What is handshake by Shopify and how can it increase your sales?

Tweet LinkedIn
Blog post

Where it all started and what do they offer

The concept of Handshake was brought to life in 2011 and due to its concept and bright future was later acquired by Shopify on May 23, 2019.

Handshake is today a B2B ecommerce platform that helps manufacturers and distributors grow their business by powering in-person and online trade.

The Handshake platform makes buying and selling simple, intuitive, and mobile due to the fact that sales representatives and their customers can rapidly place orders on any device, anywhere, anytime.

Handshake is considered to be the handpicked wholesale marketplace for one-of-a-kind brands, all brought to you by Shopify.

What is more, Handshake is where passionate business owners can meet to share and develop their unique ideas. 

The idea is to build a vibrant community, a place where brands and retailers could connect online, to buy and sell wholesale. 

Even though they’re supporting only the US market for now, it is only a matter of time before Handshake expands globally.

Moreover this platform offers their community of creators powerful tools to take their ideas and products to new audiences. 

This is all possible because the main focus is to help you navigate the world of wholesale, to reach new buyers, and take new orders. 

What makes Handshake different is that they care about your success and because they are now part of the Shopify family, they also believe in making commerce better for everyone.

What you should know if you want to make an account as a seller on Handshake

Shopify Handshake site screenshot.
Shopify Handshake site screenshot.

If you decide you want to sell on Handshake know that you can reach out to cool new stores and grow your wholesale business. 

They welcome applications from customer-focused brands who meet their minimum eligibility criteria, like:

  • You need to be established in the United States
  • Have an active Shopify store, with a history of orders 
  • You have to own the brand carried by your products – because reselling third party products on Handshake is not allowed
  • You have to sell in a category listed on Handshake
  • Your store needs to have a direct payment provider enabled
  • Your products have to comply with Shopify’s Acceptable Use Policy
  • The product images have to comply with Handshake’s Photography Guidelines.

After you submit your application their team of curators starts reviewing your application and checking out your store. 

They’ll likely get back in touch within 10 -14 business days to let you know if your application is approved.

If your application happens to be rejected, know that like any other business Handshake is continuing to develop and grow and you can try again. 

So if your ideas and the nature of your business changes in the future, and you feel that this new direction you are taking does meet their brand criteria, you’re welcome to reapply.

Selling on Handshake

After your application is accepted you will need to add your products to one of the following categories:

  • Curated Collections
  • Accessories
  • Apparel
  • Beauty
  • Foods & Drinks
  • Home & Lifestyle
  • Jewelry
  • Kids & Babies
  • Stationery
  • Pets

When everything is set up you’ll be notified by email every time you get a new order. It’ll appear in your inbox as a new order email from Shopify, just like it does with any other type of order. 

For more on all orders you received you can go to Orders in your Shopify admin. If you only want to see the orders you can use a filter if you select More filters -> Sales channel, and check Handshake.

If you are worried that the retailers will sell your products on third marketplaces know that they cannot do that. 

That is because one of the criteria for retailers buying on Handshake is that they don’t resell your products on third party marketplaces and that includes Amazon, eBay, Etsy or others.

However if you do notice that this is happening, my strong recommendation is to report it straight away on help@handshake.com.

Now if for whatever reason you want to take a break from Handshake for a while, all you need to do is simply unpublish your Handshake profile from within your Handshake sales channel. 

Do not worry your profile won’t disappear because taking a break will only mean your profile is hidden from Handshake.com but all of your settings will be saved. 

So when you are ready to come back you can do so by publishing your profile again, and you can do that at any time. 

But if you decide that you want to stop selling on Handshake altogether, what you need to do is remove it as a sales channel from your Shopify admin.

Everything you need to know about Payments

A very important thing to know when selling on Handshake is that they do not charge commission for sale and have no fees.

So once you make a sale Handshake will support direct payment providers (not external payment providers), that means that your customer completes their payment on the Handshake checkout, using a credit card.

The payment will happen immediately due to the fact that payments are instantaneous upon a retailer completing checkout with their credit card.

If you wanna know how to charge tax you should take into consideration that all orders on Handshake are tax-free as standard. 

That being said, you should also know that it’s the brands’ sole responsibility to obtain all tax exemption documents required by law to support tax-free purchases.

So, to make it clearer after a retailer places an order, and before the order is fulfilled, you can add custom charges, such as taxes, for the retailer to approve and pay. 

If you still find yourself in a fog regarding this matter see their step-by-step guide to charging custom tax.

Tips on Shipping & Returns

Since we covered orders and payment let’s move along to another subject that might interest you, shipping and returns.

You should know that Handshake doesn’t cover shipping and that is because you set your own shipping policy and rates for your Handshake orders. You can do that inside the Handshake channel.

If you are uncertain about how much you should charge and what are the steps in setting the right price for shipping you can go to Setting up shipping rates with Handshake.

