How to Create a Website for Wholesaling
Why Have a Wholesale Website?
As a new, or smaller, producer you need to find an edge over your competition. Learning how to create a website for wholesaling your products on the internet is one way to create that -- maybe one of the best ways. Fortunately, it's gotten a lot easier. The internet is one of the few playing fields where any size company can compete on relatively equal footing. The web does not discriminate based on size, location, ethnic background, educational level, or age.
However, keep in mind that wholesale websites require key differences compared to retail sites that sell one-sies and two-sies to end consumers. The marketing, and types of pages, are much the same, but those pages need a very different focus on how and what you talk about, and how products are sold and described.
And perhaps the biggest secret (and advantage) of wholesale websites, is that most of the retailers who buy online through this venue, prefer to pay with a CREDIT CARD (even if you offer Net 30) - very nice for cash flow!
Options for Retail Buyers to Find Your Wholesale Information
Operating a basic primary ecommerce website is important for selling your products at retail (direct to end consumers). Retail pricing is where you get the best margins. Even though you are targeting retail customers, wholesale buyers will also find you there, and may call or email you for wholesale information. Of course, you CAN make it easier for them, by pointing them to your wholesale information when they arrive at your retail site.
If your retail website is already up and running, there are three options for listing and/or referring buyers to your wholesale products:
1. HARD COPY WHOLESALE INFORMATION WITH WEB LINK: Add a link on your retail site, to where retailers may download a wholesale Registration Form to fill out and submit, so they qualify as a wholesale buyer. After they submit the form, you then fax, mail, or email (a PDF attachment, normally) your wholesale price sheet, terms, and other information.
2. SPECIAL WEBSITE SECTION: In this option, you will add an entire section to your retail web site, with a page button that says "WHOLESALE" or "Wholesale Information". When a wholesale buyer clicks to that page, they will get a password-protected log-in screen. Instructions will point them, again, to a buyer registration form they must submit to you.
3. SEPARATE WHOLESALE WEB SITE: For this (best) alternative, offer a button, link, or special wholesale page on your retail web site, which directs wholesale prospects to your second, and wholesale-only, website. The first thing they see is the home page, with a keyword rich heading and description of what you offer to retailers. If a browser tries to click on a product page, or navigate around the site too far, a log-in page will pop up, and again, they are directed to register as a retailer. And just like you did for the special web site section in #2, above, you send them back a username and password.
Which is Better ...
.... Separate Websites or Separate Section of Retail Websites?
It may seem like a lot of extra work to put up an entirely different web site, for your wholesale business, but there are SEVERAL reasons this is a good idea.
1. Your wholesale customers get a sense that you are more serious about serving their needs.
2. A wholesale website is best served with keywords and keyword phrases which are not as applicable to your retail site. Google and other search engines are about NICHES, and a wholesale web site and a retail web site are MUCH easier to rank high in the search engines, separately, than with a hybrid site that tries to do both. Your wholesale site, in particular, will suffer without a completely separate, and SEO-friendly, set of keyword phrases that include the word "wholesale".
3. Most shopping cart platforms do not allow you to offer "dual pricing". In other words, if you use a separate wholesale section on the same web site, your retail pricing and wholesale pricing conflict. You can't do both unless you redo all the product descriptions and photos with different stock numbers ... which wipes out a major advantage of keeping both wholesale and retail on the same web site.
4. Products on a wholesale site are typically sold in case lots (rather than single units), and are sales tax exempt for legitimate wholesale buyers. This creates more conflicts in the programming, when you try to sell both sales taxable and non-taxable on a catalog site, to the same state. Some technologies can do this. For others, it's additional programming.
5. Because shipping is always integrated with the shopping cart, shipping options must be the same for both wholesale and retail. We've found, through a lot of trial and error, that optimal retail and wholesale shipping should be handled quite differently. While you CAN treat them the same, it invites problems.
