“I use Vaping as an alternative to quitting smoking. I had been smoking cigarettes for the past 8 years, and I have been trying to quit smoking for the last 3.5 years. I think, vaping is a better alternative to smoking cigarettes and helps you quit faster.”– Allen, U.S.A. Citizen
Just like Allen, millions of people are turning towards E-cigarettes and vaping products to quit smoking. There are various other reasons why the vaping industry is growing at a rapid rate. According to the latest statistics from the WHO, the number of vapors has grown from 7 million in 2011 to 35 million in just 7 years.
For a business head, it’s a great opportunity to start a vape shop online and sell various vaping products. But when it comes to E-cigarettes and vaping, there are some special rules involved. This article purely talks about how to start an Online Vape Shop, and what are the things you should keep in mind before starting your own store.
It’s a complete guide for entrepreneurs who want to start a new venture. So, we have divided this article into seven main parts. You can directly jump into the section you would like to read:
- Understanding Vaping Industry
- Products You Can Sell On Online Vape Store
- Policies For Vaping Industry
- Tax Scenario in States and Cities of the United State
- How To Start A Vape Shop Online?
- How To Market Your Online Vape Shop?
- Things To Take Care On Your Online Vape Store
First, let’s understand the process of how to start your online vape shop.
1. Understanding Vaping Industry
Before jumping into all the ‘hows and whats’, it is very essential to understand the terms that are involved in this business. Vaping is a very huge but specific industry, and understanding of these terms can also help you choose what products you can sell on your online vape shop.
E-liquids or E-juice
Vaping usually works by heating the liquid that is known as E-liquid or E-juice to produce a vapor that user inhales using various devices. E-liquid is one of the basics of the vaping process and almost all the vape stores sell it.
E-cigarettes & Vape Pens
E-cigarettes and vape pens are the devices used to contain E-liquid and heating mechanism. Their names suggest their shapes and these are the two widely popular mechanisms vapers use these days. These devices can be your options to sell on your online store as well.
Vape Mods and Tanks
Vape mods and tanks are complicated versions of vape pens where users manually fill the liquid in the tank and there are various controls on the device to control heat, fire, and liquid flow. Of course, this is a potential product to sell on your platform.
Rebuildable (RBA) Coils
Passionate vapors like to fix their own coils rather than the one already installed in the device. For this, one needs a metal wire, cotton, and compatible tank. This is a very specific product and you can definitely include this in your vape store.
Statistics on Vaping & E-cigarettes
Now that we know all the basic terms, it is important to go through some statistics. Every business initiative needs solid industry research and the following points can be very useful. These statistics show the rise of vaping and E-cigarettes use in the U.S. Have a look:
- By 2021, adults who use vaping products will reach up to 55 million.
- Global vaping products market is estimated to worth $22.6 Bn from $4 Bn in just five years.
- The USA, Japan, and the UK are the three biggest consumers of vaping products in the world.
- The rate of adults using vape product increased from 2.4% (Year 2012) to 5.2% (Year 2015) in just three years.
According to a survey conducted by Ernst & Young, there are 5 main reasons why people vape:
- Less harmful than cigarettes.
- Helps cut down smoking.
- Doesn’t bother other people.
- Fewer places ban vaping.
- Variety of flavors.
Retail Breakdown of Vaping Products
Vaping products are usually sold in convenience stores, gas stations, pharmacies, tobacco shops, etc. Online selling is another famous source for buying vape products. Here’s the percentage breakdown of vaping products by buying sources:
- Vape stores: 36.4%
- Convenience stores, food & drug stores: 31.8%
- Online stores: 31.8%
But now the online exposure is constantly increasing, there will be major changes in the buying behavior and there’s a lot of potential for online stores out there.
