How do I start a vape shop business?

vape shop business

Thinking of starting a vape shop business? Like most businesses, embarking on the adventure of opening a vape store is no easy task. But there are several key aspects that, if addressed early, will set your business up for success in the future. Here are nine key things needed to reach vaping victory

  1. Prepare a vape shop business plan
  2. Familiarise yourself with local regulations
  3. Choose a location
  4. Assess your startup costs
  5. Find reliable suppliers and order quality inventory
  6. Choose a vape-friendly POS system
  7. Build a smoking social media presence
  8. Hire the right employees and prioritize customer service
  9. Create a welcoming atmosphere

1. Prepare a Vape shop business plan

The number one step to take before opening any kind of shop or business is to write a good business plan. Think of this as a write-up of your goals and plans, as well as your strategies. No matter how good your idea is, if you go into it blindly, you’ll encounter many problems along the way. 

Today, almost half of all new businesses fail within the first 5 years. If you want to avoid this or at least reduce the chances of it happening, you need a good plan that you’ll follow in your new journey.

In the business plan, you need to clarify the purpose of your brand. You’ll plan things such as expenses, funding, products you’ll be selling, platforms you’ll be using, etc. Your business plan should also include projections that are realistic and mark your path in the following weeks, months, and years.  

Remember, the success of any business depends on planning. Before you jumpstart this and open a vape shop just because ‘people are loving this’, do tons of research and create a good business plan. 

In your business plan, including everything from the name of your shop to your social platforms to how you plan to comply with regulations in your country. Many countries don’t have big regulations on vapes, but some do. If you learn this beforehand, you can prevent grand losses that will cost you your business. 

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2. Familiarise yourself with local regulations

One major area where vape shops differ from a traditional retail businesses is the licenses and legal requirements needed to set up shop. In general, laws around the sale and use of tobacco also apply to vaping and e-cigarettes. However, each state and even some localities within states have their own regulations. It’s important to check with your local authorities to understand the laws you’ll need to comply with and the licenses you’ll need to acquire. Accounting for this in your business plan can save you time and prevent major or legal trouble down the line.

3. Choose a location

Like most retail businesses starting out, you want to choose a location for your vape shop with plenty of traffic and visibility, parking, and an inviting storefront. Vaping is a hot trend: the industry was valued at $6.09 billion USD in 2020 and is projected to grow by 27% by 2028. Many entrepreneurs are looking to get in on the action, which makes your location that much more important.

As vaping has become more mainstream, it’s also made its way into gas stations and convenience stores, so you may be competing with them, too. Taking the time to perform a competitive analysis. as well as studying the available commercial real estate to identify the optimal location, which could be the key to your success or failure.

4. Assess your startup costs

You’ll also want to have a firm grasp on the startup costs associated with opening a vape shop. The costs of starting a vape shop can vary widely. but here are the basic expenses you’ll need to account for before opening your doors: 

  • Renting a retail storefront
  • Fees for obtaining licenses and permits
  • Enrolling in a vape shop business insurance plan
  • Payroll and tax costs, especially if plan to you hire employees
  • Initial inventory
  • Equipment for running your business, such as retail shelving, counter space, and a POS system

5. Find reliable suppliers and order quality inventory

It’s crucial to find a reputable, trustworthy supplier that carries products your customers will love. The last thing you want or need is for your supplier to either run out of the items you sell or for them to be unreliable. To find a supplier to work with, try doing some preliminary research online or ask around at your favorite vapor shops.

When it comes to ordering inventory, make sure that you’re not just choosing products that you’d want to use. Though you serve a niche community, you want to make sure that you appeal to the largest number of people possible. Do a little market research and ask around. What are vapers looking for? What do they feel vape shops are currently missing, and what would they be excited to see at a new shop?

For beginners, you’ll want to sell at least one variety of rechargeable e-cigarettes or an e-cigarette starter kit. For more experienced vapers, you’ll want to offer several vape kits that allow for customization. Lastly, be sure to stock a variety of vape supplies like batteries, mods, and perhaps most importantly, many varieties of vape liquid or juice.

Finding suppliers is easy, but finding the right manufacturer for your product is challenging.

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6. Choose a vape-friendly POS system

Purchasing a vape POS system is one of the most important moves you can make when starting any business. A good retail POS system will not only provide a customer-friendly experience at your checkout counter. but also will allow you to capture customer information, optimize staffing, and manage and reorder your inventory more efficiently. Starting a business is time-consuming, but using a POS system helps you save time so that you can focus on the aspects of your business that matter most. For your vape shop, you’ll want to look for a POS system that has built-in RACS compliance, as well as age and quantity restrictions. 

7. Build a successful social media presence

Social media is critical for any retail business. It helps drive traffic to your store and is integral in building a strong and personable brand. But since search engines such as Google and Bing don’t allow vape stores to create ads, this makes a strong social media strategy crucial to starting and running a successful business. It also goes hand-in-hand with the community of vapers you’ll be cultivating. 

Ideally, you want your social channels to attract new customers and keep returning customers up-to-date on promotions and events at your store. To make your small business social media social media strategy most effective, you’ll need to assess which social media platforms are best for the vape shop business. 

8. Hire the right employees and prioritize customer service

You might find that you need help running and managing your vape shop. If so, you’ll need to find the right staff. In the U.S., vape store employees earn an average of $13 per hour. But check your local guidelines to find up-to-date minimum wage figures. Once you’ve assessed how many employees you’d like to hire, post a job advertisement online or in your community to get the word out. 

As far as customer service goes, your approach must be twofold:

1) you’ll need to provide advice and product recommendations that meet your customers’ individual needs.

2) you’ll need to deliver excellent customer service consistently.

That means being able to help new vapers pick out the starter kit they need just as well as you can talk through the intricacies of a new vape pen or vape mod with an experienced user. Like a sommelier, you’ll also need to be able to speak to the nuances of the thousands of flavor and nicotine-strength combinations of vape juice.

As far as customer service and customer relationship management, you’ll want to develop policies that make sense for your business, but here are a few general questions you’ll want to answer:

  • How will employees greet and interact with shoppers in-store?
  • How will you handle returns or exchanges?
  • How will you handle disputes and angry shoppers?
  • Will you order products that you don’t carry in-store for customers?
  • What programs will you put in place to develop customer satisfaction and loyalty?

Once you feel like you’re able to address these questions. make sure to put your policies in writing and train your staff accordingly. While a lot of customer service may seem like common sense, people will surprise you in the heat of the moment. The best thing you can do to combat this is to regularly revisit customer service policies with your team and practice roleplaying as needed.

9. Create a welcoming atmosphere

The atmosphere of your store is a significant way to differentiate yourself and get a leg up on the competition. This means cultivating an environment that encourages customers to safely spend more time in your store. To help you achieve that goal. consider adding the following elements to your shop to create a comfortable, inviting vaper lounge:

  • Comfy couches and chairs
  • Television and/or music
  • Plenty of lighting
  • An outside seating area (if your space allows it)

The biggest takeaway is that when customers have several competing vape shops to choose from, they’ll naturally drift towards the one with the most inviting atmosphere. While you can do a lot with the physical space of your location, the attitude of you and your employees can be even more impactful.

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