6. Building a second website is not that much work, if you learned how to build and maintain the first one. However, if you are using a service provider or hired "webmaster" to build and maintain your retail site, then the expense factor does kick in, of course, for a second site. But may still be justified.
Building Your Wholesale Website
Sections and Pages You Will Need
A wholesale-only website offers all of the same sections as a retail website, PLUS an additional section or two specific to wholesaling. Most important, however, is to understand that your audience is different. Following are tips, information, and recommendations I learned while developing my own sites:
1. KEYWORD and KEYPHRASE RICH. Keywords are words or phrases people enter into a search engine to find what they're looking for on the Internet. Each word or phrase is a completely different search. To attract these free "lookers", make sure your "copy" or selling verbiage, includes the most relevant words and phrases your wholesale customers are likely to type in.
2. HOME or 'WELCOME' PAGE. Since this is the first page most buyers see, you need to explain immediately that you are a wholesale web site selling products only to verifiable retailers. Be sure to offer a link to your retail web site, to serve the many consumers who may bump into this site as well. Make you home page keyword rich!
3. 'ABOUT' PAGE. This page is important for telling your story and creating a personal perspective about you and your business. A bit of history and background to your company changes buyer perception about you from an unknown, faceless, cyber-entity into a real person and enterprise on the web.
4. "HOW TO USE THIS SITE" PAGE. Newcomers will need a place where you explain how to access the site by registering, and using the password system.
5. BUYER REGISTRATION and PASSWORD REQUEST FORM. This is where newbies may download, or fill out online, a registration form qualifying them as a legitimate retailer.
6. PASSWORD PROTECTION: In order to eliminate access to wholesale pricing by the casual consumer, pages containing wholesale pricing (and perhaps pages describing products, terms, and shipping), should require a password before opening. If a buyer tries to click on any password-protected page without logging in, a log-in form comes up.
7. CONTACT PAGE. A page listing multiple ways to contact you is not only good business, but increasingly required by credit card companies in order for you to get a merchant account.
8. PRIVACY PAGE: Very important. Not offering a privacy page which outlines your policies, can affect your Google rankings, your ability to get a merchant account, and you sometimes even lose sales. Check out any of the millions of good privacy statements and policies on the internet.
9. "HOW TO ORDER" PAGE. Offers an overview of the ordering process on the web site. Be as detailed as possible, anticipating every problem. If a customer becomes confused, they are often GONE!
10. "PAYMENT OPTIONS" PAGE. Explains in detail the payment terms you offer retailers who order on the web site (which may be different than terms for stores you call on). Examples of these terms include: VISA/MasterCard, Net 30, Check)
11. "SHIPPING INFORMATION" PAGE Describes what carrier you use, how shipping is charged, how long until orders typically go out, choice of shipping carrier are available to the customer (e.g. FedEx or UPS?), and where to call for special considerations, such as expedited delivery.
12. GUARANTEE PAGE: Required by most companies to get a merchant account. While unconditional money-back guarantees (including the shipping fees, one way) are good business, you need to include a time limit. Anything you can do to reduce buyer apprehension is a good idea, and a clear, and generous, return policy helps.
13. DETAILED FAQ PAGE: Format for an FAQ page is to type a "typical" customer question in bold, and then provide a detailed answer in regular type. (Hence the name, FAQ = frequently asked questions.) Any details not covered in other sections, include here. And when you get the same question from multiple customers, either add a clarification on the appropriate web page, or put in another FAQ.
14. PRODUCTS: You may list, even describe, these in the general access area, if you do not include pricing. This helps with SEO. A page like this is also a good place for linking to your retail web site, one more time.
15. REPS: Including a list of reps on your web site enhances your image, makes your reps feel appreciated, and helps them do their job.