2. Products You Can Sell On Online Vape Store
As an online store for vape products, you have certain product options for selling. These are the products you’ll usually find on any online vape store. That means you can cover each one of these products on your store as well:
- Vape Pens
- Batteries for mods
- Replacement glass for tanks
- Covers for vaping devices
- Wires and cotton kits
3. Study Policies For Vaping Industry
Sure, the vaping industry has a strong potential, and it’s just a straight fact that there is a high demand for all such products. But, this business sets itself apart from other businesses because of its relationship with the FDA.
Since E-Liquids contain a certain percentage of nicotine, it has been dropped into the category of “tobacco products” by the FDA. Even though not all the E-liquids contain nicotine, it has become a necessity for any manufacturer or supplier to take several permissions from the government.
Because of its linking with tobacco products, it is a family health issue according to the US government and there are age restriction laws and special permissions involved to run and market this business.
Just like every other business, vaping business has a few hurdles and it is important to understand FDA regulation for vaping products in depth. A question may arise, what are FDA Regulations? Let’s have a better understanding of it in detail.
FDA Regulations – are a set of laws that takes keen care about the health of the citizens. Similarly, for the health of the US citizens, the FDA finalized a new rule in 2016 that says:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently finalized a rule that extends its regulatory authority to all tobacco products, including E-cigarettes, cigars, and hookah and pipe tobacco, as part of its goal to improve public health.”
With this rule, FDA extended the authority to regulate all the tobacco products including E-cigarettes, Hookah, all kinds of cigars, nicotine gels, electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDs).
According to FDA, any manufacturer or supplier who is involved with such products have to display health warnings on the products as decided by the regulations. Manufacturers or sellers who are involved with such products using online platforms also have to showcase the health warnings.
Manufacturers of E-cigarettes have to submit their products to the FDA to receive the permission to sell them and the administration will closely evaluate various factors.
Factors FDA will look into:
- Product design
- Health risks
- Product appeal to users and non-users.
E-cigarettes and vapor products are comparatively less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but because of this rule, the production & marketing of such product is still subjective to health.
State Wise Regulations in the USA
Talking about selling E-cigarettes and vapor products in various states of the United States, they are following the regulations from August 2016 after the FDA new rule that we discussed. Although various states have a slightly different take on this matter.
- Maryland, New Jersey, Minnesota, Kentucky, New Hemisphere, Utah, Wisconsin, Tennessee, and Colorado have restricted these products to minors.
- Several states have increased the legal age of smoking to 21.
- Several states have increased the tax of E-cigarettes as to tobacco products.
- Some states have extended their smoking bans and included E-cigarettes into it.
International Policies For E-cigarettes and Vapor Products
Every country is reacting differently on this issue but these can be divided into the following two points:
- Out of 90 countries surveyed in 2016, 25 countries banned E-cigarettes completely, 17 countries require premarket authorization before selling such products, and 35 countries have allowed the sales but not to market such products.
- European Union has set up separate standards for E-cigarettes where nicotine percentage cannot exceed more than 2. Also limiting the tank size to be maximum of 2 mL.
To sum up, regulations on E-cigarettes and vapes are still a big gray area. There’s a lot of research going on right now on the long-term health effects of vaping products. In order to start a vape shop online, you need to understand which country allows the use of vape products and at what level. Moreover, it is very crucial to know which states and cities are best for delivering vape products.
That would be our next subject to discuss.
4. Tax Scenario In States And Cities Of The United State
As we discussed, the taxation scenario is different in all states of the United States. To start an online vape shop, you must figure out which states are the best for your business. Moreover which cities, in particular, can give you more profits. To jump on this conclusion, we need the following data:
- The state of Nevada will impose a tax of 5% per fluid millimeter on any nicotine liquid products.
- Minnesota bid the highest tax of 95% on E-cigarettes and vape products. On the other hand, California will tax the lowest of 27% on wholesale.
- District of Columbia charges 65%.
