Smokers have always been a major player in market activities.
Tobacco was one of the first crops the European colonizers brought cultivated on a large scale. It would not be wrong to say that the foundation of the United States was driven by the tobacco trade to a great extent.
It’s not surprising that tobacco and cigarette companies are among the largest conglomerates in the world.
Philip Morris International, for instance, has a market value of 159.2 billion U.S. dollars. For a long time, these tobacco companies had a singular hold over the smoking market.
When vaping entered the smoking market, cigarette companies saw their first real competitors. The vape market in the United States is set to reach $40.25 billion by 2028. If you are thinking about getting into the vaping business in the heyday of the market, this article is for you.
The harsh reality of starting a vape shop in 2022
We live in a very different world following the Covid-19 pandemic. Retail sales have steadily dwindled following the pandemic, and online sales have increased.
Understanding post-covid market economics is crucial if you want to run a successful vape shop in 2022.
Let’s find out more about the harsh reality of starting a vape shop in 2022.
Challenges to starting a vape shop in 2022
We’ll begin with the challenges first and leave the more optimistic part for the last. Most of us are aware of the fact running any business is difficult, no matter what you are trying to sell. Serial entrepreneurs are always looking for new ideas, products, and services to capitalize on. That brings many people to the idea of starting a vape shop.
The problem is that most people do not know how to open a vape shop. They jump on the bandwagon without a thorough understanding of what the vaping industry and its future looks like. Make sure that you don’t make the same mistake when opening a vape shop. Here are some of the challenges you need to be mindful of:
1. There are already many vape shops
To put it in other words, you are entering a high-competition market. There are two main components of vaping — the smoking device and the smoking liquid. In most cases, the smoking liquid has nicotine that makes vaping an alternative to smoking.
The problem is that both these components are commoditized. There’s nothing unique that you can bring to the table in terms of the machine and the consumable substance. Several other shops would be selling the exact thing as your shop would. In such a circumstance, it often boils down to a price game. That in turn makes revenue hard to come by.
It’s crucial to be aware of the nature of the vaping market if you want to succeed in it. It takes more to succeed in the vaping business than people assume.
Solution: How to mark your place in the market
The two keywords to mark your market position are branding and marketing. Branding is more important than marketing when you are trying to tell your customers that you are offering something new. At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge that you are providing a new experience and not a new commodity.
Branding is complex and time-consuming, but there’s no way around it. Establish what your vaping brand does, which would be more about creating an experience than anything else. Think about watch brands, and how some watch brands stand for a unique experience despite having the same features as another brand. That’s the same thing you need to do with your vaping brand.
According to Henfield, 80% of the product’s appeal is product surround and only 20% is that of the core product.
2. Offline sales have come down
Almost all sectors saw a decline in retail sales during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. More importantly, people are now very comfortable with online shopping. We are now buying everything from groceries to precious metals online.
Starting a brick-and-mortar vape shop in the post-covid world is risky. Nonetheless, you need a brick-and-mortar establishment to promote your brand. If you fail to draw enough customers to your store, it would not be a profitable venture.
This challenge is not specific to the vaping industry. Similarly, the solution to this challenge is also not specific to vaping. Like any other business, you need to go online to maximize sales and reach. Here’s how you can do it:
You do not need to choose between online and offline outlets when you can have both. Building an online shop has never been easier. If you want to keep your offline store running, you need to have an online counterpart.
The costs of running an offline store are more than what you would spend obtaining vaping devices and smoking liquids. Everything from rent to utility bills adds up to a huge amount. By focusing more on the online store, you can reduce some of these costs.
At the same time, the presence of a brick-and-mortar outlet gives any brand more credibility and authority. For these reasons, every vape shop owner needs to have an online presence.
3. Customers would be skeptical of trying yet another vaping brand
‘If it’s not broken, don’t fix it’ – many people live by this philosophy. There’s a growing number of people who are looking into the evils of fast consumerism as a whole. As such, many people would be reluctant to try yet another vaping product, especially if they are already on something else.
Since it’s difficult for you to promise a superior vaping product, you must play on the experience card here also. The solution relies on branding to a great extent, but marketing plays a more important role.
You can promote your product as much as you want, but you also need people who are actually using it. That’s where marketing and distribution come into play. If you want more people to try your product, you need to market more aggressively.
Solution: Digital and print marketing
Let’s talk about print marketing first since digital marketing has now become the primary mode of marketing.
Print marketing is indeed surprisingly effective.
More than 50% of customers say that they trust print marketing more than digital marketing. Part of the reason is the sheer volume of digital marketing. We see around 10,000 online advertisements every day. It’s only natural that we don’t care about most of it.
Print marketing is often seen as a more intimate mode of marketing. No matter how you look at it, combining print and digital marketing gives the best results. Print marketing is also low-cost, which makes it feasible even if you are just starting out.
4. Regulations can cripple your vaping business
Depending on where you want to start your vaping business, regulations can be a big challenge.
In the UK, for instance, it’s relatively easy to obtain licenses and permissions to start a vaping shop. On the other hand, running a vape shop in the United States is much more difficult in terms of regulations.
According to Phi Dang, business coach and CEO of Sidepost,”…irrespective of where you are, running a vape business requires you to have an identity verification system in place. You cannot sell vaping pens or e-cigarettes to minors anywhere. That means you have to add another layer of security to all your purchases, online or offline.”
Some cities and states in the US have outlawed all online sales of vaping products or the majority of e-liquid varieties. Customers in areas where some flavors are prohibited must see the appropriate items on your eCommerce platform.
Additionally, it must automatically reject consumer purchases in cases where online orders are prohibited. It is your responsibility to be familiar with the local legislation in any area where you provide vaping items for sale.
Wading through all the regulatory challenges is a major problem in starting a vape shop in 2022. Depending on local laws and regulations, you would have to obtain multiple permissions to start your business. Fortunately, there’s a solution as well.
Solution: Work with a compliance management system
A compliance management system (CMS) takes all compliance-related responsibilities off your shoulders. Think of it as outsourcing your compliance requirements to a third-party service provider.
Every division of your company—from sales to marketing to logistics and administration—is integrated with a compliance management system. While adhering to various regulatory standards, a strong compliance management system may proactively handle the risks that are important to your firm.
There are several great compliance management systems to choose from. Go for a CMS platform that addresses your specific needs and falls within your budget. Business owners who have switched to compliance management systems never go back to handling the complicated compliance processes manually.
We hope to have painted a comprehensive picture of what it’s like to start a vape shop in 2022.
When you know what to expect beforehand, planning for a new business venture becomes much simpler. While the vaping market is competitive and highly regulated, you can still run a successful vaping business in 2022 if you do the right things.