The popularity of vaping is increasing with British vapers taking up ecigarettes at a rate faster than anywhere else in Europe. With that in mind it’s quite possible that you are thinking of starting your own eliquid business.
As with any new business there’s lots to consider, so Eliquid Solutions has produced a brief guide of things to consider when you are thinking of starting out.
Do Your Research
If you’re opening a shop is there a demand where you are? Are there wall-to-wall vape businesses around you? As with anything that seems easy there’ll be a lot of people trying it. The recent regulation changes have helped somewhat to leave only the serious players in place, but you’ll still need to know your competitors and the market like the back of your hand.
Having a website is important even if you are starting a bricks and mortar shop. A website has the advantage of having low overheads and your customers will always know where to find you. For cost reasons it has the natural advantage of being a great option as a starting place for a business.
One of the most important elements of an online vape business is the recipe – get this wrong and you simply don’t have a business. Everything else aside, if people don’t like the eliquid they simply won’t come back. They won’t tell people (or they’ll say how much they dislike it) and you won’t make any sales.
If you’re creating your own you can test recipes among friends and colleagues and take their comments on board. Be wary of selling them – even at a reduced price – as all eliquids that are for sale have to be TPD compliant, which means testing, analysing and submitting the results to the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency for approval.
You’ll quickly discover the recipes that work – and the ones that don’t.
If you’re planning on stocking another brand’s eliquid be sure to get the good stuff. High quality brands will guarantee happy customers and draw them to your business. The downside to this is that promoting someone else’s product does little for your business, so make sure you stand out from the rest. This is where branding comes in.
Good branding is crucial. This is what makes your vape shop or business stand out from the others. What’s your angle? Are you high end with a clean cut and feel? Are you fun-looking but the customers know the product is high quality.
Find your USP, Unique Selling Proposition – it’s the single thing you do that no-one else does. And the key word is unique… it means there’s only one of this in the world and it’s yours. Are you faster, older, better, bigger – whatever that USP is you need to shout about it (if others are doing everything the same but they’re not saying it you get the chance to get in first).
These days everything vaping is also of a much higher standard. Gone are the days of poor products and poor packaging being acceptable. Just look at some of the latest innovation in hardware – there’s touch screen vaping, dry hit detection and prevention.
But in this environment you can potentially win market share easily. Take a really good product range, combine it with some impressive marketing and it’s possible to make huge advances against your competition.
Marketing is another crucial element of any business. You’ve got a great product and great branding but without traffic how will you sell any of it? As a nicotine product it’s tougher to market eliquid and vaping hardware along the normal routes of marketing, especially online. For example you can’t use certain online marketing channels. But use of social media is key. You can’t advertise on Facebook or Google Adwords, but you can use your Facebook and Twitter pages to promote your business. Competitions and giveaways can be a good source of traffic, and if you’ve set up a shop, local advertising can help create awareness. Use your customers – word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools available.
If you’re online how will you make and distribute the products. Starting off it’s likely to be taking the products down to the post office each day. But when you get bigger you’ll be needing a warehouse and proper courier service.
If you’re buying the product in large quantities do you have the room for storage? If it contains nicotine can you sell it before it degrades?
Compliance in the Eliquid Market
The regulatory environment has changed significantly of recent. The EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (translated as the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations in the UK) has had major changes to bottle size, packaging and how your eliquid can be sold to the public. There’s also an industry regulated Code of Conduct.
Bottles can only be 10ml, tanks can only hold 2ml – are just two of the changes for vaping.
For example to be compliant the new packaging must display a health warning – ‘This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance’ and covering at least 30% of the two largest surfaces. The packaging must also declare the ingredients in descending order of weight and details of the flavourings must be listed. The nicotine delivery per dose must be displayed.
Shelf life, storage instructions and batch numbers… you’ll need to be aware of all these legal points to trade successfully.
If you’re buying from a good supplier they’ll have these covered but you should still know the rules. If your supplier is not compliant it’s your business that will suffer, so it pays to be aware.