Brooklinen scales their wholesale business to new heights with B2B on Shopify
B2B and wholesale, Growth and scale
Brooklinen began in 2014 as a bootstrap operation. Founders Rich and Vicki Fulop ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign on the idea that they could sell beautiful bed sheets at an affordable price. They knew their audience because they were their audience: millennials in search of quality bed linens they could buy online. Since then—and with significant growth and scale on Shopify Plus—the brand has become an important example of a new class of direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses who appeal to digitally-native buyers.
Now the brand is looking to scale its B2B operations as more customers place large, wholesale orders. “The core of our B2B business is really the hospitality business. Right now all of that is handled offline. There’s no way for our customers to have a personalized experience like our DTC customers do online,” says Nicolas Lukac, Director of Emerging Channels at Brooklinen.
Traditional B2B selling is archaic; time-consuming, a manual process of taking orders over the phone. The Brooklinen team says they have been taking B2B orders for as long as the brand has existed, but continuing to do so manually, and ad-hoc, would be difficult to scale and bring to the success level of their DTC efforts.
Lukac added: “We weren’t customer-forward with this process. We were order-forward. There’s a lot of friction involved with that. We could be spending more time either helping our customers or acquiring new customers, so it limits the scale of our business.”
Brooklinen sought the suite of powerful, flexible features of B2B on Shopify Plus as the solution to its problem. “When Shopify announced that they were going to be releasing B2B functionality, it was really natural for us to just opt in,” says Elizabeth Bell, Director of Product Management at the brand.
While Brooklinen’s old, manual process worked, it wasn’t efficient. Customers could not serve themselves and place their own orders. With B2B on Shopify, Brooklinen created a B2B site that was just as intuitive and easy to use as their DTC site without sacrificing the complexity they needed to sell B2B.
“B2B on Shopify allows us to engage with these customers in a new way—kind of like a typical DTC customer but for B2B,” says Kelly Hallinan, Senior Vice President of Emerging Channels.
With the proliferation of ecommerce in everyday life, buyer expectations have changed and B2B purchasing is expected to be available online. With Shopify Plus, Brooklinen can remain leaders in their industry by offering personalized buying experiences adapted for the needs of each of their B2B customers.
“Now, we can see that a large hospitality group purchased from us six months ago. We know the average amount of time in between orders, and we can say, okay, we’re at that point where we can send them an email asking about placing a reorder. It’s much harder to do that without Shopify’s back end system,” says Hallinan.
With B2B on Shopify, Brooklinen added a second store exclusively for B2B buyers within the same admin they already use today. "It’s been great to have the B2B functionality in the Shopify Admin so we can use the functionality we’re familiar with to spin up our B2B site. We can have a site that looks and feels very similar to our DTC site but have it be focused on business to business,” says Bell.
Instead of placing bulk orders over the phone, B2B customers now have access to a personalized buying experience where they can place orders themselves. Customers have access to specific prices, products, and payment methods —just like they would while making any other purchase with Brooklinen.
This platform, according to Lukac, unlocks many doors for their team and how they think about the customer experience. It will also allow Brooklinen to automate back office tasks, so they can spend more time focusing on strategic initiatives to grow and scale their B2B business and less on manual work.
With Shopify Plus, Brooklinen saw results:
- Able to spend 80% of time working with customers
- Unlock self-serve for customers to manage account and orders
- Offers the same intuitive, branded buying experience for B2B customers as DTC buyers
On Shopify Plus, our team has the liberty and the space to build relationships with customers, instead of just transacting with them. We spend more time understanding our customers and less on manual inputs. This allows us to provide exceptional experiences for our DTC, B2B customers and retail customers alike.