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Wholesale eCommerce Solution: All You Need To Know

A wholesale eCommerce solution can revolutionize businesses still working in older formats or disconnected systems for different channels. By bringing sales through a unified solution, and linking that solution to other mission-critical business systems, you can get a much more efficient way of capturing and processing bulk orders by other businesses.

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What Is Wholesale eCommerce?

Wholesale eCommerce is a modern way to sell in bulk to other businesses. Instead of transactions in-person, via email, phone or even fax, a wholesale eCommerce solution allows self-service purchases by your buyers to quickly acquire what they need with minimal intervention. To support more in-person options, they’ll also tend to have a mobile app geared towards salespeople for capturing sales in person or via salesperson-led channels.

How Does Wholesale eCommerce Work?

Wholesale eCommerce can take a number of forms but primarily provides a self-service solution for buyers to be able to sign on and place their own orders. Other aspects include sales quotes for offering a draft order for review by buyers and a mobile app for salespeople to intake orders wherever they are.

All the permutations, however, aim to leverage modern eCommerce technology built specifically for wholesalers to streamline former ways of getting the same process done. All three approaches are optimized to make bulk purchases easier to assemble and process, both for buyers and salespeople on the order creation side and for the business on the order fulfillment side.

Wholesale eCommerce Trends

Wholesale eCommerce has been growing steadily, with eCommerce now accounting for one-third of all wholesale commerce sales, and growth is expected to continue from there. The shift to online sales correlates with growing comfortability for wholesale eCommerce transactions to be conducted as self-service purchases by those who also shop online at home for themselves.

The efficiency of shifting away from in-person, catalog, or outmoded technology (phone/fax/email) will continue as businesses see the efficiency in offering modern eCommerce solutions for both their buyers and their salespeople.

For instance, salespeople are increasingly leveraging focused mobile apps that make locating customer information like pricing and creating large orders simple wherever they are: Working from the office, remotely at home or out in the field at conferences or buyers’ businesses.

Advantages of B2B eCommerce for Wholesalers

B2B eCommerce gives wholesalers advantages vs. other methods of generating and managing sales:

Order Aggregation

Regardless of whether your orders are generated by buyers or your internal team, you can have them all live in a single location for processing. Previously, orders would come in from a variety of sources and have to be manually keyed into some sort of system. By allowing your customer service and sales teams to have tools that work with the tools your buyers have, you can concentrate information in a single source.

Integration with other systems

B2B eCommerce systems can generally be easily integrated with other critical business systems, such as accounting, CRM, and ERP systems. In this way, data can flow automatically and instantly to wherever the data needs to live to allow for invoicing, order processing and customer recordkeeping.​

Greater efficiency

Going hand in hand with all orders living in one place is the ability for a wholesale eCommerce solution to make work easier. Allowing your buyers to place orders themselves reduces the number of orders coming in from manual sources, as does having your salespeople enter orders right into the system.

Reduce data entry errors

By avoiding constant transcribing of information into the order systems and to other systems, you’ll see fewer mistakes, which can be costly to a business over time. Having more accurate data will ensure your business can not only operate more smoothly but deliver a better customer experience.

What Does a Wholesale eCommerce Platform Do?

A wholesale eCommerce platform allows for the recording of sales through a variety of Internet-driven channels, including buyer purchases through a website and salesperson-led orders through a mobile app. In the process, it streamlines ordering to go through instant, electronic channels instead of more manual formats, which can introduce mistakes or delays because of manual data entry requirements.

The inefficiencies of wholesale purchasing prior to eCommerce are large: Salespeople would have to bring orders back to the company, orders phoned in or faxed would have to be transcribed into an ordering system, and each of these steps could take hours, days, or even weeks to be completed. 

By comparison, an order placed into a wholesale eCommerce platform is instantly ready to proceed, and with integrations to other systems, they can be processed however your business handles those workflows.

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Our customer success team would love to help you find the best eCommerce business platform or order management solution or to help you expand your sales.

