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How to Sell Wholesale Online in 2021: A Detailed Guide

How to Sell Wholesale Online in 2021: A Detailed Guide

Wondering how to sell wholesale?

Great — you’re on the right path for achieving new levels of growth.

Although most ecommerce entrepreneurs start by selling their products directly to consumers, wholesaling offers a range of benefits that make it worthy of consideration.

Wholesalers don’t have to worry about managing and supporting many individual customers or shipping items to endless locations.

Instead, you form lucrative partnerships with a selection of businesses. Not only does this provide you with a fantastic source of repeat revenue, but you’re also able to slash your marketing costs by having a smaller number of customers buying at once.

So, where do you start?

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What Is Wholesaling?

First, let’s define wholesaling.

Wholesaling is the act of selling products in large quantities to other retailers. Wholesalers typically sell at a discounted price, which allows merchants to earn a profit.

how wholesale works

For instance, your local grocery store buys its goods from wholesale companies. Because the purchase involves buying much larger quantities than usual, the wholesalers sell their items at a reduced price. The store then adds a markup on the wholesale price to make a profit on sales.

As a wholesaler, you can build a source of recurring revenue by having contracts with retailers who want to maintain a constant inventory of your products.

Plus, you can scale your business by continuing to sell your items to end consumers.

That’s the beauty of having a wholesale channel — you get to capture sales from both individual shoppers and other retailers.

Why Start a Wholesaling Business?

Selling wholesale online is a simple and effective way to make a consistent income.

As long as you can maintain a constant supply of products, and get those items to retailers on time, you can build a successful wholesaling business.

Some of the biggest benefits of this business model include:

Higher revenue from fewer transactions

Selling in bulk to retailers means you can move many products in a short space of time.

You can sell thousands of units of an item in one purchase.

It’s even possible to sign your customers up for subscription purchases so they don’t run out of inventory (and you make recurring income).

Lower overheads

Although most wholesalers indeed offer bulk products at a discount, it’s worth noting you also save on overheads by selling wholesale.

You won’t have to spend as much money on individually packaging and shipping each unit.

You can also save cash on marketing because you only need a few great relationships with retailers to maintain your income.

benefits of wholesaling

Improved brand awareness

If you sell your products in a wholesale environment, you can leverage the existing brand reputation of the retail company you’re working with to attract more customers.

Getting more physical and virtual shelf space for your items can raise recognition of your products.

Over time, the right exposure through partnerships with retail companies can lead to new opportunities.

Market expansion

Relationships with retail customers can open the door for you to enter new markets.

After all, if you decide to expand in a wholesale to retailer environment, you won’t have to build a new presence from scratch in a different market before you can attract customers.

You can simply move your product into an existing retailer’s portfolio and leverage its presence to establish your business footprint.

How to Start Selling Wholesale: Creating Your Wholesale Channel

There are a couple of ways you start selling wholesale.

The first option is to build your own wholesale storefront from scratch. You can do this easily with an ecommerce platform like Shopify.

Alternatively, you can add wholesale functionality to your existing store.
Let’s explore both options in more detail.

Creating a wholesale storefront

If you decide to build a dedicated wholesale store, you can use Shopify to design and build a new one from scratch. For businesses that already have an online store for consumers to buy from, there’s the option to set up another store with a different URL.

The easiest way to create a second store is through Shopify’s password protection feature. This allows you to lock your wholesale store so that only your retailers can place orders on your storefront. You can enable password protection from your Shopify admin by going to Online Store > Preferences.

password-protecting shopify store

With a password-protected store, you can list all your products at a discounted price for your audience to purchase.

If you have a high order volume secured already, you can also upgrade an existing account with a website builder to an “enterprise” package. For instance, Shopify Plus, the enterprise version of Shopify, has a wholesale channel feature that allows you to create a separate wholesale channel within your existing account.

The upgrade option could be an ideal choice if you want to create a storefront with the products you already have on your website. You can still separate consumer and wholesale sales this way, too, so you can track how well each channel is performing.

Creating a Wholesale Channel with a Shopify App

Adding a wholesale channel to your existing store usually involves investing in an app or plugin.

For Shopify stores, there are over 200 wholesale apps available on the Shopify App marketplace. Here, you can find apps designed to help you leverage wholesale functionality.

wholesale apps for shopify

Wholesale Club is a nice one.

It lets you categorize customers into groups that receive their own discounts on retail products on your website. The app even has a marketing feature that encourages customers to make bigger purchases by providing bigger discounts.

