Recent slow downs in vape shops across the country


#1

I have seen many vape shop owners report that they are seeing a slow down in business this year. There could be a few reasons for that, so I can’t give you a diagnosis, but I can help you diagnose yourself.

Here’s what I recommend:

  • Look at Last year’s numbers at this time. Use Retail Week, not calendar date. Was there a dip? If so, how much? Is this a regular slow time in your area?
  • now that you have numbers from LY, how off are you? How many transactions? How much sales? Knowing this will empower your strategy.
  • Here’s some ideas for strategy:
    Run a promotion using a coupon.
    Send a text, email and social post to your customers
    Give them a deadline! End of week. Make this a good discount.
    Host a special event. Are there any events happening around you that you can piggy back off of?
    Get ideas from your employees too.
  • Track everything! Don’t do anything in retail without being able to look back and see how it worked.

I hope this helps. If anyone else has ideas or proof of something that has worked, let us all know.


#2

We have noticed this trend as well. I would say a lot of it has to do with FDA changes and the premium bulk juice market. You can now buy 240ml of premium juice online for less than what many vape shops are charging for a 30ml bottle. Vape shops might want to look into doing online retail in order to pick up some sales where their walk-in sales have declined.


#3

Thanks so much for the contribution to the forum. We’re happy to have you!

We agree that ecommerce could be a way to expand revenue, at the very least to support online ordering for your customers and give them another way to give the vape shop a sale.


#4

Hello, all!

To the point of consumers being able to purchase large amounts of juice online, unfortunately the seller is unable to compete with the price to attract online consumers.

I have recently found that the wholesalers are charging us retailers, who use them, the same price (or very close to) they charge their online consumers. This means we still cannot match or remotely compete with their pricing. These regulations are stiffening the competition among us all now, maybe even making the market more monopolistic, for lack of a better word. It may be an unintended consequence but what is happening just the same. :confused:

~Melanie w/EveryBuddyVapes
Cincinnati, Ohio


#5

Melanie,
I completely agree with your assessment. The one thing I have found to combat this is consistent, and extraordinary customer service. I would include customer education as well. My customers know they pay more at my store than online. The ones that buy some products online still end up coming back.
It wont be long until many manufactures that are not working toward cGMP will be going by the wayside. Hang in there and it should all work out :slight_smile:

J.R. Neans


#6

J.R.,

That is what I have been hanging on to - cGMP compliance for manufacturers thus shops closing because of it. I opened my shop with few newer e-juices and more of the national brands. Not because I didn’t want to initially support small businesses, but because I needed to focus my start-up monies on e-juices who would be able to survive after the first wave of FDA regs hit us.

My short-term business strategy was then a “good” one simply because I would then have more e-juices in stock than many of the other vape shops around me, thus being able to remain competitive considering I was the new kid on the block, so already working hard to get into the competitive market. At the end of the day, due to some personal issues faced earlier this year, that hit us professionally, we just no longer have the financial means to keep hanging on. I, unfortunately, anticipate that my store front will be closed within the next couple of weeks. I am still trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but I fear I may have run out of rabbits…

Thanks for the response!!!

~Melanie w/EveryBuddyVapes
Cincinnati, Oh


#7

Melanie,

It doesn’t appear my replay came across. I may have an option for you. You are welcome to give me a call at 903-357-5671, or my cell at 512-363-0881.


#8

I see more and more people going back to cigs because of availability of vapor products. The 40% wholesale tax placed on vapor products here in Pa. did not help a bit. And the people that are still vaping are buying online to get out of the 40% plus no sales tax. We are turning into a coil depot, that is the bulk of our sales.
Juice if you don’t have there brand they leave, to many juice manufactures. All I here is Oh will they have it up town, why don’t you carry it. Because I am not going to carry 3000 different juice companies just to try and please everyone. Or if I do carry it I here I can get that cheaper online.


#9

Sorry to hear that @Hopper.

are coils the bulk of your sales in revenue or in volume?


#10

Volume is the bulk. More people buy there tanks online and expect us to carry every coil ever made. We only carry coils for the tanks we sell or did sell. I try to talk them about juice, OH I buy it up town for $11 for 120 ml and they make it up for me in the back. I just in because I need a coil and don’t want to drive 25 miles for one. 25 miles is the closet other vape shop.
With all the regs and laws how many shop are abiding to them?


#11

Good question, and it’s a shame that the other shop is making juice in the back. Not only is that illegal (because I doubt they are following the current regs), they are tarnishing the industry and all it’s going to take is an opportunistic politician to come in there and make a story out of it that destroys vaping’s public image.

What about reaching out to a new, better customer group? If these people are cheap-o’s, then why not get a better customer? (easier said than done, I know).

PS We had a discussion about coils in this post too.


#12

Finding a better customer base is a hard task. Don’t get me wrong we have a lot of great customers. But there’s always more to be had.


#13

I think the reason that the vape stores are seeing a decrease in business is because the industry as a whole has gone off in the wrong direction.

Like many folks who got in this industry, I got in in it because I thought I could provide a “way out” for folks that could never quit smoking AND give them a better product to use to do that. This industry has moved forward in introducing new hardware and “gimmick” juices way too fast and has driven itself into becoming a niche product for the young crowd.

I started in 2013 … not that long ago … using regular batteries and tanks (1300mah twist with an aero-tank or similar). When our first juice flavors came out (50/50) we were almost the only juice with ingredients and ratio listed on the label. We were also one of the few juice companies to use only natural extracts and no sweetners or other junk … just pure healthy stuff… There was no such thing as dripping or sub-ohm tanks. A person could quit smoking, save money and save themselves. As things progressed, it was evident that the industry was going south. Vape shops became places where a small “click” of cloud blowing young folks hung out.