- Talking about the worst cities for vaping, Chicago, Boston, and Minneapolis tax the highest percentage. In Chicago, combustible cigarettes are literally banned, and there is an 80% tax on vaping units. Whooping 75% tax on 1 millimeter of nicotine fluid. In Boston, vaping is pretty much banned where smoking is restricted. There are no taxes at this moment but there will be soon. In Minneapolis, vaping is costlier than cigarettes with a 95% tax on wholesale price.
- Talking about the best cities for vaping, Virginia Beach VA, Tucson, and Phoenix are three favored choices. Talking about Virginia, it has no city taxes on liquid nicotine products. E-cigarettes are banned in some parts of public transport. Tucson and Phoenix have no taxes or regulations when it comes to vaping products. These could be a target audience for you if you would like to start a vape shop online.
5. How To Start A Vape Shop Online?
Too much data till now, isn’t it?
Well, vaping is a serious issue at this moment and there are deviating laws for each city and state, as we’ve seen. But if you think, there’s still a lot of potential for this business in many countries, just like we do, this is the section you should keep on reading.
We will be talking about how to start an online vape shop and the platforms you can use. You can refer to our previous article on the best eCommerce platforms to start an online store, but specifically for the vaping industry, we suggest these 3 eCommerce platforms.
Let’s have a close look at all three platforms and pick the right one for you.
BigCommerce is one of the fastest growing eCommerce platforms in the world right now. It is best known for its superb themes and flexibilities it offers to the customers. BigCommerce can be the best option for you if you wish to start a vape shop online. It offers the right tools and features to run a business smoothly with minimal costing.
Many businesses are running a successful online vape shop using BigCommerce, and one such example is Veppo. In this case study by BigCommerce, Veppo admits that BigCommerce has helped the business save a lot of cost and customer service time.
These are the areas where BigCommerce can offer benefits to online vape stores:
- Offers high-quality themes for this business category.
- Built-in accurate inventory management system.
- Automatic customer credit system.
- Strong back-end facilities to track orders and sales data.
- Product Reorder feature to facilitate users to order the same products again and again (which usually happens with vapers).
- Built-in coupon systems and subscription systems.
- Offers integrations with Payment gateways that allow transactions on vaping products.
You can check out the collection of BigCommerce themes by PSDCenter. Many vape shops are currently using these theme, and you should definitely check them out for future reference.
BigCommerce and Shopify have been in a close competition for a long long time now. We have thoroughly discussed each and every aspect of both platforms in our previous article, you can refer to this article to understand why they are often compared.
Shopify is also one of the leading platforms when it comes to starting an online store for vaping. Unlike BigCommerce, Shopify is mostly depended on external apps and add-ons. But, it has covered all the facilities to run a vape shop. There are lots of success stores where Shopify has helped businesses to start a vape shop online and provide every tool needed.
Here’s how Shopify can help you if you choose to go with it:
- Just like BigCommerce, Shopify also has a wide range of themes & templates.
- Shopify has a simple drag-and-drop interface that takes care of all the factors of running a business.
- For every operation, Shopify has a wide range of apps & integration to rely upon.
- It also provides enough payment gateway integrations for vaping product transactions.
- Shopify offers great customer service, no matter which niche you’re in.
You can see why people often compare BigCommerce and Shopify, they both are great eCommerce platforms, especially when it comes to starting an online vape shop.
Just like BigCommerce, we have developed a couple of Shopify themes as well. If you’re curious about starting a vape shop with Shopify, don’t miss to check out themes from PSDCenter.
Vaping is one of the fortes of 3dcart. It offers a special set of features when it comes to selling vape products & E-cigarettes. 3dcart also provide a wide range of themes that you would love to use on your online vape shop.
Here are some features that 3dcart offers when it comes to vaping:
- Age verification option to warn visitors according to the FDA rule.
- Save yourself from the hustle of calculating taxes for all the states & cities, 3dcart does that for you.
- Great content marketing features to promote your blogs.
- Product review features for the customers.
- A suite of tools to track your business sales.
- Great support system for the users.
Make sure to check out our collection of premium themes for 3dcart.
