many Shopify Apps that support wholesale selling. These apps can handle the following tasks:

  1. Use the same B2C store to offer wholesale B2B or custom pricing to premium customers.
  2. Tag specific groups of businesses and then set the offer price for that particular group. A logged-in customer then will see the discounted or offer price and not the retail price.
  3. A detailed pricing spreadsheet can be uploaded for different products.
  4. Capability to send out invoices to be paid utilizing the payment provider that is set up in your Shopify admin
  5. Sending a personalized invoice email that lets the invoice be paid using various payment techniques, such as a wire transfer.
  6. Ability to mark the invoice as paid or partly paid as you get paid from external sources.

Some of the popular Wholesale apps are :
Wholesaler app
Bold Custom pricing: Wholesale

Add a wholesale channel (Shopify Plus only)

Shopify Plus allows adding wholesale channels which is basically a password-protected version of B2C store with Wholesale pricing features. Shopify Plus wholesale channel option includes implementing wholesale-specific pricing, automated accounts sign-ups, order review controls, and much more. It is a complete automated solution from sign-up to check-out.

Customized pricing options:
  • Percentage-based discounts by collections or across the store
  • Fixed (flat) prices for products
  • Different prices to different wholesale customers
  • Volume-based pricing rules
Order processing:
  • Email an invoice to be paid using the payment provider that is set up in your Shopify admin
  • Send a customized invoice email that allows the invoice to be paid using a different payment method, such as a wire transfer
  • Accept payment by credit card or mark the invoice as paid as you receive payment.
Disadvantages of using the wholesale channel approach:
  • Cannot integrate with any external systems or third-party apps
  • All prices displayed are including Taxes
  • Not a custom storefront for Wholesale customer

Opening a separate Shopify store for B2B

Opening a separate store enables you to keep your retail and wholesale stores completely separate.

Advantages of Independent wholesale store:
  1. Your wholesale customers can be separated from your retail businesses completely. You could use a completely new storefront and theme design to cater to your wholesale business.
  2. Wholesale and retail store inventories will be completely isolated.
Disadvantages of Independent wholesale store:
  1. You need to manage two stores independently
  2. Most apps charge by store instance so apps used on both stores will double the expense
  3. Additional Inventory Management Solution (IMS) will be needed if you want to manage both stores’ inventory centrally.
  4. The additional cost of Shopify instance ( Shopify Plus this can be done for free as expansion store)

Summary:

Shopify is an excellent platform for adding on B2B Sales. There are multiple ways to do this based on the stage of your business. Here are four ways to operate a B2B business on Shopify:

  1. On the lowest end are special Discount codes on the current B2C site for small-scale B2B sales and/or just testing waters.
  2. In the middle range is using Third-party wholesale applications. This is best for merchants who want simplicity and who look forward to having just a single store to serve all their customer groups at once.
  3. Shopify’s wholesale channel works best for Shopify Plus merchants who have a simple ordering channel to receive B2B orders.
  4. A separate Shopify online store gives B2B customers the most leeway both during and after the project, enabling, among other things, different catalogs and promotions in different stores.

Did we miss anything? What is your experience with B2B Shopify? Let us know in the comments below.

eCommerce Marketing Automation: HubSpot, Klaviyo or ActiveCampaign?

Marketing automation is crucial to every business, no matter how big or small, if you want to stay competitive in your respective industry. Automation tools save your team time, increase productivity, allows for personalization when engaging with your audience, and thus increases sales by allowing you to keep up with all of your contacts, campaigns, and track results from one platform. Which marketing automation tool is right for you? Let’s compare three of the most popular platforms: HubSpot, Klaviyo, and ActiveCampaign

Features

HubSpot

HubSpot is a comprehensive CRM platform that gives users the tools they need to succeed and grow in one place. It offers four different service areas: marketing, CRM & Sales, Customer Service, and CMS. Users can manage website content, create landing pages, deploy campaigns, email tracking, deal pipelines, results tracking, and so much more.

Klaviyo

Klaviyo is a popular email marketing software platform. It is designed to help businesses build and scale their brand, transition brick and mortar stores into the online space, and more. This platform offers powerful email and SMS marketing automation and tracking that can either be used separately or in unison.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is an email marketing first and CRM second platform that encompasses email marketing, marketing automation, and sales automation. Unlike other tools on the market, ActiveCampaign focuses on email marketing and lets CRM take a backseat. It does offer advanced integrations for those who have CRMs such as SalesForce. Email tracking is available in the Lite version and above, while deal pipelines are available in the plus and above.

Best for B2B, B2C, or Ecommerce?

HubSpot is geared more towards B2B companies, while Klaviyo is designed for B2C companies and eCommerce. ActiveCampaign is an ideal solution for both B2B and B2C organizations.

Number of Free Contacts

HubSpot

HubSpot allows storage of up to 1 million non-marketing contacts free of charge. Users can choose which contacts are marketing contacts. The number of marketing contacts allowed depends on the plan. The starter plan allows up to 1,000 contacts, the professional plan has a limit of 2,000 contacts, and the enterprise plan allows a maximum of 10,000 contacts. If you need more contacts for your specific plan, you can purchase additional space.

Klaviyo

Up to 250 free contacts are allowed with the free version.

ActiveCampaign

A maximum of 100 free contacts is allowed with the 14-day free trial.

