In 2021, when online shopping is growing and booming because of the global pandemic, businesses worldwide strive to fulfill their customers’ needs and increase their online sales. Companies are shifting their efforts more towards the internet as eCommerce surges amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the new year came with surprises and new laws. Some of which can significantly impact one of the fastest-growing, billion dollar industries, leave thousands of businesses out of the game, and halt their online sales. A coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress in December 2020 will ban U.S. Mail shipments of vaping products; thus, thousands of vape stores will not be able to sell their products online. The act commonly referred to as the “vape mail ban” will significantly affect vape consumers and vape companies who’ll need to find a way to sustain their business despite the unexpected shift of events.
What Does the New Law Mean and Which Carriers Will Change Policies Regarding Vaping Products?
“Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,” known as the “vape mail ban,” signed by the former president Trump, is more than its name suggests. It not only prevents online sales of e-cigarettes to children, it also instructs the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to prohibit shipment of all vapor products through the U.S. mail. Vape companies would have to rely on private carriers for such shipments, which can be pricey and sometimes not available in some regions. Moreover, the major private delivery companies such as FedEx and UPS have also issued policy changes banning vaping products’ shipment. DHL had already eliminated the shipping of vaping products in the U.S. before the “vape mail ban.”
The vape mail ban isn’t good news for vapers and vape companies. In short, the new law puts vaping products into the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (PACT) Act, which prohibits the U.S. Postal Service from allowing shipments of tobacco products — subject to certain exceptions. In that case, there are specific package labeling and weight requirements, as well as age-verification requirements. From March 28, 2021, recipients of all vaping products purchased online will have to present ID and sign for their delivery. The “vape mail ban” will go into effect on April 27, 2021. The postal ban now will include all e-liquid and oil vaping devices, regardless of the nicotine content; CBD and Delta-8 THC liquids and oils; and every related component, part, or accessory intended for vaping.
The new law will force many companies to discontinue U.S. online sales. Now that people rely on online orders more than ever before, and many local shops had to close due to the pandemic, vape companies will need to find a way out of the situation and increase sales even if it’s not online.
How to Increase Vape Sales without Selling Products Online
When online shopping is no longer an option, where can vape businesses reach their customers, and how can they survive in the new reality? Many brick-and-mortar stores had to close due to the pandemic, and many brands started selling solely online. For such brands, when there is no alternative to online shopping, the way to increase sales is wholesale. This allows businesses to sell vapor products in large quantities to retailers and local stores.
Even if you didn’t offer your products wholesale before the law, now is a perfect time to dedicate a specific page to it and attract other companies to buy from you to sell in their stores. While selling in large quantities means selling for lower prices, wholesale is a great way to sustain a business while figuring out the steps to survive in the new reality.
2. Digital Marketing
The internet is an escape from the real world where a deadly virus is spreading from person to person and where a new law affects thousands of vaping companies.
Regardless of the type of business, an online presence is a must to boost sales. Even when you can’t sell vape products online, you can still use the power of digital marketing to increase sales or foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store.
Luckily, you don’t need a postal service for sending emails to your existing and prospective clients. Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools to increase sales of any kind. While you can’t sell vapes through email or on your website, you can share news, coupons, announcements, helpful content, or updates through email marketing campaigns. By sending out relevant emails, you can build relationships with customers, promote your business, or increase traffic to your store – all of which can increase your sales despite the “vape mail ban.” Email marketing offers an impressive return on investment (ROI), and in 2021, for every dollar, you spend on it, you can expect an average return of $42.
Search Engine Optimization
Although thousands of businesses will discontinue online sales of vape products, millions of users will still use the internet to find vape companies. It means then, even when online sales are halted, it’s essential to have a website so that people can see it. Search engine optimization is a crucial step to communicate the context of a website, so when the site is relevant to users’ queries, it appears in their results.
3. Local SEO
Here’s good news for vaping companies – 368k online users in the U.S. search for a vape shop near them. It means people still visit local stores to buy vapor products. And here’s not such good news – even if you own a vape shop near the searcher’s area, the user may not see it. That’s because when keywords on Google include a location indicator in it, such as “near me,” “nearby,” “the best in,” etc. Google provides the local 3-pack above the list of pages in search results. It is a selection of the three best businesses related to a query. Appearing in the local 3-pack is vital for your vape shop, as only 8% of your prospective customers may load more businesses in the list (which is an option for searchers).
Optimizing for local search queries will improve your local rankings so you can increase foot traffic to your store. Factors such as relevance, proximity, and prominence determine your positions in local search results. Relevance determines if you provide what users need, in this case, vaporizer products. The distance between the searcher and your store helps Google understand if it’s helpful to include your business in a query. Prominence indicates how well-known your business is by analyzing online directories, links to your site, and online reviews. 46% of all Google searches are local, and by improving your positions in location-related queries, you’ll get more clients to your store and make more sales.
Appearing and improving your company’s local positions begins with adding and claiming your store on Google My Business, which creates a Google Map listing. You can’t rank well on Google maps without it. It’s also equally important to verify your business, as it tells Google you are the rightful owner of the store and have access to your business profile, which you will then optimize.
To verify your vape shop ownership, Google will send you a verification code to the address you provide. The process may take up to 2 weeks. Still, once you verify your business, you get full access to your business profile. Optimizing the Google My Business account is crucial for improving local rankings. You should provide information such as hours of operation, your website, description, and pictures of your store.
4. Local Content
Local content will help you target location-related keywords on your website that can help improve your local rankings. Local content will drive links from other websites, known as backlinks, that will boost your online rankings, as prominence is among the ranking factors in local queries.
The local content you write on your website can be about local recommendations such as the best restaurants to visit or the best things to do in the city. You can write about tourist attractions, local museums, local events, local news, or answers to frequently asked location-related questions. Moreover, you should optimize the content and include the name of the city in your title tag. Your meta description should briefly describe your vape store and feature the name of the city.
5. Attend local events, such as farmer’s markets or festivals, where you represent your store.
Marketing your brand at local events is an excellent way to increase brand exposure and gain more customers. There are countless vaping shows and events happening all around the country. Besides, you can join events such as farmer’s markets or local festivals to represent your business. These can help you get broad exposure to the local vaping community and build future partnerships. Here, you can also organize giveaways for your vape products or other products you sell in exchange for people leaving their email addresses. It’s a double win, as you can create an email list for your future email marketing campaigns, which can boost your sales. Besides, attending local events can get you local backlinks, which will improve your local rankings. 2021 is not such a lucky year for vapers and vape companies who will no longer be able to send and receive products in the mail, whether of nicotine, THC, CBD, Delta-8 THC, or anything else. Although the vape mail ban will undoubtedly have a considerable impact on vape businesses across the U.S., they can still survive in the new reality by implementing different marketing techniques and methods to increase sales. We hope the steps above can help sustain your business and increase sales, even when the new law goes into effect and online shopping will no longer be an option for millions of vapers in the U.S.