December 2016

Mastering the Vape Space: The Good Old Days are Gone

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By Norm Bour

Those of a “certain age,” ie, old, often lament about the “Good Old Days.”

Why, I remember when…fill in the blank. Houses were affordable. We weren’t tied to a telephone. There were only three television networks. And God forbid, there was no Internet!

Those of us who have been in the vape space for just a handful of years or longer can now jump on the bitch wagon.

“I remember when you could start a juice company with just a few thousand dollars.”

“Remember when we didn’t have to worry about labels or child protective tops, etc?”

The world as we knew it is no more and if you continue to run your vape business the way you did before, you will fail. Guaranteed.

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How to Fail in your Retail Shop

One of the biggest market separators in any business, and especially vape, is customer service. If you think your business competitor is the shop down the street, you may be right. But your business competitor is also the numerous online shops that can, without a doubt, sell stuff cheaper than you.

Your biggest competitor, even bigger than those two, is yourself.

Ego will kill more businesses than any bad economy, or, in this case, any deeming regulatory changes. If ever there was a chance to shine with your amazing customer service, it’s now.

And here’s the bright side of this scenario.

Your competition is shrinking weekly.

Maybe you were the first in your area to open and cringed every time another shop opened. Now the tide is reversing and it’s a matter of survival.

Another sure way to fail in your shop is to disregard the many laws that are in place and will be monitored and enforced.

We’re still hearing about shops not checking IDs and even mixing their own juices within their own shop.

Idiots.

How to Fail in your E-liquid Business

This area will see the largest collapse the fastest. By the time you read this, all liquid companies will need to supply their ingredient list to the FDA (December 31). But you know that many will not. Either out of neglect or because they just don’t know. The clock is ticking for companies to work on their Premarket Tobacco Authorizations (PMTA), but most will not do this either.

Section 905(b) of the Tobacco Control Act states: “If you own or operate a facility in the United States that manufactures, prepares, compounds, or processes an e-vapor product, which includes repackaging or otherwise changing the container, wrapper, or labeling of such product package, then you must register with FDA by the end of the year.”

This absolutely includes shops with their own lines as well.

The Future is NOW!

There are changes in the wind and in process right now, and many of them are positive and proactive, and not reactive.

Collaboration between companies is a trend we have predicted for a long time. We are seeing it between liquid companies and we know of a new magazine partnership that is being created which will benefit both parties.

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A new trade association called Vape Industry Business Exchange (VIBE) is in formation and will help brick and mortar shops by collectively offering the buying power of hundreds of locations. They are also forming the PMTA Exchange which will allow liquid manufacturers to lower their PMTA processing costs by 50 to 75 percent by piggy-backing on each other.

What have you seen that is positive and productive?

As we close out 2016 we now usher in a more mature vaping industry. The wild, wild west has been tamed by the new sheriff and for the time being, he is in control. As we crest into 2017 we may see the Cole-Bishop Bill pass and ideally give us a new predicate (grandfather’s) date.

Make no mistake.

Charles Darwin is watching us and if we don’t learn from the past—and from each other—the Good Old Days will be just a distant memory.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and creator of the VAPE U online programs. They offer services & resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also the host of Vape Radio, the largest vaping radio show in the world with more than 1.3 M downloads. Norm interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.
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