Many brands sell both directly to their customers as well as wholesale to retailers and resellers. This is often referred to as selling B2C (business-to-consumer or D2C—direct-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business).
The big question for brands selling wholesale (whether on Shopify or Shopify Plus) is whether it is better to run a single store or separate stores.
There is, of course, no simple, best-practice answer to this question. It does depend on your needs and how you structure your wholesale offering.
When a single Shopify store for both direct-to-consumer and wholesale customers might be best
- You have the same inventory and product range for both wholesale and retail customers—or it’s mostly the same with perhaps a few exceptions.
- You’re selling from the same stock for both wholesale and retail customers.
- You don’t have an ERP or inventory management platform to sync stock levels across multiple stores.
- You have a small number of products.
- Your wholesale pricing structure is simple—such as a simple, blank percentage wholesale discount across all products or groups of products.
- You would like to offer the same customer-experience for retail and wholesale customers.
- You have an email marketing platform such as Klaviyo that works best with one store.
When separate wholesale and retail stores might be best on Shopify
- You have a significantly different product range for wholesale and retail customers.
- You’re shipping from different warehouses or different stock for wholesale and retail.
- You have an ERP or inventory management platform that can seamlessly sync products across different sales channels.
- You have a large number of products with complex merchandizing needs—and perhaps need to merchandize differently for wholesale and retail.
- You have complex pricing requirements for wholesale—such as multiple price tiers for different customer groups or you don’t offer a blank wholesale discount across all products and need to manage specific price lists for each customer group.
- You want different user-experience and customer journeys for retail and wholesale customers—i.e., you might want a simplified experience for wholesale customers that makes it super quick to find a product or part through search whereas retail is focused more on guiding customers to products they don’t know they’re looking for.
Some common tips and tricks for running a single store on Shopify for wholesale and retail
- If using Shopify Plus, you can set up a Cart Script to apply discounts to the cart based on a customer tag—such as "Wholesale".
- If you are not using Shopify Plus, the theme can be modified to automatically apply a discount code to the cart based on a customer tag—similar to above but, because it’s a discount code, the customer won’t be able to apply additional discount codes.
- The theme can be modified to exclude certain products from collections and search results—i.e., only show products tagged with "Wholesale Only" unless a customer is logged in and tagged with "Wholesale".
- You could hide or show additional menu items depending on the customer who is logged in—same with collections.
- You could add some logic to the cart to require, say, a minimum of X products from Y collection before checking out for wholesale customers.
- If you are on Shopify Plus, if a customer is tagged with "Wholesale" (or any other tag you choose), you could provide additional payment options in the checkout such as "Net 30 Days on Invoice".
It’s generally simpler and more cost-effective for smaller brands to run a single store on Shopify for wholesale and retail
- You don’t need to pay for and maintain two stores.
- All your customers and order history are in one place.
- Your marketing and content and storytelling is easier and all in one place.
- Unless you have complex requirements, it’s simpler overall.
For larger brands—and merchants on Shopify Plus—you will have more flexibility and control running separate stores
- You can manage separate inventory
- You have more control over pricing
- You can optimize the experience and customer journey for the different channels