Normal people seeking information and a way out of smoking stopped going to “vape shops”. Very few vape shops today even sell a starter product that a smoking adult can actually buy and use regular juice that only costs about $12 for a 15ml and lasts all week. It is so much easier to sell a 30ml bottle a day to a person not supporting a family that is sucking the juice down as fast as they can buy it. Plus, most vape shop staff don’t know how to sell either … they are order takers. They just keep getting the newest non-compliant “gimmick” juice someone came in and expunged about. I go behind counters in vape stores everyday and sell things they never sell because I am LISTENING to the customer and trying to help them.

Very sad … the saddest part is that the market for the future of vaping is people that STILL SMOKE. These folks worry bout two things … I waste too much money on smoking and I am killing myself. They are filled with guilt because they have not been able to quit and it is hurting their family. This is our market … but we do not cater to it. They do not care about or want to look at the latest 200watt box that goes through $100 a week in juice. They DESERVE the same joy we experienced in starting by saving money and our health. They DESERVE being able to experience the same journey we went on as we started at the beginning and then made our own choices as to how far we wanted to go with more advanced hardware and techniques.

I monitor the market very closely and have read many forum posts from those that went to a vape shop, were started with a sub-ohm kit, and quit within a few weeks because it cost WAY MORE than smoking. They are back on the forums trying to find a way to quit but getting no help. The cigarette companies are loving it because right after sub-ohm became big their sales started going back up and vape sales went down (and yes I get three reports a week on all vape and cigarette company sales and stock prices). DUH … we are not catering to the REAL market … the BIG market … people that need help quitting cigarettes.

I have seen a huge increase in sales though in SMOKE Shops. You know, the ones that sell glass and other paraphernalia the vape industry shies away from. They actually sell starter kits and 50/50 juice … and lots of it. They are the ones that are keeping the “vape shops” alive because they are creating NEW VAPERS.

Look, I am an active advocate of vaping and have every imaginable box and other mods and drippers and sub-ohm gizmos but I went there by choice. I got to take the journey that every new vaper deserves to take. Sadly, if everyone doesn’t wake up then the writing is on the wall. Does you local vape shop have quality starter kits and a wide variety of quality 50/50 juice? I doubt it. The real market (SMOKERS) need to start where we started … as in starter kits that burn a $12 bottle of juice a week. They need to feel the joy of stopping smoking AND saving money … that is what they are looking for. Then you have a lifetime customer that grows as their own pace.


#14

So other than a cigarette trade-in program and directly reaching out to smokers, what are the best ways to attract a current smoker and convert them to vaping?


#15

Believe it or not, I think it is just by being approachable.

Example 1 … When I am out and about and see someone smoking … I just take the time to go up to them, hand them a card and have a very brief conversation in which I introduce myself, tell them I quit after 35 years of smoking, and relate to them how nice it is to not have ashtrays around, burn holes in everything and not having to leave to go outside … then give them a card. I have been fortunate to help many people quit in this simple way.

Example 2 … probably the most important … When I am out and going into banks, stores, restaurant, etc. I never take my box mod and sub-ohm. I hang a 1300mah battery with a Volcano Inferno tank and 50/50 juice in it around my neck on a lanyard. (Yes, even though I have any vape I want and an unlimited supply of high VG juice I still vape 50/50 in a tank at least 60% of the time) Would it surprise you if I told you that almost every time I go out folks look at that little battery vape and say "Is that one of those electronic cigarettes? Do you like it? Were you able to stop smoking?"
I can tell you now that it never happens if I am carrying or wearing my box mod … .never.

I have customers that work in car dealerships, banks etc and have absolutely no interest in blowing clouds. They just like to vape and love that they quit smoking and are saving money and their health. And yes … they buy 100ml bottles of 50/50 juice from us and some have been buying the same juice / same flavor from us since 2013.

Being a responsible adult when using a vape in public and being responsive to folks around you that smoke is the most important thing you can do to promote this wonderful gift of vaping and bring new customers / vapers into the market.


#16

We sell a lot of quality starter kits, by volume it is second to coils. There is no way I could sell 15ml for $12. We sell 60ml for $15. Most of the people we talk to do like the mess with e-cigs. Most people who are trying to quit if they get juice on them a couple of times they’re done. Oh it’s to messy for me. Or one leaks in the purse or pocket there done. It’s the manufactures that are catering to the wrong people not the vape shop. Some times simpler is better, no fill no mess.


#17

@hopper Do you ever do any follow up with the people that buy the starter kits? What percentage of people would you say turn into regular customers?


#18

We see a lot them as return customers for juice and coils. But some start out coming in but as they upgrade they shop online. Then when find cheaper juice they shop online. They only stop buy if they are in a pinch or want to use my store as a showcase for there next upgrade.
Online is killing B & M. As long as vapors do not have to pay sales tax and 40% Pa. wholesale tax they will always shop online. Half the time they can buy a device cheaper online then I can at wholesale.


#19

But how will they test new flavors? I’ve seen complaints from eCommerce shop owners that can’t get new juices out there because their customers don’t know how they taste. I.e they only buy what they know. Opportunity for B&M?


#20

Yes for one bottle and then buy online. Or you do what I do and buy the sample pack. But I thought there is not supposed to be any new flavors unless you go through the FDA regs? I don’t know what the eCommerce shop owners have to complain about, they hold all the cards in pricing there juice cheaper then a B&M owner can sell it at.