The market is huge but there are plenty of online vape businesses out there.
So what should the astute entrepreneur consider when setting up a successful online vape business?
1. Invest in SEO
Whilst AdWords will bring instant traffic to your site if you’ve optimised it well enough, it won’t deliver long term results and you will pay for every click. You should instead be looking to invest in SEO for long-term search engine presence and learning about the latest techniques and practices so that you can stay abreast of Google’s ever-changing algorithm.
Whilst outsourcing your SEO to a professional agency with a proven track record is always a good investment for a startup e-commerce business, if you take the time to do your research, have a clear plan and constantly invest in producing good quality content then there’s a lot you can achieve on your own. Things you need to consider include:
- Identifying the right ‘money keywords’ and then incorporating them into your copy in a natural way that prioritises human readers (rather than search bots!)
- Creating good quality content that actually meets your audience’s needs and provides them with value.
- Ensuring that your website is well laid out and that it has all elements such as meta descriptions, image tags and page headers correctly in place.
- Registering your business for local searches and incorporating an independent customer review feature for added trust.
- Building backlinks which add to the ‘trust’ status in Google’s eyes.
2. Use the right platform and payment provider
Most websites today are built using template systems which remove the need for a custom build. Whether you use a leading system such as WordPress or Shopify, or pick something a little more niche, you must ensure that it offers the ability to:
- Easily create an SEO-friendly website.
- Update content without hassle.
- Integrate with apps and software packages such as e-commerce systems, order fulfilment apps and payment platforms.
- Access user analytics to assess the success of your site and identify further improvements.
3. Optimise your logistics
Your website might look great and work perfectly but if your logistics aren’t perfectly aligned, you’ll find it challenging to deliver a great end-to-end experience. The main consideration here is whether you fulfil orders via a warehouse or drop shipping model. With warehousing you can enjoy a higher margin, more control, better choices and the lower risks that come from buying only the products that your customers are purchasing. However, there are challenges that come with this approach too, from the risks of storage through to dealing with multiple suppliers.
With drop shipping, the customer buys from you and your supplier then fulfils the order. It’s cheaper to start a business with this model, requires no holding of inventory and can be efficient. However, there are risks involved too, from scams through to service quality. Before making a decision, investigate the two approaches thoroughly and do your research before making a decision.
4. Engage with your audience
Effective marketing will make all the difference when it comes to successfully launching your vaping shop. You’ll need to consider everything from the right name to a brand, as well as a marketing plan to help you to find your audience, engage them, convert them and then retain their custom. Consider product positioning and ideally aim for a brand with a premium edge so that you can charge extra and enjoy a better premium.
Discount products tend to simply become a ‘race to the bottom’ when it comes to profits. A margin of about 50% is ideal. For marketing, social media is a fantastic medium to build buzz but vape companies in the UK are seriously curtailed by what they can do by the rules of the Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) which leads us nicely onto the regulations.
5. Know the regulations
You’ll need to be up to speed with the regulations that govern your business. The TPD has affected everything from vaping ingredients through to the sizes of vaping bottles that can be sold, the warnings that must be included on packaging and the messages that can be used in marketing materials. Get up to speed with the detail to ensure that you don’t fall foul of the rules and incur a penalty.
If you do your research, create and market a quality product, deliver a great customer experience and keep investing in your brand and retail offer, you can grow a healthy and rewarding online vape business that will deliver an attractive income and the potential for long-term success in a growth market.