Whether you are a passionate vaper who is looking to make a contribution to the vaping market or are simply looking to jump on the lucrative bandwagon, this guide will explain how to How to Start a Vape Shop Online in the UK, USA or wherever you are.
Do your research into the vaping market and vape shops in your area
Before you jump into your online vape shop business, it is important to think about your motivations for starting a vape shop and the competition in your local area. Whilst it is true that your online vape shop will be available to the entire world, it pays to pick a geographical area to focus on. For example, if you have noticed that there are a lot of vapers in your area and not enough brick-and-mortar and online vape shops, it is a valid reason for starting up and online vape shop. Before thinking about opening an online vape shop, think about the basic economic principle that drives all businesses- supply versus demand. Is there a demand for e-cigarettes in your area? If so, then you could provide the supply element by establishing an online vape shop.
How will you stand out against cut-throat competition?
Online vape shops are extremely competitive simply because an online vape shop is not restricted by its geographical situs. By running a simple google search, you will notice that several vape shops dominate the e-cigarette market across various niches. In order to compete with big online vape stores, it is very important for you to have a unique selling point (USP). In other words, put yourself in the shoes of a vaper and ask the question “why should I visit this online vape shop?”. For example, a vape shop in the UK called Vape Club offers a wide selection of USA and UK premium e-liquid. So already we can see that Vape Club’s unique selling point is premium e-liquids from UK and USA. Other selling points could include free shipping, competitions, etc. In order to go a step further, try not to compete solely on generic aspects such as free shipping. Yes, customers like free shipping but this alone will not set you apart from other online vape shop businesses because most vapor stores offer free shipping. For example, you could compete by providing premium e-liquid that is not widely available at other vape shops since online vape shops have to make the decision of whether an e-liquid brand will sell. As you can see, this doesn’t necessarily signal quality. On the other hand, if you were to stock less well-known and less accessible premium e-liquid brands such as E-LUXE LONDON, MY JUICY AFFAIR and SQUARE 47, this could intrigue and drive prospective vapers to your online vape shop.
Buying your Stock: Vape Gear and E-Liquids
When starting up an online vape shop, try to think about the products you want to sell. A one-stop-shop where vapers can buy hardware, e-liquids, coils, cotton, batteries and other vaping-related products is convenient. You have to bear in mind that the more products you stock, the less focused you are. Also, vaping hardware and e-cigarettes are becoming more advanced as we write and there are always new models and versions coming out. Therefore, if you invest in too many electronic cigarettes and other hardware, you may find yourself with obsolete stock if you do not manage to sell. Whereas, e-liquid is perceived to be a safer investment because e-liquid is a bit like gas or petrol, once there, always there with the exception of the expiration date, of course. By focusing on either vaping hardware or e-liquid, it will be easier for you to stand out and gain a niche in the market. This is not to say that e-cigs are mutually exclusive from e-liquid and you can certainly sell both at your online vape shop if your budget permits you to.
Have you thought about the logistics of an online vape shop?
By selling online, you may find yourself having to post out many e-liquids and e-cigarettes to countries across the world. It is important to think whether you want to use a fulfilment company or whether you want to ship the goods out yourself. Using a fulfilment company is certainly less hassle free and more manageable. You will have to send your stock to a fulfilment company in your area and they will ship e-liquid and e-cigarettes to your customers. Fulfilment companies are generally very large, experienced and have very competitive courier rates, which you may not be able to achieve yourself. E-liquid fulfilment companies do charge a handling and packaging fee, but this is something you will incur yourself anyway and probably at a higher cost as you will not have the same economies of scale. If you want to ship your own e-liquid and e-cigarettes out to your customers, you will require a commercial unit and given that you are only starting up, this may be prohibitively expensive and not an option you may want to pursue.
Get help from your friends
It is tempting to splash out and go on a crazy spending spree when starting up your online vape shop. Stop there. There are so many things you will need that it is important to think about them first. To start your online vape shop, you will need a website, SEO experts, photographers, fulfilment service, initial e-liquid and e-cigarette stock, a logo, marketing, quality content and many other things. Speak to your friends and family to see whether any of them specialise in any of those areas. For example, if you have a friend who is a website designer, then it would be cheaper to ask them to help out on a gratuitous basis or at least at a significantly discounted price. If your siblings are studying literature at university, why not ask them to help you with your content and product descriptions. Just to put things into perspective, a good website can cost you anywhere from £300 to £5,000, which is a great expense. Equally, SEO agencies are extremely expensive and can charge anywhere from a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds a month. It is always advisable to learn the tricks of the trade yourself. If you find that you need to buy something for your online vape shop business, always do your research and compare different products on the market to ensure that you get the best deal. At the end of the day, you are running a business so take off the rose coloured spectacles and think how you can slash your start-up costs as business is exactly that.
Why not save yourself the hassle and start a franchise of our Online Vape Shop
You can always choose the easy option and simply start an online vape shop franchise with us. We have many years of experience in the vaping industry, both in the UK and internationally, which will help to ensure that your online vape shop is run successfully. By starting an online vape shop franchise with us, you will receive guidance on all pertinent aspects of running an online vape shop such as website platforms, website design, our brand, SEO, exclusive premium e-liquid collections, export markets and much more. Simply Contact us at email@example.com