Vape Sales Are Skyrocketing. How Can Your Dispensary Claim Its Share?

Vape Sales Are Skyrocketing. How Can Your Dispensary Claim Its Share?

As the vape cartridge niche grows, be selective and refine your offerings.

July 17, 2018
Jolene Hansen

This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of Cannabis Dispensary. To subscribe, click here.

If you’re in the cannabis industry, vape sales are already on your radar. Combined vape sales in California, Colorado and Oregon totaled $742 million for the 12-month period ending February 2018, reports Greg Shoenfeld, vice president of operations for cannabis market-intelligence firm BDS Analytics. That translates to more than 20 million units. In California alone, vape sales for the period accounted for 71 percent of all concentrate sales and 19 percent of all dispensary sales.

The surging popularity is spawning waves of new vape companies, products and brands. With everyone hawking the “best-ever” cartridges and devices, finding winners for your dispensary gets more challenging every day. The insights offered here can help you meet consumer expectations for high-quality cartridges and user experiences, and keep satisfied customers coming through your doors.

1. Vet new products and companies thoroughly.

As inventory control manager for Medicine Man Denver, Josh Best handles inventory and ordering for the company’s three Colorado dispensaries. “Out of 10 new companies that come in the door with samples, at least half of those are cartridges or oil of some kind,” Best says. Outside of familiar, proven brands, most of the cartridges he sees are very similar, with few obvious differences in hardware quality.

Medicine Man’s first step is to obtain samples of all of a potential vendor’s cartridges. For Trey Fisher, the company’s director of marketing, that firsthand experience is essential to determining if cartridges—and their contents—make the cut. Personal feedback from staff on cartridge quality, including leakage and performance with different batteries, carries weight. “These companies need you to sell their products. … Make sure you do your due diligence,” Fisher says.

Sampling reduces risk, but defective cartridges are still common. Cartridge failures can reflect poorly on the vendor, but also on your dispensary. Poor return policies compound the problem. “A lot of [cartridge] companies have great return policies, but some don’t,” Fisher says. “If the company won’t back up products like that, definitely stay away.”

Vetting new SKUs goes beyond product in hand. Chris Driessen, president of Organa Brands U.S., the parent company of O.penVAPE, urges dispensary owners to “check the scoreboard” with analytics, validate what potential vendors tell you and challenge what you hear.

“Put those salespeople on blast,” Driessen says. “Everybody says their product is the best.” He recommends three questions to ask every vendor at your door:

  • How will a relationship with you drive more traffic through my door?
  • What differentiates your product from everyone else’s?
  • What are the value-adds I receive working with your business, outside of great product at a great price?

“Vendors should be providing you and your staff with training, in-store pop-ups and merchandising, and co-marketing programs. If they’re simply walking through the door with price and product, that’s a pretty good indicator they won’t be around for long,” he says. And don’t overlook production capacity. “In California right now, our business is up over 500 percent in 120 days. Make sure they can grow with you and satiate demand,” he adds.

To read the full article in Cannabis Dispensary's June 2018 issue, click here.

Top photo: © iprogressman | iStockphoto