Since its legalization in many US states, the CBD and hemp industry has witnessed exponential growth. In 2019, there was a steep 700% increase in consumer demand for CBD-based products. Another emerging trend most people are still unaware of is the growing number of online hemp stores.
According to Brightfield Group, CBD online sales climbed steadily, going from 25% in Q3-2019 to 29% in Q1-2020. COVID-19 accelerated this trend, with 47% of CBD consumers purchasing CBD online in Q2-2020. In other words, this is the right time to take your brick-and-mortar CBD business online.
However, running an online CBD store is quite different from running its walk-in counterpart. Your store is only as good as the user experience your eCommerce website provides. And the user experience mostly comes down to choosing the right eCommerce platform.
What Are Your Options?
With the right platform, you can build a store that offers a secure and seamless shopping experience. As a business owner, choosing the right platform for your CBD online store is going to be a huge decision.
You will be investing a considerable amount of money, time, and other resources into starting an online CBD business. You need to make sure you choose a platform that best fits your needs and budget. Not just for today, but as your business grows.
Why Build Your CBD Store on Shopify?
Shopify is a comprehensive eCommerce solution for your online hemp store. As one of the leading platforms, it not only allows you to build an online store, but promote your products globally. Here are a few key features that make Shopify one of the best ecommerce platforms.
- It is easy to navigate and offers a seamless user experience.
- No need to worry about configuring servers or databases, as it is a hosted solution.
- The templates, themes, and widgets are fully responsive, offering a fantastic user experience across devices.
- The basic plan starts at just $29 per month. Most importantly, you can get abandoned cart saving functionality on all monthly plans.
- You can calculate US, Canadian, and EU tax rates automatically.
- The built-in Shopify Shipping offers many discounts.
- Multi-currency selling is possible – but you will need a third-party app to implement it properly.
- You can create versions of your store in different languages.
- The built-in email marketing tool allows you to create a list of up to 2,500 subscribers at no extra cost.
- The platform offers 24/7 support via email, phone, or live chat. Besides, there are several online support communities.
- The built-in SEO tool allows you to drive organic traffic to your CBD online store.
- You can also use a built-in blog for marketing your products.
- A virtually unlimited number of third-party apps make customization easy.
- You can manage your store using either iOS or Android apps or both.
- The built-in Shopify Payments service charges no transaction fees. You can also use more than 100 third-party payment apps.
- With a 14-day free trial, you can try it before you buy it.
- It’s scalable. You can add as many new products as you want with just a few clicks.
- Shopify delivers both speed and security. These factors are essential for gaining consumer trust.
- Shopify is based in Canada, where cannabis is legalized for medicinal and recreational purposes. It reduces the legal vulnerability of your CBD store.
That said, Shopify does have a few shortfalls.
- The built-in payment gateway is not available for a CBD online store. But, you can use third-party payment gateways, namely DigiPay and Pinwheel, which accept payments for CBD and hemp-derived products.
- The email marketing functionality is pretty elementary. However, you can use third-party apps like MailChimp for better email marketing.
- When using a third-party app or a Shopify expert, you have to confirm whether they work with a CBD online store. Fortunately, there are many CBD-friendly apps, features, and themes.
Why Build Your CBD Store on WooCommerce?
The WordPress eCommerce plugin, WooCommerce is another reliable option for opening a CBD online store. If you already have a WordPress website for your brick-and-mortar CBD store, this would be a great eCommerce option.
Here’s what makes WooCommerce tick for CBD entrepreneurs.
- As it is open-source, the basic plugin is available free of cost.
- It is SEO-friendly and highly customizable with many third-party themes, apps, and features.
- Being a CMS, it is content and user-friendly.
- WooCommerce is secure and supports several payment gateways.
- It also comes with cannabis-specific WordPress plugins.
- Apart from the official WooCommerce support, it boasts growing community support from developers across the globe.
- It offers eCommerce-specific features like order and customer management, web analytics, and stats.
- The easy-to-use third-party app integration allows you to customize your CBD online store as you like.
Just like Shopify, WooCommerce comes with a few shortfalls of its own.
- Maintaining a multicurrency store on WooCommerce is difficult.
- Similarly, using the wishlist feature can be challenging.
- It requires extensive web development.
- Although the plugin is free, you have to pay for third-party themes, apps, and features. These costs can quickly add up.
- You have to find a CBD store-friendly hosting provider – as this is not a hosted solution like Shopify.
- You will need a thorough command over WordPress maintenance to keep your WooCommerce-based online hemp store updated and secure.
- Finally, WooCommerce is known to have payment gateway issues, specifically for CBD stores. It does offer two CBD-friendly payment gateways, Square (for selling CBD in the US) and Viva Wallet (for selling CBD in the EU region). You can’t use the WooCommerce Payments service.
Why Hire Professional eCommerce Developers?
Anyone can build an online store these days – but not everyone can build one that actually brings in sales. Whether it is Shopify or WooCommerce, the drag-and-drop approach website building tool will take you only so far. If you need a truly flawless, user-friendly, and highly secure CBD online store that sells, you need expert web development.
Besides, your online hemp store will require continuous support to ensure zero downtime and exceptional user experience, which is possible only if expert support is available. Professional ecommerce developers can offer your online store the competitive edge to stay ahead of your competitors.
Over to You
As you can see, both Shopify and WooCommerce are the excellent platforms for building your online store. However, if you want a quick, reasonably-priced, and robust eCommerce solution, our expert take is that Shopify is the way to go.
It saves the hassle of looking for hosting solutions and provides secure and user-friendly design. With an experienced web development company like CSP Marketing Solutions, you can build a customized CBD e-store that generates strong results. We are experts in building performance-driven, user-focused, and secure CBD online stores – and we’re happy to help get yours off the ground.
Talk to our experts today to learn about the next steps.
In addition to eCommerce website design, our team is equipped to help you with everything from SEO and content creation to web development and maintenance. Let us be your one-stop shop for eCommerce success!