The legal dry herb market is forecasted to top $6 billion in 2016, and the growth potential of this new industry is expected to be very high for years to come as more states move to legalize the herbs both medically and recreationally. Obviously this is a very attractive industry to enter, but the introductory costs for starting farms and dispensaries are prohibitively expensive.
The good news for budding entrepreneurs is that with the growth of marijuana sales, many ancillary products and services will also see significant sales increases. There’s a common maxim taught to wanna-be business owners that goes like this: “You can mine for gold or you can sell pickaxes.” This saying alludes to the fact that some of the most successful businesses are built around offering tools or supplies for bigger industries.
Vaporizers are the modern day pickaxe. All that medicinal marijuana being sold has to be consumed in some way or another, and vaporizers continue to rise in popularity as a consumption method year after year. This is largely because they offer a better experience when compared to traditional smoking methods, but they’re also extremely efficient and ultra-convenient. For these reasons, it’s safe to assume that the overall vaporizer industry will continue to grow for years to come.
If you’re thinking to yourself that this is all well and good but you don’t know how you would even begin to sell vaporizers so you can cash in on this lucrative niche, then this guide is for you!
How to Source Vaporizers
If you decide you want to start selling vaporizers, then one of the first things that you’ll need to do is actually source some to sell! While you can always develop and manufacture your own product, this is a difficult route to go as there are many manufacturers already competing with a vast knowledge of vaporizer design. For those of you who would prefer to deal with currently existing vapes, you have two routes to choose from.
Straight From The Manufacturer
Your first option is to go directly to the manufacturer and ask for details about becoming an authorized vaporizer distributor of their product. This can be a difficult way to start as most manufacturers will have large minimum order quantities that will tie up your available capital quickly. Pricing models are generally steeply tiered, so this route tends to be better once you are established and can afford to place large orders. Remember to take what manufacturers say with a grain of salt, as they tend to be rather biased in thinking their product is the best on the market. Always do extensive research into any vaporizer that you consider selling.
Use a Wholesaler
A vaporizer wholesaler is a good way to start because you can find some that don’t carry minimum order restrictions. You’ll also get access to a wider variety of products, giving you the ability to find out firsthand what sells well and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to ask a wholesaler what is currently selling the best, as they care more about moving inventory than promoting a specific product over another. Good wholesalers will even be able to give you detailed stats regarding sales and profit margins. A good way to find wholesalers is using a site just like this one!
Where And How To Sell Vaporizers
Sourcing a product won’t do you any good unless you have a plan in place regarding how and where you will sell them. There are a variety of options at your disposal, and you may want to experiment in small batches with each to find where you find the most success.
Sell Directly Through Your Own Website
Setting up your own website gives you complete control over your business and opens up a lot of marketing options that aren’t available if you use third party sites. While this may seem like a daunting task, the process of building a website is actually a lot easier than you may think.
How to Build a Website
First you’ll need to decide what framework you want to use to build the site. WordPress.org is very popular, and going this route gives you the opportunity to shop around for good deals on hosting. Alternatively, you can go with a service designed for beginners like Wix or Squarespace.
Choose a Domain Name
A great resource for choosing a domain name is namecheckr.com, which will automatically check any name’s availability on social networks and as a domain name. Hosting providers will also offer domain availability checks, but this won’t give you insight regarding the names availability on social networks, which may be important when you go to market your site. When choosing a hosting provider, be sure to look for one that offers 1-click WordPress installation if you have chosen this framework.
Optimize for eCommerce
Whether you have chosen WordPress, Wix or Squarespace, you’ll have the ability to choose themes when setting up your site. Choose one that comes optimized for e-commerce, as this will make it much easier to add product listings and incorporate payments onto the site. Do some research into site design and content creation if you plan to do everything yourself, or you can always find a freelancer that can help you get started.
There are many ways to market a website, but search engine optimization (SEO) is extremely important if you want people to be able to find your website through simple searches. SEO sounds complicated at first, but in reality it mainly involves having good content that is structured in a way that allows web scrapers to identify exactly what the page is about. Site plugins like Yoast SEO make this process very easy.
Use Third Party Sites
Generally speaking, there are two different types of third-party sites for selling goods that you will come across. The first are considered online classified ads, including sites like Craigslist and Kijiji. Using these sites typically involve meeting in person but can be a great way to gauge interest in a product before investing in inventory. The founder of Canada’s largest vaporizer store, Nima Noori, started this way – advertising on Kijiji before even getting inventory!
