How to set up an Online Vape Store
Are you looking to set up an online vape store? The great news is that you’re looking at a growth market and a product which has attractive margins. Even better, it lends itself perfectly to an e-commerce model, meaning that you can set up a successful vaping store from scratch and with minimal capital if you have the desire and ambition to succeed.
The real art of building a sustainable and profitable business will lie in continuing to learn new skills, refining your model, listening to customers and always seeking to offer the best possible experience.
Decide upon your Business Model
Firstly, will you just have an e-commerce store? Or, will you also plan to have a high-street or pop-up retail shop presence? Some entrepreneurs will prefer to blend their approach. Others will be drawn to the immediacy of having a physical premise in an area of heavy footfall. Those with a pure-play digital focus will prefer the low overheads and unlimited reach which comes with an online e-commerce model.
If you do have an online retail shop then you need to also consider your fulfilment strategy. Will you use a warehousing system and liaise with individual suppliers to fulfil customer orders or will you choose a dropshipping approach? With the former, you benefit from higher margins but have to deal with different suppliers directly and need to hold stock yourself – which can be expensive and comes with its own risks. On the other hand, with a dropshipping model, the margins are much lower and there are risks that come with bogus outfits and poor service.
Whichever approach you eventually choose, it’s essential to do your research carefully so that you are certain of your final decision and the pros and cons that come with it.
Create your website
It’s easy to build a website with a template builder and then choose a plug-in e-commerce provider which uses recognised payment gateway software and payment methods that customers prefer, such as Paypal. Good systems include WordPress with Shopify e-commerce plug-ins. These are known across the world and are well supported so that you can build a high-quality web presence using attractive templates. Once live, you can easily test and refine your website, adding fresh content and testing it for accuracy and the best possible user experience.
Invest in SEO
Search Engine Optimisation is vital to the success of your e-commerce site. Optimising for organic search will require that you identify and use the right keywords, create quality content, register for local search, secure some good quality backlinks and maintain a well ordered and structured website. This is an area to learn more about and there are plenty of resources and content online to help you to up your game.
Market your product
Social media is the obvious route to market but you should also collect customer data and consents so that you can send regular emails to your customer base with offers and news. Equally, you should aim to get phone numbers and consents for mobile marketing. The more channels you can market through, the easier it will be to share your message and to market without needing to spend a lot of money. Remember that your marketing messages should be relevant, appealing and add value to your recipient’s lives. Try to personalise these using an email marketing system and tell them about products and offers that meet their interests.
Know your brand
Will your vaping brand be everyday, fun and accessible – or high-end and aspirational? Avoid going for the deep discount approach as it only becomes a race to the bottom for cost and leaves you without a margin. Instead, aim for a profit margin of about 50% on sales and look for a higher end and more exclusive brand which encourages your customers to buy into the aspirational image of vaping and which offers high-quality products at competitive prices. A wide product range, great customer reviews, quality products and accessories can help you to maximise your sales. Excellent service will also help to build your brand and reputation and encourage customer loyalty.
Know the regulations
The Tobacco Product Directive governs the way in which tobacco products- including vaping products – can be marketed and sold. Familiarise yourself with these rules and follow them closely. For example, the directive governs the size at which vaping products can be sold and also the marketing messages that can be used in advertising. Failure to follow these laws can lead to hefty penalties. There is plenty of detailed information online, and it is beholden on vaping manufacturers and suppliers to be compliant to all the rules and regulations.