Searching for the best retail and wholesale platforms can be a daunting task. There are so many to choose from. Where should you even start?
You’ve come to the right place! We’ve done the industry research for you. In this article, we’ll review our findings to help you make an informed decision.
Best Retail E-Commerce Platform
For retail, the winner is a no-brainer. Shopify has quickly taken over as the industry standard for retail sales, and with good reason. With monthly plans starting at $29/month and a 14-day free trial, it has plans for businesses at every level.
Shopify also has all the features you need to grow your retail sales, from an online storefront to the ability to manage inventory and retail orders.
Best Wholesale E-Commerce Platform
To help you make the right decision, we compared the top five wholesale e-commerce platforms against these criteria:
- Pricing: How much does it cost, and what does it include? (Number of users, for example.)
- Contracts: Does the platform offer monthly plans? Monthly is ideal, so you aren’t locked into a contract before determining if the platform is right for you.
- Features: Does it have all the features you need, such as the ability to create line sheets – the industry standard for wholesale ordering? What about end-to-end inventory and order management? Or exclusive features to increase your sales?
- Shopify Integration: You’ll want to connect your retail and wholesale sales platforms. Does the platform have a Shopify integration? You’ll save time with a seamless sales process and always have accurate product and inventory information.
Here’s what we found.
At first glance, Shopify Plus looks like a great solution. It was designed for wholesalers, large ventures, and enterprise-level shops with high demand and huge potential scalability. Buyers can buy bulk from a Shopify Plus dedicated wholesale storefront, and brands can manage wholesale and retail customers, orders, and inventory all in one place.
But while a wholesale storefront helps differentiate Shopify’s wholesale from its retail platform, it’s still missing a key feature: line sheets, the industry standard for wholesale buying. Most retail buyers expect to be able to order from a line sheet, so not having them is a significant disadvantage.
Other than the missing line sheets, Shopify Plus’ features list is impressive.
The only other caveat is price. While Shopify Plus offers monthly plans, the starting price is $2,000/month.
Bottom line: If your brand needs an enterprise-level platform, Shopify Plus is a good platform to consider. We’d still highly recommend using a line sheet builder as a necessary tool for your sales reps. If you don’t need an enterprise tier, we’d recommend another option over Shopify Plus.
Faire has become a well-known wholesale marketplace since entering the scene in 2016. For sellers, though, the reviews are a mixed bag.
Let’s start with the positives. It’s free to join, and you pay a commission only when you get an order. It also offers order and inventory management and a Shopify integration to sync product and inventory – although it does take at least a few days to set up.
One common critique of Faire is commission rates. Faire takes 25% on all opening orders and 15% on all reorders, so take that into consideration.
While Faire works as an online marketplace, it’s very limited as a sales and order management platform. Like Shopify Plus, Faire can't create and sell with digital line sheets. Without this essential feature, it can’t function as a digital sales tool for reps or in-person sales.
Also important: Faire is an open marketplace. Even people without a Faire account can see your products. Many brand owners don’t feel comfortable uploading their lines because they’re concerned about having their products copied. It’s a legitimate concern.
Bottom line: If you feel comfortable with the commission rate and open marketplace, Faire works as a supplementary sales platform; however, it doesn't fulfill the key requirements of a primary sales platform.
FashionGo is another well-known, commission-based marketplace. With rates around 5%, it has a leg up on Faire’s cost structure. But there are some caveats. You’re required to use Stripe, which adds 2.9%. And for substantial visibility, you have to bid on banners, which can cost up to $2,000 additional per month.
In other aspects, FashionGo falls behind Faire. While neither platform offers line sheets, FashionGo lacks end-to-end order management and Shopify integration. There’s no way to connect your products or inventory, further slowing down your sales process.
That said, many brands have had success selling on FashionGo in the “on-trend” apparel markets. If you’re looking for buyers in that market and can afford the extra cost of banners, FashionGo could be a good option for you.
Bottom line: FashionGo can be beneficial as a supplementary platform, but it’s not an all-in-one solution. Note that FashionGo’s commission rates are subject to increase if you sell on competitor marketplaces.
Nuorder’s sales platform fares the best thus far. It has a line sheet maker, inventory and order management, and the ability to integrate with Shopify. It offers additional features, including taking payments, integrating with ApparelMagic, an iPad app for mobile ordering, and a marketplace. But the Shopify integration isn’t pre-built and takes 2½ - 3 months to set up. Your team will need to dedicate significant time and money just to start.
NuOrder’s marketplace is also problematic. The marketplace is a free add-on for Core, Plus, and Enterprise subscribers, but it consists primarily of “brand spotlights” within product categories and “brand highlights” in its emails to buyers. It’s great if you’re a featured brand, but it’s not a true marketplace for finding new buyers.
Another downside: Pricing for Nuorder starts at $600/month and increases depending on the size and scope of your business. More importantly, it offers only annual contracts. It’s a long contract to commit to, especially since many brands have reported not being happy with the service and support once they’ve signed up.
Bottom line: Nuorder’s features are more comprehensive than the previous three marketplaces, but the long, pricey contracts and integration setup timeline leave much to be desired.
Brandboom checks all the boxes. It offers digital line sheets, end-to-end order/inventory management, and a Shopify integration with product sync, inventory sync, and the ability to export orders into Shopify. Another perk? You can quickly set up Brandboom’s Shopify integration: Import your Shopify products and sync your inventory in minutes instead of months.
Brandboom offers additional features that take your business to the next level, such as invoicing, Stripe or Paypal payments, ApparelMagic integration, a curated marketplace, and your sales rep’s secret weapon: an iPad app for easy mobile ordering, both on- and offline.
Brandboom’s Connect Marketplace uses proprietary AI to find the best possible buyers for your products based on their history, then markets your brand by promoting your presentations to them. It’s free to join, and you pay a flat marketing fee of $40 - $60 only when you get an order. Buyers and brands love it because it’s an even playing field: Big brands can’t pay more to increase their exposure.
But what about pricing plans? Brandboom offers three monthly pricing plans: a “free forever” plan, $79/month, and $149/month.
Brandboom & Shopify to the Rescue
As the only platform that checks off all the boxes (and more), we recommend Brandboom as your wholesale pick.
When you combine Brandboom with Shopify for retail, you get the industry standards: inventory tracking, order management, seamless sales processes, and much more. It’s the best of both worlds.
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