If you’re looking to set a wholesale online store, for your clients or for your own business, there are few better options out there than WooCommerce. It’s free, open-source, and most importantly, unlike SaaS solutions, it has no monthly fees or commissions. It’s overall a fantastic choice for small and medium businesses, as well as developers and agencies.
However, WooCommerce was not built specifically for wholesale, and it lacks many important options you would look for in a business-to-business e-store. Setting up wholesale prices or wholesale registration can be difficult for example, and there are no in-built features for important aspects such as VAT number support or different prices for the same product.
There are however a number of wholesale plugins and solutions that aim to solve this problem and turn a regular B2C WooCommerce shop into one with powerful B2B capabilities. Let’s explore some of these plugins and options in this article!
Setting up Extended Business Registration
There are several reasons why a store would need extended registration functionality for business customers. The most important one is customer verification and making sure these entities are who they say they are, as well as ensuring good financial, tax, and legal standings. This is essential when dealing with large orders and it also bears huge implications in deciding whether to accept orders on credit. These kinds of challenges require a personalized and individual approach to customers.
B2BKing is a woocommerce wholesale plugin that extends registration and attempts to solve these problems. The plugin aims to be a complete business-to-business solution and introduces more than 137+ other features and functionalities, including:
- Dynamic Pricing
- Offer Bundles
- Guest Access Restriction
- Messaging System
- Invoice Payment Gateway
- EU VAT Number Support
- Payment Methods Control
- Multiple Buyers on Account
- and much more
With regard to registration, the plugin enables 9 types of custom registration fields, allowing stores to decide exactly which data they collect on registration, and also enabling a review process, through which business customers wait for verification.
Other related features include:
- VIES VAT Number Verification (through the Europa.eu API) during registration
- Tax Exemptions based on valid VAT numbers
- Ability to create any custom field and show it in registration and billing
- File upload support for licenses and documents
- Setting multiple registration roles such as “Factory”, “Reseller”, “Wholesaler”, with its own associated registration fields. The customer can choose which role they are applying for during registration.
Once a business customer registers they must (optionally based on settings) wait an initial period for verification and wait to be approved by the website administrator or store manager:
In the website’s backend, in each user’s profile page, registration data can be reviewed and a decision can be made regarding customer approval. Email notifications are also sent to all parties throughout the approval process.
If you are a developer looking to set up custom registration fields through code, there are also some great tutorials out there that show how this can be done, such as this Cloudways registration guide. As shown in this guide, WooCommerce is highly modular and extensible through its hooks and filters.
WooCommerce Wholesale Prices
While B2C pricing is simple and streamlined for all customers, when dealing with business customers, companies often need to negotiate, make deals and provide special pricing, which often include bulk discounts for high volume purchases.
This introduces a need for high flexibility, and a system that can create many custom pricing and discount setups. Other important features when discussing pricing are:
- Showing tiered pricing tables, so that customers can easily understand volume discounts
- Quote request capability, depending on how each business model works
- Value discounts
- Coupon restrictions for b2b and b2c
- Minimum order restrictions for payment methods
Such solutions must have both a simple to use backend interface, as well as a frontend display that is visual and easy to understand by customers. For example, you could display a tiered pricing table through shortcodes created by table plugins and add these shortcodes to product pages.
Alternatively, B2BKing can automatically generate pricing tables based on prices entered for a product in the backend. Moreso, each product and each variation can have a different table for each customer group, enabling a complex and powerful setup.
The plugin has a built-in price tiers system, based on minimum quantity and final price. As customers add items to cart, quantity is checked against the tiered pricing table and price is automatically adjusted in the site and in the cart.
Enable Quote Requests
Wholesale commerce relies heavily on negotiation and a personal approach to sales, so that quotes and volume purchased are big factors in determining price. Therefore a quote request system can be a critical feature.
This can be done through something as simple as a contact form, though integration with WooCommerce would be lackluster without custom programming to add the form in each product page.
For a more integrated approach, you can use a plugin such as YITH’s Request a Quote plugin. However, many critical features such as hiding prices by default are not available in the free version. B2BKing also has its own integration of quote requests, which can either completely replace the cart system, or work together with it based on settings, to provide customers with the best of both worlds.
Add a Bulk Order Form
Business customers are often ordering the same products over and over again, usually to replenish their stock. Therefore a bulk wholesale order form has become a very common feature in sites, allowing customers to order quickly and efficiently.
Important features for orders forms include the ability to search products quickly, search by SKU, as well as integrate with barcode scanners.
There are a handful of plugins on the market with this capability, such as the Order Form plugin by Ewout Fernhout which features an instant AJAX search for products.
B2BKing also has an order form implementation, which also introduces the ability to save purchase lists for later usage, so that the cart and order form can be quickly populated based on previous orders.
Enable Messaging and Negotiation
Communication between customers and the store is critical in B2B e-commerce. This can be achieved in multiple ways: traditional ways include a mixture of phone communication, business meetings and online contact forms, yet today’s rapid digital environment has created a need for better options. Live chat systems and dedicated sales agents can represent one such solution. This can work for WooCommerce stores as well and many e-stores follow this path.
Other options are plugin messaging systems, as well as email communication. An important consideration is the ability to have multiple buyers on the same account, as often companies will have multiple employees and agents in charge of acquisitions.
Hide Prices for Guest Users
The ability to hide prices until login is common in most wholesale plugins. This kind of setup can also be achieved easily through code snippets that hook into the filters “woocommerce_get_price_html” and “woocommerce_is_purchasable”. BusinessBloomer offers one such guide for hiding prices for guests through snippets.
Other options include completely hiding products or completely hiding the shop by hooking into “woocommerce_product_query”. If you are not a developer, searching for woocommerce private store plugins can also lead you to useful, free-to-use solutions.
Product Visibility and Custom Product Catalogs
Finally, customized and individualized product catalogs are the norm when it comes to wholesale e-commerce. In a WooCommerce site, this means that each individual account must be able to see different categories and different products.
Many plugins enable this through a product visibility system. Through this feature fields are added to each product page to allow visibility control based on group or based on customer.
In conclusion, the hallmark of a powerful wholesale platform is flexibility. Through WooCommerce, and an assortment of free and premium plugins and snippets, you can set this up and bring an old process and workflow into the digital age.