Amazon & eBay-
The second type of site offers payment processing and some type of escrow to protect buyers and sellers. Sites like this include Amazon and Ebay. The benefit of using these platforms over your own site is that you have instant access to millions of shoppers, but you’ll also be competing with other people selling very similar (often times the same) product. It can be difficult to differentiate yourself on a platform like this, but the sheer scale of these sites helps to offset this. You can find a guide to selling on Amazon here, and a guide for Ebay here.
Use Affiliate and Dropshipping Programs to Avoid Inventory
If you go the route of setting up your own site, you also have the option of avoiding inventory altogether. This can be a huge benefit if you are starting with limited capital, and it also significantly decreases your overall risk when you don’t know how well a given product is going to sell. The two ways you can do this are through affiliate marketing and dropshipping.
Affiliate marketing is probably the best way to get started selling vaporizers. While margins won’t be as high as if you stocked your own inventory, your risk exposure will be almost non-existent. This is because affiliate programs work by giving you credit for sales on other people’s websites if they are directed there through content that you publish.
How Do Affiliate Programs Work?-
This process is tracked through URLs that are provided through the affiliate program. A unique identifier that is connected to your website is used and lets the seller know that a visitor found their site through your own. If they make a purchase, you are then given a percentage of the revenue as a reward for directing the sale – a commission .
Many vaporizer stores and manufacturers have programs like this setup. Look at the bottom of their websites in the directory areas for anything marked affiliate, or simply send them an email and ask about if they have a vaporizer affiliate program.
How to choose an affiliate partner-
Not all affiliate programs are created equal, so you’ll want to review all of your options to see which ones will be the most beneficial for you. Things to look out for include the commission structure, conversion rates and graphics availability. While this isn’t always the case, most good partners will have this information readily available for you.
Big Commissions & Conversion Rates-
Commission structure is obviously important as you want to earn the maximum amount possible off every sale, but conversion rate is something that is often overlooked. Be sure to ask potential partners about this because you’ll want to work with a business that is effective at taking leads and converting them into sales. Think about it this way: you’ll make more money working with a business with 15% commissions and a 30% conversion rate than one with 50% commissions and a 5% conversion rate.
The availability of graphics is also important, as this makes advertising the products much easier for you. Good programs will have a wide assortment of predesigned ads available for you to use. Many will even offer to custom make ads for you if you ask them.
Finally, always check to see what countries your potential partners are able to service. Ideally they will at least ship to the US and Canada, as both are in the process of legalization, representing a great potential for growth and future sales.
There are many examples of people who are successful at operating affiliate based vaporizer businesses. These tend to be based on offering reviews of products as a marketing tool, then using affiliate links to monetize their site. One example would be vaporizerwizard.com, and another is vapecritic.com.
The second way you can sell vaporizers without handling any inventory yourself is through dropshipping. While affiliate marketing involves directing people to another site, with dropshipping the sale is still completed on your own website. You handle all of the payment processing, then send the orders out to your partners who handle fulfillment.
How Does Dropshipping Work?-
Dropshipping arrangements can work in several different ways. Some manufacturers have you sell their branded product, while others will allow you to place your brand name on the products that they produce. Either method can be successful, but just like with affiliate programs, there are certain things you need to be on the lookout for when choosing a partner.
The first factor is how much profit you will make on each sale. With dropshipping, the customer first pays you and then you must pay the dropshipper whatever price you agreed on per unit. You’re margins won’t be as good as if you handled fulfillment yourself, but you also won’t have to deal with fulfillment or warehousing.
The other thing to consider is order processing time. Slow shipping speeds are increasingly a complaint among consumers as they grow used to services like 2-day shipping. Make sure that your partner is able to process orders quickly and get them in the mail, otherwise your brand will suffer and there is little you can do about it.
With the extreme growth potential of the emerging legal marijuana market, it makes a lot of sense to get involved in some manner. Vaporizers seem to be the single best related product as they’re easily marketed and there are many distribution methods to take advantage of.
The best part is that there is virtually no barrier to entry, as a simple affiliate arrangement is all you need to get started. Armed with a good partner and a simple website, you can start reviewing units and collecting commissions with almost no investment required on your end. If you find success or have capital available, investing in your own inventory can provide higher margins and more growth potential.
Good luck and enjoy the ride!