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Is Shopify Plus the Right Ecommerce Platform For Your Wholesale Business?

  business advice, B2B eCommerce

shopify-plus

Shopify Plus is a new solution that was just released in 2014 and claims to be the most scalable and robust platform for your multi-channel, enterprise eCommerce. With a new player in the market, it is important to know how it can serve the needs of your business without breaking the bank. In this article, we will review the essential features that you should look out for in a wholesale eCommerce solution, and assess how Shopify Plus positions itself against a B2B wholesale eCommerce solution. 

Pricing Rules

Pricing and selling rules are important to every business type. Regardless of whether it is a customer-specific or product-specific pricing rule, the ability to create pricing rules allows wholesale businesses to have more flexibility in their pricing management. 

Creating wholesale price lists is something that can be done exclusively by Shopify Plus plan users since the wholesale channel is available only them. Through this feature, they are able to churn out different price lists for different customers on the same products. These price lists will override the regular, online store prices for the selected products and variants.  

If such a pricing feature is still insufficient for your wholesale business, you can also look into Shopify’s new and improved Price Rules API. It is meant to provide businesses with the added ability to create more sophisticated discounts and pricing rules.

Here’s the list of features under the Price Rules API:

  • Percentage discounts
  • Dollar amount discounts
  • Conditions for free shipping
  • Discounts associated with a minimum set of cart items

This improved API can be employed in several ways:

  • Merchants can apply specific discounts to selected groupings (e.g. multiple products, multiple collections, and customer groups).
  • Different conditions can be combined to create certain discounts (e.g. free shipping and a minimum order amount, or a certain percentage off for new customers only).
  • A single free shipping code that can be used internationally, instead of having individual codes for each country.

The list of ways in which this API can be employed is endless. Ultimately, it depends on how your wholesale business decides to work its pricing rules to maximize the sales value. 

With all these flexibility in creation, Shopify Plus is recommended as it will definitely aid you in crafting the optimal discount model for your wholesale business. However, a point to note would be the need for a developer on your team so as to be able to utilize these API, which is often rare in small and medium wholesale businesses. 

Integrations 

App integrations are quintessential to every SaaS platform. They reduce error and eliminates data duplicates, on top of other benefits such as saving (a ton of) time and money. 

To wholesalers, the most important integrations would be accounting and shipping integrations. These platforms are a crucial part of their business that they cannot do without. For accounting integrations, Shopify Plus supports many common accounting applications - such as QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, Sage - for businesses to seamlessly synchronize their accounting activities altogether. On the other hand, many external shipping applications - such as ShipStation, Bespoke Shipping, Shippo, ShippingEasy - can be integrated with the platform to give your customers the best experience. 

On top of that, Shopify Plus also has extensive apps and partners ecosystem, consisting of a variety of apps, technology providers and agencies. This reduces the need for external integration and further customization. Users of Shopify Plus can leverage all of the Enterprise capabilities of Plus with the consumability of Shopify. 

A strong network of partner applications paths the way to creating a well-rounded platform. Therefore, Shopify Plus is definitely the ideal platform for you to get started on creating the best shopping experience for your customers.  

Customization

The appearance and functionality of your interface make up a crucial aspect of your customer’s user experience. 

Shopify Plus offers a fully customizable and brandable checkout experience. Firstly, it grants you the ability to customize your checkout directly, where you will be able to customize the way people process payments, the kind of messages that will appear in the check out so that the look and feel of the checkout match your brand’s style. Secondly, you can also customize your checkout dynamically through with Shopify Scripts and the Shopify Script Editor.

Shopify Plus is the only Shopify plan which allows you to add more functionalities at the checkout level, whereas other plans only allow light customization only in the checkout pages. This makes it highly attractive as this level of customization is what exactly what you need to create the best user experience for your customers.   

You can read this article to read more about how you can create a fully customized checkout experience with Shopify Plus. 

Price 

Pricing is definitely a factor to consider when it comes to deciding which platform you should launch your business on.

Currently, there are no fixed published prices but Shopify Plus will cost you a minimum of $2,000 per month. This is the fee for the server, Shopify’s software, SSL and support. Additional fees include payment gateway fees, app fees, and maintenance fees. 

The platform fee is calculated based on your monthly sales volume. The figure ranges from 0.15% to 0.25%, depending on whether you are using Shopify Payments as the payment gateway. 

To better exemplify how pricing works for Shopify Plus, we’ve put together three examples below which cover different sizes of businesses.

Dessert.co

Desiree owns Dessert.co which employs a Shopify Plus store and sells $120,000 worth of desserts every month. This amounts to approximately $1.5 million in sales per annum. 

Let’s assume that Desiree does not use Shopify Payments as their payment gateway. This would mean that the platform fee that she should be paying would be $300 per month. 

However, since the minimum fee for Shopify Plus is $24,000 per annum ($2,000 x 12), it means that Desiree would have to pay that amount instead. This suggests that it might be more cost efficient for Desiree’s business to be on a lower Shopify Plan unless she is planning on scaling her business greatly in the near future. 

Nature’s Organic Peanut Butter 

Natalie founded Nature’s Organic Peanut Butter which sells $800,000 worth of peanut butter jars every month. This amounts to approximately $10 million in annual sales. Also, she does not use Shopify Payments as their payment gateway.

