If you’re thinking about starting a vape shop like E-Cigarette Empire, you’re potentially about to enter one of the world’s most exciting industries. You’ll be selling a product that’s likely changed your life if you’re a former smoker, and the products you sell will have that same effect on your customers. Vaping has the potential to be one of this generation’s biggest public health wins, and running a vape shop also has the pleasant side effect of very high profitability if you’re successful. There’s no guarantee of success, though, or everyone would own a vape shop. So, what are the things you should know about before you begin? These are the biggest challenges of starting a vape shop.
Deciding Between an Online or Brick-and-Mortar Vape Shop
The most important decision you’ll make when starting a vape shop is the choice between an online vape shop and a brick-and-mortar store. You can do both, of course, but it’s usually better to make sure that you’re doing a good job of serving one market before you expand. Starting a brick-and-mortar shop will require a bigger startup budget because you’ll need to pay for your product stock and for the storefront itself. You may also need to hire employees. There are smokers everywhere, though, and your potential customer base is enormous if your city isn’t already served by a vape shop.
Starting an online vape shop, on the other hand, usually requires a much smaller initial investment. You might incur some development expenses when building the website, but you don’t necessarily have to buy and stock your own products because you can use a third-party drop shipper for order fulfillment. The downside of running an online vape shop, though, is that you won’t just be competing with one or two other vape shops in your neighborhood; you’ll be competing with hundreds of online vape shops around the country. It’ll be much more difficult to attract consistent business.
If you own a vape shop in the United States, you’ll be selling tobacco products from a legal standpoint. You’ll, therefore, need to comply with laws that govern how you can display, advertise, and sell those products. These are just a few of the things you’ll need to do to keep your shop in full compliance.
- You’ll need to comply with minimum age requirements. The minimum age to buy vaping products is 18 years according to federal law, but many states and cities have higher minimum ages.
- You’ll need to check the customer’s ID every time you make a sale. If you have a brick-and-mortar vape shop, you’ll need to train your employees to do the same. If you have an online vape shop, you’ll need to use an age verification service. Authorities will check to ensure that you’re in full compliance.
- All states have laws about how you can display vaping products. Unless you’re checking ID at the door, you usually need to display vaping products under glass cases or behind the counter.
Getting the Word Out
Running a vape shop isn’t like running other types of companies because there are strict limitations on what you can do to advertise your business. If you’re running an online vape shop, you can’t advertise on major websites like Google and Facebook. If you’re running a brick-and-mortar vape shop, local laws may prevent you from using billboards, newspapers or radio for marketing.
Word of mouth is one of the most important forms of marketing for brick-and-mortar vape shops. If you do a great job of serving your customers, they’ll tell others. You should do everything possible to encourage repeat business; starting a customer loyalty program is a great way to do that.
If you’re starting an online vape shop, keep in mind that you have one potentially valuable advertising vehicle in other vaping websites. Sites that cover vaping news and reviews earn their money from displaying advertisements and will be happy to accept ads from companies like yours. In addition, one of the best ways to get the word out about your online vape shop is simply by writing great content. Do you know how to help a person have the best possible vaping experience or to fix common problems with vaping devices? Write about common vaping problems and solutions. Share your knowledge and experience. If your content is great, people will find you.
Stocking the Right Products
One of the most challenging aspects of running a brick-and-mortar vape shop is the fact that you can’t make a sale if you don’t have the product that a potential customer wants. Therefore, you need to invest heavily in inventory before you can even get started. Choosing the right products is incredibly important because dead inventory earns you no money and stifles your cash flow.
One thing that you can do is visit other local vape shops and see what they’re selling. You’ll get some ideas that way, but you shouldn’t just copy what your competitors are doing because that’ll lead to a lack of differentiation between your vape shop and theirs. To select the right products to stock, you’ll need to use your intuition and do a bit of research. What’s going to be the next hot vaping product? Reading discussion groups on Reddit and watching vaping videos on YouTube may provide some clues.
If you’re running an online vape shop, you’ll face the same challenge if you buy and stock your own products – but you can alleviate the challenge somewhat if you use a drop shipper for order fulfillment. When you connect your site to a drop shipping service, your website will transmit the required information to that service each time you make a sale. The drop shipper will fulfill the order from its own warehouse. The benefit of using a drop shipper is that you don’t need to stock your own products or package your own orders. The drawback, though, is that you obviously need to pay for that service. You can’t price your products quite as competitively if an outside company is fulfilling your orders.