If you run a brick-and-mortar vape shop, you’ve been through a lot over the past couple of years. During the COVID shutdowns of 2020, you might have faced a long stretch in which you were unable to do business at all – and when things started to get back to normal for other businesses, your problems only continued. By the end of 2020, many people had drastically changed their purchasing habits and were buying things online whenever possible. You probably reopened your vape shop only to find that you suddenly had fewer customers than before.
Things haven’t gotten better for the American vaping industry in 2021. For starters, the PMTA process has been absolutely miserable for e-liquid makers, with virtually all flavored vape juices receiving marketing denial orders from the FDA. Dozens of lawsuits against the FDA are now pending, allowing some of the affected products to remain on the market for now. In the meantime, though, many e-liquid makers aren’t waiting and have begun using synthetic nicotine in their products under the assumption that the FDA doesn’t have the authority to regulate nicotine if it doesn’t come from tobacco. That’s left a good selection of e-liquid flavors on the market for the time being, but you certainly have fewer products to sell now than you did a year ago.
Why Your Vape Shop Needs to Evolve in 2022
Although the changes that have taken place over the past two years have been bad for the vaping industry as a whole, there is one change that can potentially be good for brick-and-mortar vape shops. The federal government’s budget for the 2021 fiscal year included language ordering the postal service to stop carrying vaping products to consumers. The USPS finally implemented the vape mail ban in October. In some regions, online vape shops are still able to ship to customers via private courier services. There are many regions, however, that the couriers don’t reach. In those regions, vapers have no choice but to resume going to their local vape shops – and even where online purchasing is still an option, the shipping fees are high. Either way, you stand to regain lost customers in 2022, and you should be ready for them.
The People Who Enter Your Vape Shop in 2022 Won’t Always Be New Vapers
As you consider what your strategy will be and what products you’ll stock in your vape shop in 2022, one of the things you should think about is the fact that the people who enter your shop for the first time won’t be exactly the same as the ones who might have entered a few years ago. In the past, it’s likely that most of your new customers were completely new to vaping. You walked them through the process. You recommended the devices and showed your customers how to set them up. You answered questions and walked your customers through the transition from smoking to vaping.
Today, though, you’re less likely to spend your time shepherding smokers through the process of switching to vaping. It’s more likely that the people who visit your store are going to want to know what you have to offer for people seeking JUUL or Puff Bar alternatives. The reasons for that are threefold.
- Some people who previously bought JUUL and Puff Bar online now can’t due to shipping restrictions.
- Due to federal restrictions on flavors for pre-filled pod-based e-cigarettes, JUUL pods are only available in tobacco and menthol flavors. In the past, some people sidestepped those restrictions by importing pods from overseas. These days, however, overseas sellers have largely stopped shipping JUUL pods to the United States due to the vape mail ban.
- Puff Bars and other disposable vapes have become increasingly difficult to find at traditional tobacco retailers. Many gas stations and convenience stores have stopped carrying disposable vapes.
You should keep these things in mind as you plan your vape shop’s product strategy for 2022. It may be wise to carry disposable vapes if you can get them. It’s also a good idea to have a simple pod-based device that you can offer to people looking for a JUUL alternative.
Synthetic Nicotine Vape Juice Is the Big Product for 2022
The next thing that you need to think about as you plan your product strategy for the coming year is that many of the biggest e-liquid brands are switching over to synthetic nicotine. The problem with tobacco-free nicotine, however, is that the laboratories have had difficulty making enough of it to satisfy the massive demand. If a manufacturer has committed itself to transitioning to a fully synthetic product lineup, the available supply of synthetic nicotine is going to limit that manufacturer’s ability to produce products.
It would be wise for you to plan ahead by stocking up on as much synthetic nicotine vape juice as you possibly can right now. There will almost definitely be supply chain issues for e-liquid in 2022, and you’ll want to make sure that the potential product shortage doesn’t end up affecting your vape shop.
Consider Stocking Nicotine Pouches in Your Vape Shop
The final thing to consider as you plan your vape shop’s product strategy for 2022 is that the nature of alternative nicotine products is changing. Until recently, people who wanted to switch from smoking to a less harmful form of nicotine basically had two options. They could vape, or they could buy traditional nicotine replacement products. These days, though, a third alternative – nicotine pouches – has become increasingly popular. They’re so popular, in fact, that some people have actually stopped vaping and have switched to pouches instead.
In short, it’s highly likely that people are going to begin asking you about nicotine pouches in 2022 if they aren’t already. With all of the regulatory problems that the vaping industry has experienced this year, many people are looking for an alternative that may not have the same supply chain issues. It’s very probable that many vapers will consider switching to nicotine pouches in 2022, so you should ensure that your vape shop is ready for that trend.
Jason Artman is the owner and author of eCig One. A professional freelance writer and SEO consultant with more than a decade of experience, Jason works with vaping companies around the world to increase their targeted web traffic and improve their revenue.