This would mean that the platform fees is at least $24,000 per annum, which is the same as the minimum price that businesses have to pay for Shopify Plus. 

Georgia’s Roasters 

Georgia runs a coffee roasting company called Georgia’s Roasters. They sell $1,200,000 worth of coffee beans every month. This would be approximately $14.5 million in sales per annum. Let’s keep the assumption that Georgia does not use Shopify Payments as their payment gateway as well. 

The platform fees that they have to pay for Shopify Plus would amount to $3,000 per month and at least $36,000 per year. 

From the three examples illustrated above, you can observe that Shopify Plus is more suitable for large wholesalers with at least $800,000 in sales per month. It is also apparent that this platform is not suitable for small wholesalers as their low volume of sales would not be justifiable for using such a costly platform. 

Pricing is a huge disadvantage of Shopify Plus for most companies who look at using Shopify as it makes up a significant cost for their business. Unlike big companies with a higher sales volume of at least $10 million or more annually, the benefits of using the platform simply do not outweigh the high costs that come with it. If you are a wholesaler who is considering to sign up or switch to Shopify Plus, I would only recommend that if your (projected) sales volume is at least $10million annually. 

Channel and Mobile Optimization

Shopify Plus supports many sales channels that your wholesale business can use to sell products and reach more customers. From selling on an online store to selling on Facebook Messenger, Amazon and eBay, there are many different sales channel can be employed to maximize sales. Other sales channels such as Buzzfeed and Lyst, which are from third-party developers can also be added to the Shopify App Store.

Mobile optimization is the key to reaching out to more consumers on the go. According to a 2017 report by US-based marketing company BrightEdge, 57% of all online traffic in the US came from mobile devices. In response to keeping up with this trend, Shopify has made all their themes fully responsive. This means that your wholesale customers will get a consistent experience regardless of the device that they are using to browse through your platform. 

A good news for your business’s in-house developer (if any) would be the fact that Shopify has a mobile SDK. This streamlines the 100% native mobile app development process such that mobile optimization is a whole lot easier for developers as they do not have to reinvent the wheel, which makes things more efficient. 

The myriad of sales channel is a huge plus point for wholesale businesses as it allows them to maximize their outreach. Coupled with the ease of mobile optimization, Shopify Plus is definitely an optimal choice for a wholesale business. 

Scalability and Security

Scalability of a platform is important when you are choosing a platform. You should have a long-term plan for the future in mind when considering whether the platform is able to support your operations as your business expands. It should also ideally contain features and functionalities are customizable so that you will be able to grow your business more effectively. 

According to a report by Shopify, Shopify Plus provides 99.97% server uptime, up to 10,000 orders per minute per store, 7,000+ cores, and a fully-integrated Fastly CDN. $1 billion worth of transaction was completed by Shopify Merchants during Black Friday and Cyber Monday Weekend in 2017, with no outages.

Indeed, Shopify is a highly scalable platform which is able to scale with you regardless of the volume that you trade. The servers and checkout are able to handle serious amounts of traffic and transactions, without a single hiccup. 

Security is a huge area of concern for all as customer’s details and payment information are a sensitive issue for any company. With that being said, having a secure site is crucial as it would prevent such confidential information from landing in the hands of cybercriminals. 

Shopify places as much emphasis on security as you do. Shopify Plus is a highly secure eCommerce solution with multiple layers of protection to keep your business and customers safe. It is certified Level 1 PCI DSS compliant. This compliance extends to all online stores powered by Shopify. 

With the ability to scale quickly and efficiently as well as highly secure security features, Shopify Plus takes care of your worries so that you can focus on growing your business. 

Conclusion

Shopify Plus is a robust, low maintenance solution for enterprise businesses. It is designed for online businesses that either already have an established customer base or are planning to grow rapidly in the near future. Ideally, their annual sales figure should be at least $10 million to make the usage of the platform costworthy for their business. 

However, it would not be an ideal solution for any growing business. Firstly, the cost of Shopify Plus is simply too much for small and medium wholesale businesses to bear. We are talking about at a 7 figure annual sales figure of at least $10 million to make the cost of the platform justifiable for your business. It is definitely a platform that is more suited for established businesses. 

Secondly, while the availability of API allows for greater flexibility in creation, it is noteworthy that many small and medium wholesale businesses do not have an in-house developer. If they were to require that specific functionality provided by that API, they may have to hire an additional developer/ engineer, which will definitely be a strain on their budget. 

Most small and medium wholesale businesses are better off with a smaller and more cost-efficient solution with provides similar features and functionalities as Shopify. If you’re unsure whether Shopify Plus will be the right plan for you, our suggestion would be to research on similar alternatives or start on a lower-tier plan and seek upgrading when the time is right.

Looking for the perfect solution for your B2B wholesale business? Look no further than Sweet Technology’s B2B eCommerce portal, which allows you to launch a wholesale ordering portal in minutes and deliver a personalized ordering experience for each one of your wholesale customers. Sweet is the perfect solution for you at a fraction of the price offered by Shopify. 

To find out more about how Sweet can help you, request a free demo or sign up for a free trial today. 

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