Small business owners can find themselves wearing lots of different hats in the day to day running of their business and sometimes it can be daunting to add another one to your hat rack, such as managing a wholesale website.
Having a wholesale function on your website can save you and your stockists time, but where do you start?
In this chat with Aime Cox from Studio Cotton, and Emma Bassey from Stitching Me Softly, we discuss if it's worth adding a wholesale function to your website, how to achieve this and if it can help save time. (Want to watch the video? Click HERE to catch up on my Instagram).
Studio Cotton designs beautiful and functional websites, as well as shares a plethora of fantastic tips and tricks on their blog and social media sites. They designed the Wholesale side of Emma from Stitching Me Softly's website.
Let's get in to it!
1. Emma, how long have you had your wholesale website and how has feedback been from your stockists?
Emma - After doing a few trade shows and really trying to grow the wholesale side of my business, I thought that having the wholesale website would be really useful as well, plus Aime said it'd be something that was really easy to do, and I’ve now had it for about 18 months.
Having chats with people at the trade shows, they've said that it's really useful to have direct login access, and to be able to get information about things such as stock levels, whilst being able to order at any time of the day rather than have long back and forth on large email chains.
2. Aime, what's the easiest way to create a wholesale website? Or can it be really difficult or costly to do?
Aime - There are a couple of different methods that you can go for, you can either kind bolt a plug-in onto your existing consumer website or you can build a completely standalone website just for your wholesale customers.
If you want to bolt it to your website, you’ll need to be using either Shopify or WordPress / WooCommerce.
For Shopify, Gorilla is the best wholesale app on offer, which can cost between $40 - $200 per month, which is a bit pricey. Whereas with WordPress e-commerce there are tons of options that are generally between free to $200 per year.
The other option is to build a dedicated wholesale website, but that means that you'd have to pay for two domains, two sets of posting, two sets of licensing. So I wouldn't do that if you can avoid it.
3. On your site, Emma, you went for the app plug in option?
Emma - Yes, we used the very creatively named plugin suite “The Wholesale Suite”, which allows us to create a wholesale sign-up form where you can collect all of the information you need to be able to judge your wholesale inquiries.
It creates a wholesale order form so that your wholesale customers can just order off a spreadsheet style ordering form, as opposed to having to shop around a website like a consumer, plus it can manage things like the shipping & billing details.
4. And when it comes to your stockists, do they find it easy to use? How many of them use the website versus emailing you or shopping on something like Faire?
Emma - In terms of orders, it’s probably about 50/50 come through the website and come through other channels, but once they've placed an order through another channel, I do give them the information about creating an account online.
In the back end of the website, you can set up different payment options, so I can offer got on there pay by invoice option, and I’ve enabled clear pay on there, so if there's a stockist that wants to spread out the payments then they absolutely can.
5. Aime, what would you say is important to consider regarding the user experience and what goes in to designing a successful wholesale website?
Um, and there are two kinds of complexities when it comes to uh, specific to wholesale, which is data around the product. So one thing that I forced Emma to do when we were building her website is really simplify her variations.
There's also the importance of making the T & C’s of your wholesale business - so things such as your minimum order quantities, your pack sizes, and your minimum order values - really easy to find.
6. Do you have any top tips that you could share?
Aime - Before you start take a minute with a pad and a pen and just start writing down what you actually need your wholesale website to do, whether that's Squarespace, Shopify, WordPress or something else. Each of them and the different plugins charge different amounts for different features.
Emma - I'd pay someone to do it because I'm not an expert. I'd find a web developer, or maybe even just give Aime your money!
7. How can people get in touch with both of you?
Aime - Just fill out the contact form on our website, and if it's a product that we don't already help someone sell, then we would love to help you sell more of it.
I've also got a small membership that's just 15 pounds a month called the Studio Cotton Clubhouse, where anyone can ask me website questions about seo, ux content, blogging, and literally any question about anything to do with websites. We've built a small community of business owners who provide feedback, suggestions, contacts, and it's just really handy. I brought it in because so many people have a lot of questions about websites, and not many small business owners are website design experts, so it was my way to make it really cheap for people to ask questions and get high-quality advice.
Emma - My website, which is www.stitchingmesoftly.co.uk
It was great chatting with Aime and Emma about the benefits of having a wholesale website, especially as it's something people regularly ask about in my Facebook group.
Are you new to wholesale? You don't have to go it alone; I've got plenty of resources to help, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or head over to my Instagram @small_business_collaborative and drop me a DM to find out more.