With the rapid growth of the CBD industry, there are many people looking for ways to start their own online CBD shop. This is, in part due to the market’s global projected compound growth rate of 55%, and also because 60% of all CBD sales are made online.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana, CBD does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) so users cannot ‘get high’ from using it. This distinction is important as it is why CBD with a THC level below 0.05% is legal in the UK, while marijuana use remains restricted. The reason that CBD has grown in popularity is partly that it has been legalised, and partly due to the range of therapeutic benefits associated with the product’s antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. CBD products are linked to the relief of conditions such as anxiety, depression, IBS and it is routinely used for pain relief.
In the UK, CBD products have a market size of 50 million pounds annually. The UK Cannabis Trades Association estimates that the CBD use has doubled in a year and the number of people using CBD oil has reached around 300 000.
The major hurdle for people wanting to start a CBD online shop is the number of regulations around the product. Issues include which platform to use to create a website (and who has control over the website) as well as how to accept payments.
Can I sell CBD products on Shopify?
One of the key decisions that you will need to make when setting up your CBD shop is which Ecommerce platform to use. Shopify is one of the leading platforms largely because it is so easy to set up and use even if you have no previous Ecommerce experience.
For start-ups in most niches Shopify is a perfect fit, but it may not be the best option if you’re wanting to set up an online shop selling CBD oils. Because Shopify is a private company and your website is hosted by them, they have complete control over who sells through their platform and what they sell. Effectively this means that Shopify has control over your website, and it can be shut down without prior notice if you are deemed to be in violation of their terms and conditions.
CBD is considered ‘high risk’ at a federal level in the US as it is included in the same classification as cannabis, this ‘high risk’ status means that it is more likely to be subject to review. In fact, Shopify has been actively shutting down Ecommerce stores on its platform that sell and distribute CBD products. This is because, according to Shopify’s CEO, Tobias Lütke, CBD belongs to an industry that is deemed a legal ‘grey area’ and they do not want to risk the company’s reputation by allowing the sale and distribution of a product that is prohibited in many countries.
** Update – June 2019 **
Having recently spoken to a number of CBD companies who are now using Shopify, they have been told that it is ok to sell CBD products on their platform as long as you use a payment gateway other than Shopify’s default payment processor.
We would still advise you to be cautious when making the decision on what platform to use when building your CBD website. Continue reading to find out what we suggest…
What are the alternatives to a Shopify website? Use WordPress & WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an excellent alternative to Shopify for selling CBD products. The most important difference for online shop owners is that you have full control of the website, and there is no risk of WooCommerce shutting your site down.
WooCommerce is an open-source Ecommerce plugin for WordPress that provides a full-featured Shopify alternative offering everything that you need to set up and begin selling CBD products online.
Is There Any Way to Transfer Your Shopify Website to WooCommerce?
There are two main options for transferring the contents of your site to WooCommerce: manually or using a plugin such as Cart2Cart. Remember that you’ll need to set up hosting and redirect your nameservers before you can get started. These workarounds require the complete reconstruction of your site on a new platform, so it is much better to do set up your CBD shop on WooCommerce at the start rather than using Shopify to start then switching to WooCommerce.
Transfer Shopify Products Manually to WooCommerce
Here you can transfer each of the products manually, using copy and paste. This is an incredibly time-consuming process and will inevitably lead to human error creeping in as well as much frustration.
Use Migration Software to transfer your Shopify Website
Using a third-party plugin such as Cart2Cart or LitExtension allows for the seamless transfer of information from your Shopify store to WooCommerce.
You can transfer products including the product name, full description and all details. You can also import the price, sale price, URL, meta details, images, all variant information, product categories, and manufacturer details. Customer and order information can all be imported, along with blog posts and pages. This is a paid-for service, but the flexible pricing options mean that you only pay for what you use.
What About Accepting Payments?
Once you’ve decided on your Ecommerce shop platform, it’s time to think about how you will be accepting payments. Because CBD is classified as ‘high-risk’, using popular payment gateways such as Paypal and Stripe isn’t a good option. There are numerous cases where CBD online shop owners have had their accounts closed without notice, and their funds were frozen.
The most important takeaways from this article are the risks associated with using Shopify for a CBD Online Store, and an excellent alternative that WooCommerce provides. With an online WooCommerce store you have full control which means that it cannot easily be shut down.