6. How To Market Your Online Vape Shop?
Now we know, there are some frictions involved in marketing E-cigarettes and vapor products. But there are certain ways where you can promote your online vape shop, and this section is all about it. Sure, on popular advertising platforms like Google Ad, you can’t promote E-cigarettes and tobacco products.
But here we have 9 smart ways to market your products and online shop. Well, communities help a lot, and the vaping community is massive.
That’s our best advantage for vaping products marketing!
By following the logic, you can promote at every place where passionate vapors talk, discuss, and ask questions. Check out the marketing techniques for vaping products:
A. Organic Search
Advertising using Google Ad is not possible but there are tons of searchers who use Google Search Engine every single day to find & buy vape products.
You can optimize your online vape shop for such keyword to grow your organic presence. Sure, it’s a time tracking process, but SEO usually has sweet long-term benefits. Content is one of the biggest factors when it comes to SEO, so make sure to include high-volume keywords in your product pages.
Just like Google Ads, you can’t promote E-cigarettes and vape products on Facebook Ads. But you can still create a Facebook company page and connect with the community groups on Facebook.
There are numerous groups where passionate vapors join and talk about new products and vaping methods. In fact, vaping has become an art where professional vape artists show their skills. You can promote your new products in such groups and communities.
As we know, Reddit is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world. When it comes to communities, Reddit has so many groups/communities with thousands of subscribers where you can get involved and market your store.
For every genre, there are publications, and the same goes for vaping as well. You’ll have many options to market your online store using both – online & offline magazines. Here are some reputed magazine options:
- Vape Magazine
- Vapour Magazine
- Vaping Underground
YouTube is a big platform for vaping products. Here, everyone related to the vape industry come and connect. As a business, you can start your own YouTube channel and create interesting videos of your own. You can also collaborate with famous Vape YouTubers to promote your products. Just like this famous YouTuber, Ryan Hall promotes products on his channel:
Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms with 1 billion users worldwide. To be honest, it has become an integral part of people’s lives. Instagram has a lot of opportunities to gain followers and also promote your product. For instance, German Vape promotes various products on its page and has thousands of followers.
G. Chase The Cigarette Quitters
As we know, vaping is a safer alternative for those who are trying to quit cigarettes. You can find various groups, communities, and chat groups where such discussions are happening and market your products. You can show the positive sides of vaping compared to smoking and gain a lot of visitors to your online vape shop.
H. Vape Expos
This one’s big!
Every year a lot of expos take place where a large part of vaping communities gather. This would be your golden chance to market your online store and propose various offers to new customers.
7. Things To Take Care On Your Online Vape Store
There are certain things you should take care of according to FDA rules when you kickstart your online store for E-cigarettes and vape products. As we know by now that health is a very critical issue for the US government, so you have to make sure that all the visitors are above the official smoking age and are adults. Apart from that, you need to make sure all the buyers get the right information on your product page.
Here are some things, you need to keep in mind:
1. Age Verification
Above, is one of the samples of age verification popup that you need on your store. This popup verifies the age of the visitors and then only it allows them to access your store. For different states, there are different criteria for the smoking age. You have to make sure that your age verification matches with the location. This is a very important issue for the visitors, as well as for you as a business.
AGE VERIFICATION POPUP
2. Warning On Products
It is mandatory to display the health warning on both – online product card as well as actual product packaging. If you’re not a manufacturer, you just need to make sure there’s a warning on all the products, just like in the image above.
3. Product Page
It is important to write down the basic information of the product like ingredients, nicotine percentage, flavor details, manufacturer details, tax details according to location, etc. on your product pages.
As we discussed, it is next to impossible in some states to sell vape products. You have to display the availability of the product according to the location. You would also have to clear all the doubts of visitors regarding taxes and shipping charges to state wise.
It is important that buyers make an informed purchase. But more importantly, there are legal issues involved with vaping products, and you surely want to take care of them.