Now that you are all set regarding the shipping let’s talk a bit about returns. Like shipping returns are at your sole discretion, and not handled by Handshake.

That being said, you can set your own returns policy. All you need to do is go to your Shopify admin page, once there go to Handshake > Preferences in the Shipping and Returns section and add as much detail as you can about your returns process and refund policy.  

Once you set everything up when going on your profile retailers will see a clickable Shipping & Returns link on your brand profile, and under every product description.

What you should know if you are a retailer to get started on Handshake

If you are a retailer and you want to get started on this platform, first you need to sign up as a retailer. 

In order to be able to do that you’ll need to be a US based business, as they’re only supporting the US market right now. 

Because Handshake is built by and integrated with Shopify you will need a special ID, but don’t worry, if they notice that your email isn’t linked to a Shopify ID, they’ll help you create one. 

So you do not need to open a store on Shopify, moreover know that it’s 100% free to get a Shopify ID to use with Handshake. 

To get everything in order and be able to complete your Handshake application, you’ll need to have this information about your business at hand:

  • Your store name 
  • A legal business name if it happens to be different from the store name
  • A reseller ID (also known as reseller permit, resale certificate, or sales tax ID) 
  • A valid US business address 
  • Contact details 

Once you get the job of setting your profile done and you decide that you want to shop wholesale here are the requirements you need to follow: 

  • Your shop is US based 
  • Your business has an established online store, brick and mortar store, pop-up store, or booth which is open and ready for business in the US 
  • Have a valid reseller ID (known as Sales Tax ID, Reseller Permit, or Resale Certificate in some US states), or you can provide a valid reason for not having one 
  • As a retailer you don’t sell on third party marketplaces, including Amazon, Etsy, and eBay 
  • The products you sell in your store comply with Handshake Terms of Service

As a side note you should know that it’s very important that when you sign up you provide accurate information. 

If they find missing business information, or details they can’t verify, can constitute a reason for them to disable Handshake accounts. 

The bad news is that if you are an international retailer you cannot use Handshake because for now they’re only supporting wholesale within the US, but have plans to expand to other countries and regions in the future.

If you are from the US and you applied on this platform and want to start buying products you must have a reseller ID in order to buy on Handshake. 

Depending on which US state you’re in, this ID is known as a reseller permit, resale certificate, or sales tax ID among some of the most common. 

If you are unsure about what are the steps to follow on this matter your state tax department can advise on the documents you need to do business, as requirements do vary from state to state. 

If you are wondering why this type of ID is so important you should know that it tells those interested that you’re licensed to sell to others, and can buy wholesale products without paying sales tax, because you pass the tax onto your customers. 

Moreover the great majority of wholesalers will ask to see a reseller ID before they’ll sell goods to you. 

This is due to the fact that they’re legally obliged to check whether you’re able to collect sales tax from your customers, the end users.

Tips on orders and payments

Like I mentioned above in the seller section, brands set order minimums to tell you the minimum dollar amount they require you to spend with them in a single order, in order for you to buy their products. 

Moreover brands will also choose these minimum order values themselves. But to make things a bit easier for you Handshake has built minimum order filters to help you discover products within your ideal price range.

Once you are all set up in that regard all you need to do is log into your Handshake account and start contacting those sellers that interest you. 

To contact them all you have to do is press the green “Contact supplier” button on any product page, or any supplier’s profile page. 

Once you’ve written and sent your message, the supplier will reply to you directly, by email.

After the order is placed you should also ask about how you can cancel it if needed. 

It is important to know this because every supplier brand sets their own cancelation policy, so it’s best to get in touch with them directly if you have any issues with an order you’ve placed.

Rest assured that Handshake will keep you posted on the evolution of your order process.

To accomplish that they’ll send you a series of email notifications to let you know the status of your order, that include when it’s confirmed, if it’s updated, when it ships (plus tracking code if available), and when it’s out for delivery. 

They’ll also notify you by email of cancelations or refunds or you can go see all of your Handshake orders when you’re logged into Handshake.com, by clicking Account > Orders.

If you happen to find what you need and you are ready to make the payment know that Handshake accepts payment by credit card, using a secure payment processing system chosen by the supplier.

You do not need to worry when making a payment on Handshake because they do not store your credit card information at any point in your transaction. 

Moreover everything will be handled through your chosen supplier’s secure payment provider, including card validation. All Handshakes get to do is simply approve or decline the payment.

If you happen to have any problems with your order you should get in touch with the supplier brand you bought from. 

That needs to be done because each seller has their own policies around returns and refunds, so only they’ll be able to help you.

Handshake sales channels on the Shopify App Store

Shopify Handshake buyers app screenshot.
Shopify Handshake buyers app screenshot.

See the Handshake buyers app.

Shopify Handshake sellers app screenshot.
Shopify Handshake sellers app screenshot.

See the Handshake sellers app.


So if all this information has piqued your interest and you are a US based business that wants to expand online, join the Handshake community and find the best partners to shake hands with.