The Smoke and Vape industries are on the cusp of a revenue renaissance. Here are the essential tips, products to carry, and modern retail marketing tactics to make sure your vape shop and e-commerce site are properly prepared to rake it in.

As the vape industry and its culture continue to infiltrate the mainstream, expectations from customers for purchasing a vaporizer are rising. They want it to feel like buying a new phone. After all, the same things come to mind when making a purchasing decision: features, design, price, and experience.

Elevating the quality of the shopping experience both online and in-person can help boost sales and put your store on the map in the buzzing vape scene.

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Whether you’re a brand with an online shop, a brick-and-mortar carrying multiple brands, or an e-commerce vape emporium, we have tips and tricks from the most successful brands and stores in the industry.

Simple Designs Win

When it comes to buying for your store, be mindful of trending designs, as these will sell the fastest and demand a higher price point.

“We’re in the Apple generation,” says Danny Davis, Investment Partner at Jacksam Corp, a design and branding agency for vape products. “Everything has to look and feel like a very technologically advanced device with a very simple user interface, look, and feel. Adding a modern element like carbon fiber, or all white packaging, or simplistic one button, or no button design is something that the industry has been clamoring for.”
Greg Gaston, Marketing Director of e-commerce site Vapor Nation, notes Candy Pens, Dr Gaver, Grenco Science, and White Rhino as examples of acclaimed new era vape brands that are big sellers in his shop.

Grenco Science x Snoop Dogg Double G Personal Vaporizer

Brands With a Story Do Best

Customers are drawn to brands that have a story behind them. It helps buyers establish connections with a brand and make purchasing decisions. It pays to align your shop with those vendors and brands who already know how to bring their product or brand-story to life.

Grenco Science, for instance, has ties to the music industry, which establishes them as a lifestyle brand and helps develop their music-loving audience.

Another brand, Firefly, creates vape designs that are rooted in technology and innovation, which draws a high-end clientele. The modern design approach has gone a long way towards destigmatizing the smoke industry and attracting more mainstream customers into shops across the country.

Know Your Customer

When choosing what brands to carry or if you're selling your own branded product, consider your store's (or site's) existing audience and what kind of customer you are seeking. Canadian-based e-juice company Ilusions Vapor for example, pays close attention to their brand voice every step of the way - product design, packaging, branding, messaging, and website interface - in order to attract an edgy, yet sophisticated audience.  No matter what your approach, it's essential to know your specific audience inside and out.

“There are so many types of consumers and cultures. Knowing what part of the industry your product is for is important for sales and marketing. Whether it’s the hip hop crowd, the outdoorsy crowd, music festival, there is something for everyone,” says Gaston of Vapor Nation.

Collaborate With Your Vendor Brands on Retail Marketing

Working with brands who are focused on marketing is key. It will be hard to sell a product that none of your customers have heard of. If they come into the shop looking for a product they’ve heard about, then that brand has already done half the work.

Many brands are open to creating custom graphics for your website or signage for your store. Other brands, including Grenco Science, often host release parties within select retail shops when launching new products. St. Augustine Organic will create a custom poster with your name on it to help move their merchandise. Ask your vendors if they can provide something, or come in for an in-store demo. You may be surprised!

Have a High-Quality Website

Bud, a vape critic known for his reviews website The Vape Critic, is more than familiar with the process of purchasing a vaporizer online.
“You can’t underestimate how important appearance -- the look and feel -- of your site is,” he says, suggesting high quality graphics, 3D modeling or imagery of the products (as PAX does), and an easy to use interface.

vape ecommerceVapor Nation takes a different approach and focuses on capturing entry-level customers visiting their site. “We want to make our site as inviting to either someone who is new to vaporizers or the most seasoned enthusiast,” Gaston says of Vapor Nation, who claims to receive the most web traffic of any vaporizer web store.

Smoke + Vape ASD Market Week veteran White Rhino’s website traffic is over 50% mobile, says President Adnan Afridi. In order to accommodate customers on all devices, they’ve optimized their site for both web and mobile. Afridi believes that offering a “customer reviews” section boosts credibility by giving online shoppers access to unbiased opinions on products.

Have a Simple Checkout Process on Your Site

A confusing interface, hard-to-spot search option, or tedious check-out process can cause potential buyers to drop off or abandon their shopping cart. Model your site after successful e-commerce in other industries.

“Your platform needs to be easy to shop. You need to have one-click purchasing. You need to offer package tracking. Your experience needs to feel like Amazon or you’ll lose customers,” says Danny Davis, Investment Partner at Jacksam Corp.

Have Amazing Customer Service

Having deep product knowledge will assist in sales and lend credibility to your shop or website.

“The vape community is very strong and very active online. They sense inauthenticity, so you always want to be honest and knowledgeable with them, says Davis.
This sense of deeper product knowledge also helps raise the bar of your brand and continue to take steps away from a traditional boardwalk smoke shop.

ASD Insider Tip: read our post, “4 Ways to Increase Smoke + Vape Shop Sales” to learn how to increase sales by educating your employees as the big retailers do.

Add-ons like free shipping and package tracking have become the new norm, so make sure to include them. Additional features like live chat help ensure you convert more visitors into customers and reduce returns.

vape customer service

Vapor Nation offers a rewards program, giving buyers a 10% credit on each purchase they make. This loyalty program helps turn these buyers into regular customers. Similar to benefits many cosmetic companies offer, Vapor Nation provides a free gift with purchase:  “You buy an herbal vaporizer, we will gift a grinder,” says Gaston.

Develop Your Own Online Content To Attract Customers and Build an Audience

White Rhino has a successful YouTube channel. Vapor Nation created a buyers’ guide for those new to vaping. You should get into the “content game” - but it takes a little planning! If you’re a retailer or e-commerce site owner, we know you’re busy almost every minute of the day - but setting up a blog on your site is essential to bringing qualified site traffic and building trust with your customers.

Discuss with your staff (including interns) the best way to publish one (just 1!) editorial blog post per week. This will be a good start. Quality, non-salesy, helpful editorial content that is cleverly distributed will ultimately generate the sales you need.

“We're always looking for cool, creative content to utilize to promote ourselves,” says Vapor Nation.

In Closing

Selling quality, on-trend products comes first - it’s the key to attracting and maintaining a larger customer base. Your selection and brand partnerships will initially draw customers to your shop, while an intuitive shopping experience paired with the right content will compel purchasing decisions. This approach will convert your visitors to buyers, and your buyers to recurring shoppers.

Whether you are focused on selling vapes online, in-store, or both, remember these pro tips when designing your website, buying your merchandise, and communicating with customers. It might just lead to more sales than you can handle.

Want more expert retailer advice like this? Meet hundreds of vendors and sit in on dozens of free retail strategy sessions at Culture+ at ASD in Las Vegas - the largest wholesale smoking accessories trade show in the U.S. Get your free ticket here.