Selling wholesale is the process of selling products in bulk to other retailers who will then mark up the price and sell the items from their own stores. Essentially, the wholesaler is the "middleman" between the manufacturer or other distributor, and the end consumer.
Wholesaling is very different from selling directly to individual customers, as it involves a much larger scale, and wholesale clients have different expectations from end consumers. These factors are at the core of the difference between B2C (Business to Customer) and B2B (Business to Business) eCommerce.
Most businesses are B2C, meaning they sell directly to end consumers, i.e. individuals shopping for themselves (or family or friends, etc.). B2C consumers are what most people think of when they hear the word "customer."
On the contrary, B2B merchants sell to other businesses. They work "in the background" to move goods and services to consumer-facing B2C businesses. A supply chain can involve any number of B2B businesses before the products finally reach individual consumers. Wholesalers and other types of suppliers fit into the B2B category.
Some businesses sell B2B and B2C at the same time, by offering different pricing or promotions to B2B customers or providing them with a whole different shopping experience. There are multiple ways you can segment your B2B and B2C customers if you still want to sell B2C after becoming a wholesaler. We will cover some techniques in this guide when we discuss tools for wholesale eCommerce stores.
While the end consumers targeted by B2C companies have a familiar set of needs, B2B buyers have their own requirements and expectations for any wholesaler they consider doing business with. These include bulk pricing, methods to help them place large orders quickly, and support for corporate-based payment methods that typical consumers don't use. Check out our guide to B2B eCommerce for more specifics.
Moving into wholesale is a natural growth step for many businesses that are ready to sell in higher quantities. Wholesalers can be at different steps in the supply chain — some manufacture their product, while others distribute products manufactured elsewhere; what makes them wholesalers is that they sell inventory in bulk to other businesses, not their exact position in the process. No matter the specifics, becoming a wholesaler can benefit your business in several ways.
This benefit applies to products your business doesn't manufacture itself, and needs to stock up on for future distribution. Wholesalers can get lower costs when buying from manufacturers because of the sheer volume they'll need to purchase to supply their wholesale clients. Additionally, some manufacturers will only work with a wholesale distributor rather than customer-facing retail stores, so if you've already been selling products from manufacturers who do this, you've been buying your stock from a middleman supplier with their own markup. Becoming a wholesaler will allow you to skip that supplier and make your own deal with the manufacturer at a lower cost.
B2B buyers make careful choices when picking a wholesale supplier because they prefer to choose one they can remain with for the foreseeable future. Changing suppliers can disrupt their business by causing differences in their products, including pricing, quality, and manufacturer, that customers may not like. Securing a new B2B client isn't easy, but if you manage to establish yourself as a business's supplier, they are likely to stick with you. This long-term loyalty means consistent, predictable income for your business. Wholesalers usually only supply a small number of B2B customers, which also means a better opportunity to develop this relationship than would be possible with your time split between thousands of shoppers.
Selling wholesale can speed up your business's growth in several ways depending on your circumstances. For example, if you're a manufacturer, selling in bulk may allow you to raise your production volume and lower overall costs, as the cost-per-unit nearly always goes down when volume is increased. This would improve your profit margin. Fulfillment costs will also see an overall reduction (per unit) since you'd be shipping in bulk to a smaller number of customers (and depending on your business, some may be packaging your product themselves for final sale, further reducing your costs). Finally, if you're an inventor or manufacturer, wholesaling is a great way to get more attention for your product by placing it into more markets. Remember that your wholesale customers are also trying to sell the items you sell to them, so they'll be marketing your products.
Just like with B2C eCommerce, wholesale eCommerce gives you the opportunity to provide complete information about your products so wholesale clients can browse your website freely, rather than need to contact you for basic information. Your website will also make it easier for potential clients to find out about your products in the first place, especially if your SEO is good. Overall, eCommerce has made things much easier for businesses in search of wholesalers, which means more potential for businesses like yours to find long-term clients.
The process you use to start selling wholesale will vary depending on your business's situation and your future plans. Ask yourself these questions:
Your answers to these questions will determine whether you overhaul your eCommerce website to serve wholesale customers exclusively, or if you implement ways to sell to both types of customer. Many small businesses that develop into wholesalers decide to keep selling B2C at the same time, which has become possible because of the tools available in eCommerce.
Depending on how strictly you want to separate your business's wholesale and B2C shopping experience, you could create a different website for wholesale clients, or you could serve both types of customer from the same website. Many small businesses that move into wholesaling prefer to follow the second method because it allows them to concentrate their efforts on a single website that has already been established.
If you decide to sell wholesale from your existing website, you'll need to offer bulk pricing to your wholesale customers without lowering your regular prices that normal consumers can access. There are a few ways you can do this.
Your eCommerce website will need certain features to help you sell wholesale, as well as tools for you to use behind the scenes to set up your online store and manage your wholesale business. 3dcart is fully equipped with everything you need to successfully compete in the world of wholesale eCommerce.
We briefly touched on the needs of wholesale buyers near the beginning of this guide, such as bulk discounts, fast reordering methods, and certain payment types. We've also gone over the tools you need to offer these features to your wholesale customers. These tools allow you to create the type of shopping experience wholesale buyers are looking for, so simply having them on your website can help them choose you over a competitor.
However, you'll still need to make sure your site is appealing, works well on all devices (mobile and desktop), and communicates the qualities of your brand. If you're using 3dcart, you're already ahead of the game with access to our Core Theme Engine, which is the framework on which all modern 3dcart eCommerce website templates are based. Some of our B2B tools require a Core theme to work, but all the themes in our Theme Store are Core (including our free themes) and all can be customized for your brand. Using a Core theme will speed up your website and give your customers the smooth shopping experience they're looking for, whether they're a wholesale client or an end consumer.
With a vast array of powerful tools for wholesale, B2C, and combination stores, and superior web design geared toward providing the best possible experience, 3dcart is the ideal solution for growing your business as a wholesaler.