Contract Period

HubSpot offers both monthly and annual subscription plans that you can cancel at any time. ActiveCampaign offers only monthly subscriptions, but like HubSpot subscribers can cancel at any time. Klaviyo is a little different from the other two. Since it is pay-as-you-go, there is no monthly or annual commitment.

Pricing

HubSpot

When it comes to pricing, HubSpot has perhaps the most complicated pricing structure. With that being said, they have something for every budget, which is appealing. HubSpot offers several different plans in 4 different categories (marketing, CRM & Sales, Customer Service, CMS). Clients can choose one or more at a price point they are comfortable with. There are forever free plans for each category and starter plans that begin at $45/month. Predesigned bundles are also available, beginning at $50/month. If none of the bundles fit your needs, you can create a custom bundle. Clients can choose between monthly and yearly subscriptions with a slight discount for those who choose an annual plan.

Klaviyo

Thanks to Klaviyo’s unique pay-as-you-go pricing model, any number of contacts can be accommodated without paying for space you do not need. There is a free version of the email side that allows up to 250 contacts and 500 email sends. The pricing structure is tiered based on the number of contacts and email sends needed. SMS is 1 cent per send, and MMS is 3 cents per send. There are no monthly or annual commitments.

ActiveCampaign

Pricing begins at $9/month and a maximum of 500 contacts and increases if you choose a higher tier package with more contacts. ActiveCampaign does offer a 14-day free trial with a maximum of 100 contacts, and 100 email sends. The trial version has all of the features of the professional plan. Once the trial expires, you can manually upgrade or just let it expire if you do not wish to continue using ActiveCampaign. All plans are on a monthly subscription basis with no contract.

Our Recommendations

HubSpot

HubSpot is a robust platform ideal for B2B medium-sized companies and enterprises who have or plan on having a larger sales team that requires sophisticated CRM, deal pipelines, email scheduling, and tracking. 

Klaviyo

This is a simplified platform that is great for small and large B2C and eCommerce businesses. One of the best parts of Klaviyo is that it allows the set-up of multiple email automation that is inherent to the eCommerce ecosystem.

ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is ideal for small B2B or B2C businesses that need to send out frequent emails and newsletters without the need for a robust CRM. 

We work with all these three platforms and certified partners. We recommend them in the following order:

  1. Klaviyo: Ecommerce website online businesses
  2. Active Campaign: Ecommerce business + B2B partners and retailers to be tracked.
  3. Hubspot: B2B long sales cycle service or product businesses

Shopping Carts: Self-Hosted vs. Hosted

In our previous post, we covered Shopping carts and it’s various types. In this one, let’s get into the pros and cons of both types of shopping carts.

Why Self-hosted eCommerce platforms?

  1. With a self-hosted shopping cart, you have better control over your web stores.
  2. Additional features are available in forms of plugins or extensions and if you don’t have one, there is a community to reach out to develop one.
  3. The self-hosted eCommerce solution gives you the freedom and capability to scale anytime as business grows.
  4. Freedom to choose hosting of your choice.

Why NOT?

  1. Requires technical assistance in setting up the store.
  2. Though you have the community backing you but there is lack of direct support from the provider.
  3. Costs go up once your store begins to grow and this is completely dependent on the hosting provider you choose.

Why Hosted eCommerce platforms?

  1. The one-stop eCommerce solution that includes hosting, shopping cart capability, and technical support.
  2. Simple to build and manage eStores with very little technical knowledge.
  3. Centralized support team to go to when you are stuck and they will take care of it for you.
  4. They are reasonably priced and offer various deals on advance payments.

Why NOT?

  1. As you scale your store on hosted eCommerce platforms, it can cost more than the self-hosted eCommerce solution.
  2. Your control is limited when it comes to customizing the store and can work only with the available resources.
  3. Switching platforms can cost you a lot of money and is also a time-consuming process. At times, it has been found impossible to migrate the stores from hosted platforms due scope of the store.

In Conclusion, Hosted and Self-Hosted eCommerce solutions are both powerful and flexible. They  provide control and can be set up within lower budgets but takes time and requires technical know-how to maintain and run.

Whereas, Hosted eCommerce platforms can be set up quickly and requires less technical knowledge but will cost more and have limitations with customization.

Now that we have covered the positives and negatives of Self-Hosted and Hosted shopping carts above, look out for our next blog where we will present comprehensive list of Self-hosted Shopping Carts solutions.

Different Types of Shopping Carts

If you are planning to open an online store, you cannot ignore shopping carts. Shopping carts are the basic functionality that allows the user to make a purchase on your website. Here is a compiled list of all the shopping carts for you at one place.

Following are some basic types of shopping carts:

  1. Hosted shopping carts or a.k.a eCommerce platforms are software-as-a-solution which are hosted by platforms on their own servers.
    Example: Shopify.
  2. Self-hosted shopping carts, these are traditional or the original shopping cart solutions that are hosted on your own servers.
    There are two types of Self-hosted shopping carts:
    • Open Source Shopping Carts which can be installed on your server. The source code of this available to developers for customization and bug fixing.
      Example: Woocommerce (WordPress), Drupal Commerce (Drupal), Magento.
    • Licensed Software is developed by a single company and is available for use on your own server for one-time fee payment.
      Example: CS-Cart

Read our blog for Pros and Cons of Self-Hosted Shopping Carts and Hosted Shopping Carts.