Even amid the ups and downs the coronavirus pandemic has brought so far, new vape shops are continuing to launch, both online and offline.
That’s a sign of a thriving industry. But if you fancy opening a vape shop of your own, what do you need to bear in mind?
The following are just five things you must know before opening your new vape shop.
Whether your store will be online, offline… or both
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused serious disruption to many ‘high-street’ vaping shops. But with positive news about vaccines having emerged lately, you also need to look beyond the immediate crisis when considering whether your store will be on the web or on the street.
COVID-19 or no COVID-19, people still love to browse and buy from physical shops. After all, it gives them an opportunity to literally reach for and feel items in their hands before purchasing, as well as to talk to (hopefully!) well-informed staff.
But there’s also no denying the surging popularity of online shopping in recent times. Consider, too, the merits of a combined online and offline presence. Shisha Vibe, for instance, has a generously stocked online shop that offers free click-and-collect on orders picked up from its London Bridge store.
Where your physical store will be located
If you do decide your vape shop will have a ‘high street’ arm, you’ll have to consider possible locations for it before opening that are both desirable and realistic.
That can be a tricky balance to strike. A good ‘rule of thumb’, though, is to seek parts of your intended town or city where there is a healthy amount of foot traffic to attract passing trade, but also where there aren’t too many vaping shops already.
And of course, rental and other setup costs are also likely to influence your choice. A slightly ‘out of the way’, undiscovered location may turn out to offer the best ‘sweet spot’ for your store.
Your business plan
People often start vaping stores out of a passion for the fascinating world of e-cigarettes. That passion will be important for powering you through the difficult times when running a vape shop. It should not, however, be an excuse for neglecting the business basics.
A business plan, for example, is an essential starting point – even if your vape shop does grow out of a mere ‘pastime’. It’s easy to find business plan templates online, and putting one together will enable you to account for all of the costs and opportunities your vape shop business represents. That, in turn, will help you to avoid headaches later.
The products you’ll sell
It may seem almost too obvious to mention, but it’s the formula that every successful vape shop must follow: stocking the highest-quality and most relevant products at the most competitive prices.
All too many vape retailers fail to strike this balance successfully, which can immediately damage their chances of gaining a foothold in their industry and community.
The moment your store launches, it needs to offer the range of reputable, in-demand and good-value vaping products that your target customers will expect. That underlines the importance of also keeping up to date with the latest industry trends and product launches, so that you can be sure of your store always offering the most sought-after vape kits, tanks, coils, pods and e-liquids.
Your customer service approach
Again, it may seem somewhat obvious to suggest that the customer service you deliver will go a long way to determining whether your store succeeds or fails.
It’s important to remember, however, that the vape industry is still a relatively niche one. Some of the people who enter your store will be newcomers to vaping who will appreciate your staff explaining vaping concepts and products to them in an easy-to-understand way.
Other customers, meanwhile, will be longer-time vaping enthusiasts who might seek your personal opinion of the latest much-talked-about products. It’s therefore crucial for you and your employees to possess a broad customer service skill set encompassing professionalism, friendliness and knowledge.
You’ll need to think carefully about how your store will handle disputes, returns and exchanges, too. Some customers may surprise you with their behaviour and requests, so your staff must be ready from the first day to deliver consistently excellent, responsive and empathetic customer service.
Running a vape shop can undoubtedly be both challenging and richly rewarding in the 2020s. We’re in an economic climate that offers both opportunity and potential difficulty – so ensuring you’re knowledgeable in all of the above elements will greatly strengthen your business’s chances of success.