How to Start Selling CBD as a Retailer

The CBD industry isn’t just one that’s extremely attractive for brands – it also holds incredible appeal for retailers. Gas stations, convenience stores and even health food stores are stepping in and becoming CBD retailers. CBD has also been a boon for vape shops. With regulations severely curtailing the vaping industry’s ability to release new products, vape shops across the country have struggled to find new options for generating revenue. For some vape shops, the revenue earned from selling CBD products has even begun to outpace the revenue earned from vape gear.

If you own a retail store, then, it’s extremely likely that you have looked at CBD and have an eye on the potential profits that you might earn from entering that niche. As you’re about to learn, though, becoming a CBD retailer isn’t necessarily easy, nor does it guarantee that you’re immediately going to begin reaping huge profits. 

These are the things that you’ll need to do to become a CBD retailer.

Find a Supplier That Positions You for Success

In order to begin selling CBD products, you’ll need to find a source for those products – and you’re quickly going to find that the CBD industry is absolutely flooded with wholesalers and suppliers. Before you choose a supplier, you’ll want to investigate that company’s business model carefully. Some CBD suppliers are pure wholesalers in the sense that they don’t sell directly to the public. Others are primarily retail operations, but they’ll also sell to resellers at slightly reduced prices.

It’s wise to consider buying your CBD products directly from the brands that make them. It may mean that you won’t be able to get all of your products from a single source, but you’ll probably get the best prices. Most importantly, a good supplier can help to position you for success by providing advice about how to market and display the products. Crescent Canna, for example, provides a display case with your order that’s pre-stocked and ready to present the products in the best possible light.

Find a Supplier With Proven Product Quality

Finding the right CBD supplier isn’t just a matter of finding the company that’ll give you the best chance of success; it’s also about ensuring you’ll end up with a high-quality product that people want to buy. 

As long as the CBD industry has existed, there have been issues with inaccurate product labeling. CBD products have been repeatedly tested by third parties, and a surprisingly high number of those products have turned out to contain less CBD than advertised. Some products have even turned out to be completely free of CBD. Though the industry has been aware of the problem for years, the situation hasn’t improved. If you take a random sampling of CBD products from a variety of different brands, it’s virtually guaranteed that you’ll find a significant number of products with inaccurate labels.

  • In 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in which 84 CBD products from 31 different brands were tested for their cannabinoid content. Of the 84 products, 36 contained less CBD than what was claimed on their labels. 
  • In 2019, the CBS News affiliate in Denver, Colorado brought nine CBD products to a third-party lab for testing. Two of the tested products contained less CBD than what was claimed on their labels.
  • In 2019, the FDA tested 21 different CBD products that listed specific concentrations of CBD on their labels and found that, of those, only seven products were within 20 percent of the CBD content claimed on their labels.

These test results underscore the need to find CBD products that are what they claim to be. Your supplier should be able to provide you with test results proving that the products you’ll be selling have accurate labels.

Be Ready to Answer Questions About CBD

When you begin selling CBD products in your store, the first people who will see those products will be your existing customers. Set up an attractive display to ensure that people will see the products and will be curious about them. 

It’s likely that people will ask questions about CBD – “What is this stuff for?” “Does it really work?” Be prepared to answer those questions. Remember that you’ll need to tread carefully, though, and you’ll need to answer the questions without claiming that CBD has any medical benefits. If you sell CBD as it is, you’re selling a dietary supplement. If you sell CBD as a remedy for something, you’re selling a drug without FDA approval. Make sure that your employees know the difference and understand what they can and can’t say.

Do Everything Possible to Differentiate Your CBD Business

When you begin selling CBD products in your store, your biggest opportunity won’t be selling those products to your existing customers – it’ll be in bringing new people to your store who don’t currently shop there. If your CBD operation is strong enough, it has the potential to expand your customer base – and many of the customers who buy CBD products from your store may then go on to buy other products as well. 

To grow your CBD business to that level, though, you’ll need to differentiate yourself from the other retailers in your area who are doing the same thing as you. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, you’ll be competing with a wide variety of businesses ranging from vape shops to health food stores. You’ll need to find some way to stand out. Here are a few ideas that may help.

  • Differentiate your business by becoming known as the seller with the biggest variety of CBD products – or the lowest prices – in your area.
  • Curate interesting product bundles that encourage curious consumers to try CBD for the first time. An introductory pack containing a bottle of CBD oil along with a CBD pain roller, a bottle of CBD gummies and a CBD bath bomb, for example, gives people several different ways of trying CBD.
  • Consider holding a special event. You could ask a representative from a CBD brand, for instance, to come to your store and give a presentation. Offer door prizes to encourage a strong turnout.

Adding CBD products to your retail store may not be a quick and easy path to profit, but the potential is enormous. If you choose the right supplier and have a high-quality product to sell, though, you’ve already cleared the first hurdle. From there, it’s simply a matter of differentiating your CBD business and making sure that you get noticed.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.