Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

With more people than ever before switching from traditional cigarettes to the cheaper, safer alternative of vaping, starting an online vape store can be both an exciting and profitable venture. However, you can expect competition to be tough as vaping grows in popularity, and you’ll need to be ready to put some work in to turn your dream into a reality.

The vaping industry has a huge amount of online traffic, with thousands of people each month searching for vaping products online. Whether it is beginners looking for their first vape kit or more advanced, experienced vapers looking to upgrade their sub-ohm tank or drip tip, the internet is often a vaper’s first port of call. Starting an online vape store that appeals to every kind of vaper whilst standing out from the crowd can be challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. We’ve put together some top tips to help get you started.

#1. Sorting Out the Legal Side of Things:

First and foremost, it’s important to make sure that you are legally covered as a vape retailer. Whether you’re selling mods, tanks, e-liquids or a combination of different products, you’ll need to have an approval letter from a reputable lawyer before you’ll be able to open a merchant’s account and start taking credit card payments on your site. The lawyer’s fee will be one of the most expensive start-up costs; expect to put aside between $500-$1,000 to set up your site and ensure that it matches the vaping age requirements for each state. It’s important to do your own research beforehand to make sure that you are compliant at both state and local levels; this will help speed up the process of getting legal approval. It’s important to obtain a high-risk merchant’s account, which includes legal age verification checks. This will help you avoid inadvertently selling your products to minors in the future.

#2. Setting Up Your Website:

Once you’ve been legally approved and are ready to go, it’s time to start thinking about setting up your website. The first step here is to come up with a domain name that’s relevant to the industry, but also easy to remember and type. Most likely, your domain name will be your brand name. A .com domain suffix is always the best way to go, but if the one you want is unavailable, you might want to consider other alternatives that can help your site’s address stand out. You will also need to choose a platform for your site and online store. Shopify is a great choice for online vape stores since it includes plugins that will enable you to display an age verification pop-up depending on the state that the user is visiting from. It is also fully integrable with services such as Bluecheck for age verification of purchases.

#3. Standing Out:

Now, it’s time to think about being visually appealing and standing out from the crowd. This is an area where you would be wise to make the biggest investments since the web and graphic design of your site are going to be one of the first things that users see, contributing massively to first impressions. You can find inexpensive logo designs, web designs and more on sites such as Freelancer and Fiverr, or work with a company over the long term to provide ongoing graphics for your site. Don’t forget that ease of use should always be a priority; make sure that you go for a web design package which offers mobile-friendly options and keeps your navigation system simple and easy to find.

#4. Know Your Stuff:

There’s much more to vaping than meets the eye, and many new vapers can be confused about this new piece of technology that’s in front of them. So, it’s important to portray your brand as an expert in the industry. People aren’t just going to come to your site to buy new vape gear or e-juice, but also to find out more about the technical aspect of things, or simply for tips on picking the right coils, liquids or wattage level for them. A blog can really come in handy here. If you’re not clued up on vaping yourself, then it might be a good idea to hire somebody who is to come and write for you. A YouTube channel integrated into your site can also work well; you can show reviews of new or popular vape kits, liquids and more to encourage people to try them for themselves. Read more here for a great example of tips, advice, and information that many vapers may well have been unaware of.

#5. Partner with Wholesalers:

When you’re starting out small, it’s probably safe to assume that you don’t have masses of warehouse space in which to store your stock while waiting for customers to order it. This is where wholesalers and dropshippers come in. When you get an order, you’ll place it with the dropshipper, who will then send the product to the customer with your name on it. When the customer receives their package, there’s no reason for them to think that it didn’t come directly from you. Partnering up with reputable wholesalers makes starting small possible. It allows you to only order in the stock that you need and avoid the need to pay rent for storage space.

#6. Focus on Building an Online Presence:

Last but not least, it’s important to put a lot of focus into building a strong online presence. This isn’t just by means of your website, but also when it comes to general and local SEO, social media, and popular blogs and forums in the industry. The more amazing content your brand publishes, the more credible it will become in the vaping world. Don’t forget the power of social media, either – posting regular updates to your followers and having a very responsive private message response rate can be a massive boost to your reputation.

Starting an online vape store can be a very lucrative opportunity, with vaping increasing in popularity at a rapid rate!