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Thread: Starting an E-Cig Store

  1. #1
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    Default Starting an E-Cig Store

    Does anyone on here have experience with having their own online e-cig store?

    If so I would love to ask you some questions.

  2. #2
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    Here is something I posted in a thread in the New Members are about a week ago. I did not get any direct replies to what I wrote, which disappointed me a little since I think it is an interesting topic.

    I was tempted to start a thread on this subject anyway so I am glad that you did.

    Some random thoughts/opinions I have had on this subject since I briefly considered doing the same thing as my area doesn't seem to have any PV-specific retailers at all.

    First off, I would also advise against a mall kiosk. Those damn things have already left a bad taste in the mouth of many potential customers and the rent might make the whole thing cost-prohibitive anyway. If you want to make a profit, a business you can run out of your own home with no permanent "storefront" is probably your best bet, at least until you establish a nice customer base.

    I think the idea of working with some local gas stations is a better idea, particularly those stations that are 1) high volume and 2) have more of a blue-collar clientele (i.e., sell a lot of cigarettes). You might also consider approaching some of your local tobacconists but you may also get some substantial resistance from them.

    Pick one or two proven reliable and cost-effective models to focus on. At first blush, I would think a standard 510 and a compatible "upgrade" like the Riva or the eGo. Personally, the black model Riva would probably be a good "flagship" model to build your business around. It has conservative good looks, has been proven to be pretty reliable, and you can also sell some bling models (like the all-pink and the stainless steel). Also, sell at least one line of solid eJuice in at least 10 or so flavors with at least 12, 18 and 24mg strengths in at least a couple of different sizes.

    What seems most critical to me is acknowledging the fact that any quality PV just has a substantially higher learning curve than analogs. You will need to TEACH your customers how to use one of these things so that they feel comfortable and confident severing (fully or partially) the umbilical they have between Phillip Morris/RJ Reynolds/etc.

    To that end, here is what I would strongly recommend. Produce a series of videos, featuring yourself preferably, that espouse the virtues of PVing in general, and explain the basics of using the products, refilling carts/dripping/cartos, cleaning/maintaining equipment, battery life, juice strengths, etc. All of these videos should feature the specific products you sell. These videos should be at least modestly professional (i.e., better quality than your average YouTube review video shot in someone's bedroom). Burn these videos to CD-ROMs (which are dirt cheap) with a decent label on them. They can learn so much more about what it is you are selling and why they should buy it from those videos than they can from listening to you in person for 3-4 minutes.

    So, picture this. You set up a table outside of a high-volume convenience store. You have demo products that people can try and, even if they don't try a demo (after all, they may just be a loved one of someone else who smokes), if they show any interest at all, make sure they walk away with a video CD, a price list and 3-4 of your business cards. Out of pocket for the CD and business cards per potential customer will be very minimal.

    Be willing (and make it clear to anyone that you are willing) to do in-home demos Pampered Chef-style or host potential customers in your own home if practical.

    Have a website that also includes the price lists and hosts the same videos.

    Make sure your prices are at least in the ballpark of what people can buy the same stuff online for. People will pay a premium for the personal TLC that you provide, but how long they buy from you rather than Liberty Flights or someplace like that will depend on how much of a price difference there is.

    Again, this is just what I came up with while considering the same concept a few days ago.
    By opening an actual store, you increase your expenses (and potential losses) pretty substantially. Having one is certainly great, but establishing a nice customer base through word of mouth first might be a good idea.

    I really think a CD with video tutorials/business card handout idea is a good one. Every time you pass someone smoking outside of a store, you can talk them up just long enough for them to take your sales materials. You don't even have to be a very good salesman. Let your CD do the selling for you.

  3. #3
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    Im talking about a online store man! Lol.

  4. #4
    Ultra Member ECF Veteran Pipeous's Avatar
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    While maybe not an e cig store, I have had shpping cart systems. you can either just use the paypal system or use a webstore software. ecommerce is a free download and pretty good, if you don't mind doing some reading. lots of web hosting packages available now for hosting services or you could run your own server off your computer. apache springs to mind

  5. #5
    Registered Supplier ECF Veteran Slickstick's Avatar
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    Most suppliers will not answer because they are cutthroat and do not want you to even try. I recommended this ONLY if you have a TON of cash to work with, nothing but time on your hands, time to travel, have a very good taxman, and really know what you are doing before you do it. Steady hands, web skills, advertising skills, patience, and the heart of a lion. I've been doing it just about a year, broke as can be, and still just a very small blip on the radar.
    Aside from a very long waiting list to be on the forums here for example, some undeserving suppliers subforums get a thousand views with one post while others only get a few. It is quite annoying. You really have to believe in it and it really has to be something you want to do for others, and not just to make a profit. I sold about 12 grand worth of e-cig supplies and juice last year, but I bet when I do my taxes I'll find out I spent nearly as much just running the business with overhead and returns. And after all that people still say they never heard of us.

    The most annoying thing is!

    Getting long phone calls and emails with compliments.
    That's right, I said compliments.
    When someone calls you up and talks for hours explaining how they have tried all the big name suppliers liquid and none of them compare to yours, you will wonder why your forum is quiet and theirs is off the chain for no good reason, especially when you see bad things about them in other posts. That really confuses me. I would much rather get a compliment in a forum rather than an email or phone call.

    If it is something you still are interested in doing I will answer any of your questions to the best of my ability.
    mrmiller96 and Chuck2 like this.

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    Thanks for that man. What about an actual store? Do you know of any stores that a exclusively devoted to just vaping? Sounds like a good idea.

  7. #7
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    godaddy.com is pretty easy. If you look at the bottom of pretty much every supplier's website, you can see what shoppingcart software and host they use. Its like $50 bucks to get going with a shopping cart and domain and website at godaddy. Then $30 a month after that for 100 product cart.

    Then you spend about 3 months going back in forth with all the chineese suppliers ironing everything out. Buy 500 kits and they will almost all OEM brand your packaging with whatever you want.

    Merchant account (to accept credit cards direct on your site instead of paypall) is about $50 also.

    Or just say screw the website and shopping cart, order a ton of stuff from Boge or Microcig and just go barhopping and sell out of the trunk of your car and hand out business cards. <----- insane amount of cash there.

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    How about a lounge that sells the supplies too? That's an idea I been playin with.
    Chuck2 likes this.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xhale12 View Post
    Thanks for that man. What about an actual store? Do you know of any stores that a exclusively devoted to just vaping? Sounds like a good idea.
    Which leads me to my post.

    I do apologize for overlooking the word "online" in your original post.

  10. #10
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    Same! Thats exactly what I am thinking of. I live in Hollywood and thought something right near Hollywood Blvd would be a hit. TONS of smokers and cig shops out here.

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