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B2C vs. B2B and Wholesale eCommerce Platforms

There are a few primary differences between a wholesale eCommerce solution, built for predominantly B2B workflows, and solutions built for B2C audiences:

  • More direct buying workflow: Many B2C eCommerce solutions put a premium on design and discovery. They want their shoppers to browse around to add something else to their cart. Wholesale eCommerce tends to be more straightforward, with more obvious needs being fulfilled, so it’s about making the order process simple and straightforward.
  • Bigger order volumes: Wholesale purchases are about buying in bulk at a wholesale rate, so given that scenario, wholesale eCommerce is built to make building and processing those orders simpler.
  • Multiple buyers for companies: Many wholesale eCommerce businesses work with companies that have multiple buyers placing orders on behalf of a company. And that means the tools need to be able to offer unique logins but shared order histories and other information that can help manage such a scenario. For the wholesale seller, it also includes offering capabilities like order approval workflows and spending limits. These tools empower their buying companies to better oversee what’s going on with their organization’s ordering.
  • Invoices, purchase orders and net terms: Wholesale eCommerce, like other types of B2B eCommerce, tend to have an invoice-based system of paying for goods. This is compared to B2C, which tends to require payments upfront, or at the very least financed through a credit card or Buy Now Pay Later (BPNL). As such, payment types tend to differ, and each buyer may have different terms or spending limits based on their credit history or history with your business.

Choosing the Right Wholesale eCommerce Solution

There are a few core questions you can ask yourself about selecting the right wholesale eCommerce solution:

  • Does it cover your business use cases? Not every eCommerce solution covers every use case, and some are more feature complete than others. Knowing it can handle what your business requires is job one.
  • Can it talk to your other business systems? Most eCommerce solutions have some combination of first-party integrations, third-party integrations, APIs and other data accessibility measures. A solution with a first-party or third-party connector already developed to the solutions you need to use will certainly be better than one where a bridge between APIs needs to be constructed, as there’s no head start or previous developments to leverage.
  • How do you manage product pricing and customer segmentation? It’s important to know that the solution you choose can properly reflect your catalog and pricing for various customer types, as without that you can’t properly sell to them, whether through a self-service portal or a salesperson. Not all eCommerce solutions are designed the same way when it comes to this, so exploring what ways they handle it will help you confirm your goals can be achieved.
B2B ecommerce

Zoey's Core Capabilities

Zoey offers a suite of solutions to support your team and your buyers:

  • A salesperson-focused mobile app that makes looking up information and capturing sales easier, no matter where they are
  • A self-service order portal or B2B eCommerce website for buyers to look up product information, place orders and see account history.
  • A web-based administration panel to update customer or product information, manage orders and complete other online store-based tasked
To learn more about Zoey’s capabilities, request a demo today:

Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing a Wholesale eCommerce Platform

The biggest mistake many wholesalers make is choosing a platform that doesn’t offer room for growth. Traditionally, as a wholesaler’s business gets bigger, the complexity of managing the various scenarios grows.

There are a variety of considerations for wholesale eCommerce functionality, from customer and pricing segmentation to managing various net terms and spending limit scenarios. It’s helpful to review what functionality you need now, but also areas of interest for future growth, so you can be sure you don’t box yourself into a solution you’ll outgrow too quickly.

B2B and Wholesale eCommerce businesses tend to stick with technology for much longer than their B2C counterparts, and while that is evolving with time, it’s still important to pick the right solution to ensure your success for the years to come.

Another common mistake is misjudging the importance of B2B eCommerce to your business. Many companies that offer B2B and wholesale eCommerce don’t offer it as their primary solution or service. Some bolt it on to B2C eCommerce options or inventory solutions, to cite a couple of examples. And when this is the case, it tends to be less frequently enhanced, very limited in overall functionality, and restricted in which systems it can talk with.

Other mistakes are not leveraging segmentation scenarios to customize the buying experience for your individual buyers by showing them their specific pricing and not using catalog segmentation solutions to show your buyers the most relevant products to them, especially if you work across multiple industries.

Ready to START?

Our customer success team would love to help you find the best eCommerce business platform or order management solution or to help you expand your sales.

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a personalized demo of Zoey.

Top Considerations for Adopting a Wholesale eCommerce Solution

When adopting a wholesale eCommerce solution, it’s important to select a solution that places the proper importance on eCommerce relative to your business. If you have complex business rules and specific requirements, you must have met, selecting a solution where wholesale eCommerce isn’t a primary goal can be a major issue.

