Make no mistake, electronic cigarettes, e-liquid, and their supplementary parts will make you money, lots and lots of money. The industry will hit over 4 billion dollars in 2015 and will most likely double that in 2016. Vaping is in the news, politicians are talking about it, major investment banks are analyzing it, and at every stop light in America you can glance around and see people doing it. It’s time to position yourself to take full advantage of this rapidly growing market. But how?
Let’s start with the essentials:

1. Your customer is king- You must take every step to take care of the king; weather its keeping the products the king wants, delivering when the king wants, or providing the atmosphere the king wants, it is your job to make the king happy.

2. Your customer doesn’t need you- It’s time to take your ego out of your shop and start thinking about differentiating yourself from all the other competitors in your market. Start with these question: “What makes shopping here any better than shopping at my competitors? Why do my customers choose me? If you can’t think of anything then start asking your customers. The point is to remind yourself of what you actually do and what you actually offer so that you can actually improve your customer’s satisfaction and ultimately increase the number of customers coming into your shop. More customers means more money, period.

3. You don’t need to be everything to every customer- Think about Starbucks and why they’re so popular. Is it that they offer better coffee or every iteration of coffee and coffee paraphernalia in the coffee drinkers handbook, or is it that they make their customers feel like they’re somehow more sophisticated, hip, have better pallets, or like their part of some cool fraternity just for choosing to buy at their establishment? Upon examination I think you’ll find that Starbucks made the coffee shop cool again, caters to customers who want their kind of cool, and thus created a loyal following of returning customers who buy overpriced coffee. Genius.

You can be genius too. It’s actually not all that hard once your priorities are strait. First, know your customers and provide what your customers want. Second, create an environment that allows your customers to feel good about the purchases they are about to make. This is not rocket science, but you would be surprised at how many shop owners fail to cater to their customer’s needs by instead choosing to only sell products that they can get for dirt cheap and flip for marginal profits— or stated a little differently, “a lot of work for little return-on-investment.” This is the number one reason for the almost overnight expansion of Vape Only smoke shops appearing in every town in America, which 1) cater to their exact customer base only (i.e. people who vape), and 2) provide exactly what their customers are looking for (i.e. electronic cigarettes, accessories, and e-liquid). It should also be noted that upon any casual walk through of one of these Vape Only shops, that they are not killing their cash flows by sitting on tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of inventory waiting to be sold. Therefore, to set yourself apart from the competition and stand out to your customers all you really need to do is focus on what they want and how they want it presented.

The reason this formula is so successful is that now-a-days consumers have choices on where to buy—weather it be price-hunting for the best deal online or going into a local shop who caters to their exact needs—customers are more empowered and the shop owners who are catering to the new breed of customers are raking in the profits. The goal not only should be to sell products but to retain customers for as long as possible. If you’re one of those “one size fits all,” type of smoke shops you have probably already noticed the specialty shops cutting into your bottom line. Those customers used to be your customers but have now decided to go elsewhere because you are no longer meeting their needs. The good news is that it’s never too late to make the change that can substantially increase customer retention as well as increase the business’s bottom line.

As a shop owner, online retailer, or business to business level hustler there are a few things that we can all—more or less—agree on, namely that we all want to be rich, have more time for ourselves, and not shoot ourselves in the foot by making decisions that hurt our business. With the Vape Industry growing exponentially and the possibility of a whole new customer base to profit from, now is the time to make the changes to give you the competitive advantage you have always wanted. As the late, and often quoted writer Hunter S. Thompson once penned, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” SSA

 

James Deighan Headshot PhotoJames Deighan is Director of Marketing with JJuice LLC. Mr. Deighan has over 4 years of experience directly involved in the vape industry and 2 years as acting director of marketing for JJuice LLC. Prior that that, he had 4 years of business experience in Sales, Marketing, and Strategy at Qivana LLC.  He can be reached at 801-331-8919, or by email at [email protected] or visit his website at www.vapejjuice.com.