The competition among e-commerce wholesale platforms is heating up – and no wonder, with the growth rate of B2B sales online predicted to reach a double-digit figure in trillions of dollars in 2024.  These sites are changing the way some buying is done in our industry, posing a threat to sales agencies, trade shows, permanent marts and the rep system similar to the challenges that retailers are facing from Amazon.

Just as we are proving there is still a market for bricks and mortar shops, we need to find a way to support our sales reps and shows while still sometimes taking advantage of online platforms. They are particularly useful in finding smaller makers and vendors that would not be able to afford to hire sales reps or exhibit at a trade show.

The newest of these B2B companies to come to my attention is Handshake.  Handshake was a New York startup that included a wholesale platform and a mobile app for sales representatives called Handshake Rep. In May, 2019 Handshake was acquired by the popular e-commerce platform Shopify, with only the wholesale marketplace component being brought forward.  Handshake now offers products from Shopify merchants that sell wholesale.

Handshake is not unlike other B2B programs, however it does have the advantage of interfacing with Shopify’s platform. According to the company, “if you’re already using Shopify, your inventory, billing, and orders will all be in the same places you’re used to.” Last November Nick Galov reported that there were over 800,000 stores using Shopify. Perhaps for this reason, Handshake is not currently offering the first time (or first year) purchase discounts that other platforms are using to draw new customers. There are currently no commission fees for selling on the Handshake marketplace, which should help the platform increase its number of vendors.

Many of the B2B platforms, including Handshake, are doing virtual trade shows this summer, which is great – but I’m so excited to be attending my first one in person later this month. There’s nothing like being able to actually see the merchandise, and talk with knowledgable sales people! 

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder

PS If you’re going to be at the Minneapolis Mart on July 31, I hope you’ll join me for a morning seminar about how to make the coming holiday season successful.