Bulk Ordering Tools

The major element that is critical in a wholesale eCommerce solution to help your buyers is bulk ordering tools, including:

  • Quick order forms: The ability to enter SKU/quantity pairings in rapid succession and add them all to the cart at one time is an important way to streamline the ordering experience and reduce friction to a sale. Asking your buyers to click on each product one at a time and add to cart is not an acceptable experience like it is for B2C eCommerce.
  • Recently ordered/reorder: Both of these options make it easy to leverage previous order information. A Recently Ordered list lets buyers revisit SKUs they have ordered to easily add them to a new order. And Reorder lets a buyer use a previous order as the framework for a new one, copying over all the basic information like SKUs and quantity while still ensuring changes can be made before completing the order.
  • Saved billing/shipping information: Having saved addresses, as well as payment options when relevant like credit cards, can speed up the ordering experience and get to the finish line that much faster.
  • Sales quotes: Wholesale eCommerce benefits from a quote system that allows for a draft order to be built and reviewed with buyers. Buyers can convert them to an order or request changes before placing the order. This allows for all details to be verified before an order is processed and still keeps such orders, when placed, in the order management system.
  • Salesperson apps: For those selling out in the field or working directly with buyers, a salesperson app can make it easy for a salesperson to process an order on their behalf or create a Sales Quote to generate a draft order for approval. In either case, buyers will get a confirmation email noting that their order is ready for approval or has been placed, depending on the scenario, simplifying the communication loop on orders.

Key Capabilities

A wholesale eCommerce solution should provide the following primary capabilities:

  • Catalog presentation: Be able to display information about your products, including imagery and pricing, including customizations for different customer groups.
  • Segmentation options: The ability to segment by customer type, pricing group, billing and shipping options, catalog and more. Each segmentation option lets you decide who sees what.
  • Salesperson tools: Most B2B and wholesale eCommerce businesses leverage salespeople. So an eCommerce solution should be able to support them and their activities, such as processing sales out in the field or signing on new buyers.
  • Order processing: You should be able to, even at a basic level, be able to process orders, including processing payment and posting shipping information.
  • Integrate with other systems: As noted throughout this piece, the ability to integrate with other business systems for data integrity and management benefits is a critical one for many businesses. Alternatively, strong import/export functions or other data accessibility capabilities can make things simpler when direct integrations are simply not possible with the software being used.
Learn about other B2B eCommerce features:


Training

Aside from the type of solution you select, it helps to understand what training will be required,  for your internal team and your buyers, to ensure widespread adoption to reduce reliance on less efficient forms of order placement and management.

For instance, Zoey customer Ninkasi Brewing Company prepared a training process for their eCommerce launch that included the sales team reaching out and sharing a video tutorial with their distributors. With this approach, they were able to move 95 percent of the distributors to a self-service ordering platform within a few weeks of launch.

“We found it in December; we signed on probably by the end of January. By the end of February, we had everything in there.”

– Becca Livingston, Business Intelligence Manager, Ninkasi Brewing Company</soan.


Customer Support

Finally, the support provided by a wholesale eCommerce solution will be critical to the success of getting live, and maintaining a business, on said solution. Many providers offer limited support in getting onboard, leaning totally on a set of written tutorials, which is only helpful when the problems you’re having can be solved by a write-up or short video. 

But most businesses don’t migrate to new solutions very often, so the process can be tough to navigate and complete without some hands-on support. So confirming what sort of support you’ll receive while onboarding to a new solution is an important area to confirm.

B2B ecommerce

Setting Goals and Measuring Success

There are a number of ways you can measure the success of wholesale eCommerce. These include:

  • Order frequency and/or size: Is your average order size growing? Is your order frequency growing? How much is your average buyer ordering per year? These metrics can help you confirm how a self-service solution is impacting buying frequencies and size, as well as how your salespeople are performing when they can focus on buyers that need the help.
  • Number of customers: Wholesale eCommerce tends to allow businesses to manage onboarding more buyers without needing more staff, so how’s your client base growth doing?
  • Customer retention rate: Another aspect of wholesale eCommerce that tends to favor those who adopt it are better customer retention statistics. Selling to a new buyer is five times more expensive than an existing one, and the likelihood of selling to an existing buyer is 60%, vs. 5-20% for a prospective new buyer.