Plus, Wholesale Club has a security feature that only allows customers with approved retailer accounts to view your wholesale pricing. Using this option means you don’t need to create a separate wholesale store or product catalog to offer a secure, seamless shopping experience to your retail customers.

How to Sell Wholesale Products: 5 Tips

Now that you understand the basics of how to sell wholesale online, let’s go over some tips to help you get more orders. Here’s how to increase the sales of your business:

1. Register with a wholesale marketplace

A lot of modern retailers find and order products from wholesale marketplaces. So, apart from selling wholesale through your own store, you can register with some of the most popular marketplaces to expand your reach.

To ensure you’re collaborating with the right marketplace, do your research. The best wholesale marketplaces will integrate well with your existing sales channels, so you don’t have to work too hard to connect with new customers.

For instance, Handshake is a great marketplace for Shopify stores interested in selling wholesale. The platform allows store owners to sell through specific categories so that they can reach the right audience. You even get to decide which retailers you want to work with.

best wholesale marketplace

2. Partner with complementary brands

A key benefit of selling wholesale is that, unlike conventional retail, you don’t always need a large pool of customers in order to scale. However, it’s a good idea to partner with complementary businesses in your chosen market. They can recommend your business to their customers (make sure to return the favor), which can help you get more exposure and sales.

To find the right partners, think about the kind of companies most capable of complementing your existing offering. For instance, Stokke, a brand known for creating baby furniture and cribs, partnered with Pehr, a brand that offers 100% organic sheets, to cross-sell products and generate more profits for both retailers.

Finding the right wholesale brands to partner with requires some research. You’ll need to find potential companies that can supplement your offering and reach out with ideas on working together in a mutually beneficial way.

3. Attend trade shows

One of the best ways to unlock new wholesale opportunities and even collaborative partnerships is by networking at trade shows.

Networking is a fantastic tool for any merchant — especially those planning on selling wholesale. When you attend local trade shows in your industry, you’re surrounded by people who are buying and selling products related to your portfolio.

The great news for today’s wholesalers is there are specialty trade shows available for virtually every industry, from athletic clothing and accessories to technology and communication tools. To ensure you’re not wasting time and money on too much travel, do your research to find out which trade shows are most likely to attract your audience.

You can also consider looking into virtual trade shows and similar events if you want to save cash on hiring a physical booth.

find wholesalers at tradeshows

4. Use incentives to encourage buying

Incentives and offers aren’t just for consumers. Businesses, too, like to know they’re getting a good deal. That’s why most wholesalers will always offer a bigger discount to their customers based on the volume of products they buy. If you’ve started to track down retailers who might be interested in your products, you can boost your chances of conversion with incentives.

A common option is to offer bigger discounts or deals for a customer’s first order (first impressions are everything). Other incentives might include:

  • Setting low minimum order requirements so that companies can start with a smaller purchase
  • Offering free shipping when someone orders a set amount (in a specific location)
  • Providing a range of payment terms, including monthly subscription costs
  • Offering bundle deals when people buy certain bulk items together
  • Giving customers free samples and testers

Some wholesalers can even offer services similar to dropshipping, where companies advertise products on their website, then rely on the wholesale provider to deliver the item to the end customer.

5. Nail your product descriptions and images

Contrary to popular belief, retailers pay a lot of attention to product descriptions and images. This helps them get a better idea of the items before they make a bulk purchase.

If you want to make a solid impression on buyers, make sure to take high-quality images of your products. This can be done with a simple background and lighting (natural lighting works best for most products) to ensure retailers can see the finer details of your items easily.
What about product descriptions? We can tell you from experience that including a story is one of the best ways to engage buyers.

Use the initial lines to craft a narrative about how your product will make customers’ lives better. Retailers are sure to take notice when they see the product will be beneficial for their audience. You can include the technical specifications, like product size and country of origin, later in the description.

Top read: How to Write Product Descriptions That Sell

Summary: How to Sell Wholesale in 2021

Running a wholesale storefront might look challenging on paper, but it’s much easier to do with the right setup and strategies for attracting retailers.

By selling your products wholesale, you can save time and money on customer acquisition, plus enter new markets with less risk.

If you want to know how to sell wholesale today, consider using these steps as a guide:

  1. Create a wholesale channel
  2. Register with a wholesale marketplace
  3. Partner with complementary businesses
  4. Use incentives to encourage buying
  5. Nail your product descriptions and images

What strategies are you using to sell wholesale online? Share your best methods below!

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