PUT THE PAGE BELOW ONLY IN THE PASSWORD PROTECTED SECTION OF THE WHOLESALE WEB SITE
16. PRODUCT ORDERING PAGES . The "catalog" area, where products and descriptions, with pricing, are integrated with the shopping cart system, should go inside the password system. And remember, PRICING AND ORDERING IS NOW IN CASE LOTS!!!, rather than single units.
Would You Like to Visit My Wholesale Website? - My repping business is now all online!
- Idaho Gifts Wholesale
I have built and maintained a wholesale only website since early 2004. Built to compliment my Idaho Gifts Wholesale business, it now has become the main force behind my repping business. You can view the main part of the site, but remember, the prici
Do you Have a Website?
Do You Have a Website for Your Products?
Tools to Help You Build Your Website(s)
After nearly ten years of building and maintaining several different websites, I have found several tools to help make this process easier.
Registering Your Domain Name (or URL)
Many hosting companies include a free domain registration with your account, but recommend against it. If you run into issues with the web host, some are known to hold your own domain in hock. Regardless, if you are going to register a domain, we recommend the leading domain registrar, the "grand daddy" of them all: GoDaddy
CATALOG Template E-commerce Web Sites
For building a catalog-style product website (retail or wholesale) with an easy to follow template, including integrated shopping cart, and real-time credit card processing capacity (you still need a separate merchant account), we recommend two different website builders.
NEW WEBSITE FOR ADDING BOTH RETAIL AND WHOLESALE PRODUCTS: 3DCart -- because it does the following:
o Allowed us to use different shipping methods for retail and (much heavier) wholesale orders.
o Aggregated products into case lots for wholesale.
o Allowed for MINIMUM orders on wholesale.
o Cleanly separated access to product pricing levels by category of customer.
And for the ultimate in a catalog website, built specifically to optimize Internet Marketing opportunities, including a bunch of whizbang analysis tools, we like: SiteSell SiteBuilder
Email Marketing Software
After your website is set up, collecting email address of your customers and potential customers is the most important task in marketing your business or products. There is several different email marketing software programs to choose from. Mail Chimp, which is free, may be a good option to start.
The best program which offers many different email templates and options to make you email marketing look very professional is: AWeber
Over the years, we've used four different merchant account providers, before settling on one that is not out to screw people. Good service, low rates and interfaces with the internet as well as a swipe machine. Anyway, we LOVE this program for accepting credit cards: PowerPay
Resources on Building Websites
Interested in More Information on Creating Websites for Wholesale
Our Complete Guide to Selling to Gift Shops includes a wonderful bonus book on Websites for Wholesale!
In this value-packed resource, you will also find HUNDREDS of practical tips, techniques, stories, and how-to tactics that REMOVE the fear and anxiety from walking into (or contacting) a gift shop and asking a buyer or manager to carry your line.
What You Will Find in the Complete Guide to Selling to Gift Shops
- WHOLESALE PRICING
- FINDING GIFT RETAILERS
- THE SALES PRESENTATION
- TAKING WHOLESALE ORDERS
- WHOLESALE DELIVERY SYSTEMS
- OFFICE OPERATIONS
- WHOLESALE MARKETING SPECIAL TOPICS
- AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!
Also, we have included the following bonus list:
- WEBSITES FOR WHOLESALING E-BOOK
- Sample Invoice (matched to packing slip)
- Sample Packing Slip (matched to invoice)
- Sample Trade Credit Application
- 2 Sample Sales Flyers
- Consignment Agreement
- Consignment Made Easy! mini eguide
Websites for Wholesaling
Malcolm and I wrote another very informative 27-page ebook on the topic of "wholesale" web sites. The reason? The tactics and technology of a site used to sell wholeale to retailers are different than for a standard ecommerce site selling to consumers.
With this additional bonus resource you may start leveraging key opportunities to expand beyond your direct selling efforts into the ONLINE environment. When you are ready to sell wholesale with a website, this will get you started! Increasingly, gift shop owners prefer to order online, without playing phone tag, or wading through your note taking over the phone.