Marketing Channels To Expand Wholesale eCommerce

Wholesale eCommerce needs successful marketing initiatives to build a customer base and generate additional sales. These can include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Like most websites nowadays, SEO can be an important way to gain some visibility. This can take the form of keyword optimization on your core pages, meta titles and descriptions written to highlight the focus of your pages, and getting links from reputable sites to help raise your profile in the eyes of search engines.
  • Content marketing: Content marketing can give you additional room to focus on topics relevant to your audience above and beyond the handful of keywords your site can successfully rank on without content marketing.
  • Social media: Your buyers will be on social media, even ones seen as more B2C-centric like Facebook or Instagram. So you can still use those platforms (along with the more expected B2B options like LinkedIn) to reach your customer base and potential customer base.
  • Sales outreach: Your salespeople are good at selling, and so why not use them to engage with potential new buyers online, at physical events and more? If they’re given the right tools, they can even get new buyers registered and a first order placed while on-site with them.
  • Remarketing/retargeting: Those who visit your site and don’t buy, or haven’t bought in awhile, can be reminded about you through targeted remarketing/retargeting campaigns.
  • Lookalike campaigns: If you have established buyer personas, you can also establish lookalike campaigns to go after more people that fit those criteria, and expose your brand and product lines to a larger group of people. Paired with remarketing, it can be an effective way to build your book of business.

Ready to START?

Our customer success team would love to help you find the best eCommerce business platform or order management solution or to help you expand your sales.

Fill out the form to request
a personalized demo of Zoey.

Wholesale Conversion Rate Optimization

Wholesale eCommerce tends to be more planned and deliberate than B2C eCommerce, with a research phase that precedes a purchase. Those who order on a cycle will do this periodically to make sure they’re getting the best deal. So, things like cart abandonment may not be as useful as analyzing data such as purchase patterns and history to look for when things drift from the established pattern.

Beyond that, wholesale eCommerce tends to succeed best with a shopping experience that’s as low friction and frustration as possible. This can mean some of the bulk ordering tools we outlined earlier in this article, but could also mean easy accessibility of assistance from a salesperson or customer support when a question arises. So this can encourage the use of live chat or other tools to help get a sale over the line. Some wholesale eCommerce solutions let reps log in as the buyer to review where they’re stuck and help them move forward, for instance.

One area where B2C and B2B businesses align is tracking conversions over time, using tools like Google Analytics to spot when things start to break trends in a negative way (because if they’re improving, that tends to be less problematic for all involved). The key metrics can include overall site traffic, conversion rates, the cost of acquiring customers and average order value.

Finally, while an actual purchase is one way to measure conversions for eCommerce, wholesale businesses may use other tools to lure in potential customers, everything from whitepapers to webinars about the industry they’re in. Others may offer downloadable information on their industry. So businesses also need to examine what types of conversions are relevant, and what they mean for the business.

Zoey logo 2020
Zoey logo 2020

Zoey’s Approach to Wholesale eCommerce

Zoey was built as a wholesale eCommerce solution first and foremost. Those features aren’t secondary to B2C eCommerce, inventory management or other capabilities, like many of our competitors, and we’ve been investing in a robust, flexible feature set around wholesale eCommerce for many years.

By putting these features first, you can be assured we have a mature and complete set of capabilities for managing wholesale eCommerce, both for your buyers and salespeople, and are constantly investing in improving and extending them even further.

Contact Zoey to learn more about our wholesale eCommerce solution, and how we can help your business accelerate its growth:

Wholesale eCommerce FAQs

Wholesale eCommerce is the ability to place wholesale orders at scale on a digital commerce solution built for those types of businesses specifically.

A wholesale eCommerce system centralizes orders in a single system, makes order creation and management more efficient, and shifts workflows to the Internet and out of outdated modes like phone, email, mail and fax.

B2C is optimized for smaller orders in large volumes, whereas wholesale eCommerce tends to be about large orders processed less frequently.

It is easier to create and manage orders in a single system, and one that’s optimized for those workflows, instead of more manual order capture and processing options. Data is more easily managed both in eCommerce and through other tools like accounting, CRM and ERP systems.

eCommerce reduces reliance on your team for orders that can be placed by buyers directly, puts all the customer, product and order information on a single system that’s specialized in such transactions, and reduces manual data entry and duplication through integrations that pass data along to other systems.

Salespeople should be able to create orders on the same system their buyers are doing so, to centralize that order information. This can be done through Sales Quotes, allowing draft orders to be created and approved by the buyer, as well as a salesperson app to look up information and build/complete orders.

Wholesale eCommerce sellers have a need to recruit new buyers just as much as their B2C counterparts. But, their store is often locked down to only registered buyers. So an SEO approach on the public website, along with content marketing, can overcome that hurdle.

Ready to START?

Our customer success team would love to help you find the best order management solution or ecommerce flow to help you grow and expand your sales.

Fill out the form to request a personalized demo of Zoey.
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Ready to START?

Ready to START?

Fill out the form to request a personalized demo of Zoey.