Case Study: Shopify Wholesale Beyond Brick-and-Mortar
Colletta Co-Op (130 Cole)
Colletta Co-Op is a women’s fashion wholesaler that works with several independent fashion brands and resells their products primarily through two channels: their showroom in the Design District of Dallas, Texas, and at various trade shows. They have strong relationships with their brands, as well as with their customers, and their efficiency at trade shows is very important. They took orders the old-fashioned way—with a pen and paper, copying everything to their management system later.
Colletta had started building out a small Shopify store for some of their existing customers, and wanted to expand it meaningfully, but wanted to make sure that they could manage their business, sales, and customers in a cohesive way. They already had enough headaches managing orders and fulfillment from trade shows, so Seota came in to help soothe the headache, not aggravate it.
In addition to this, they had some unique fulfillment requirements. Since all of their customers are resellers, some of the resellers would place orders in advance but did not want them fulfilled until weeks—possibly months—later.
Seota’s ultimate solution would come in two components: the website and a custom app to make managing their inventory a breeze, and streamline order-taking at trade shows.
Shopify was the best platform for Colletta’s needs, so Seota built a brand new custom theme to showcase their lines at any given time (which in the fashion industry changes regularly) to the public. We built an authentication wall that would let anyone see the fashions but ensured that only verified and approved resellers could see prices or actually check out.
Inventory had to be managed uniquely as well, since they rarely sold single articles of clothing. Almost all of their products are sold in packs, so we had to make that very clear to the purchasers; we also had to account for the occasionally broken pack or single item of apparel.
We built a custom shopping cart and checkout process which illustrated the per-pack price, the price-per-item, and the total price. Transparency was key to ensuring customer satisfaction, and solid inventory management would be doubly important when it came to trade shows.
As mentioned, customers at trade shows often want their purchase to be held and shipped in the future, just in time for Holiday, or another occasion. Colletta has fixed inventory on hand in their showroom, so this introduced an additional dimension to managing inventory. Not only did they need to know how much total inventory they had, but they also had to know how much was already spoken for, so they didn’t risk selling it online and being unable to fulfill when the fulfillment date came. This had to be managed daily because those pre-ordered fulfillment dates could come at any time.
Seota modified the inventory system within Shopify to allow the capture of those items already spoken for, and calculate a “quantity available” in the Shopify site, which is the max that could be sold, regardless of actual inventory on hand.
This worked like a charm, and allowed them to centrally manage their inventory.
Moreover, we were able to streamline their order-taking process at trade shows by making customizations in Shopify, which allowed them to take orders directly from the Shopify app in their tablet.
One important solution was our custom app which gave them total inventory visibility at the click of a button when they were on the go, speaking with customers at trade shows. Knowing “available inventory” versus “total inventory” was just as important at trade shows as in the eCommerce store, but you can’t program an inventory limit into a person at a trade show. Likewise, using a back-end order entry system is much more efficient in real-time at a trade show than the eCommerce front-end.
With our custom app, they could look up the inventory status of any SKU to see the actual “available inventory” and generate a new order for that customer right there from the inventory result page.
Likewise, we built reporting into the app to alert them when future fulfillment dates were coming up, as well as any which were past due. By integrating with their shipping process, it took guesswork and duplication about of getting their orders out the door.
Seota was able to help Colletta tackle several challenges in this solution. First, they’re able to sell online and allow interested resellers to apply for authentication. Regardless of authentication status, they can allow anyone anywhere to share the products they offer, which helps promote their business.
They have a single source of truth for inventory management, which prevents overselling, and saves time during the hustle and bustle of a trade show. They now phenomenally more time after the trade shows are over, because the orders are already captured, and they don’t need to go back to re-enter everything taken down on the paper order slips (hoping all the handwriting is clear).
The icing on the cake is that by having their inventory and sales centrally managed, they have better analytics on sales and customers, as well as more time to evaluate them… or more time to check out the latest trending fashions from New York.