Whether you are looking for a home appliance, clothes or even food (among many other things), where do you look first? The internet. It makes sense after all. You have instant access to virtually any piece of information you need. Pricing, reviews, brands, stores, etc. – everything is online. It’s no surprise that year after year, online sales have consistently grown over the past 20 years.
One of the largest industries to see online success in terms of sheer sales has been the vaping market. In the early 2000s, vape products were only sold online. And while both large and small companies started venturing into the retail world, it didn’t really catch on as the internet made the entire purchasing process a breeze for consumers. But then, something changed.
Vaping was no longer viewed as a fad. It was no longer just a substitute for tobacco cigarettes. Vaping turned into a revolution and a lifestyle. That’s when vape shops started popping up all over the world. Convenience was no longer a driving force behind a person’s decision to buy a vape product. People wanted to see the options first hand. They also wanted to be part of a culture and community. That’s why no matter where you go, you will see most vape shops packed with people. And, the numbers back that up. According to a study 2 years ago, vape shops averaged $300,000 USD in annual sales in the USA. That number is likely significantly higher this year.
Stores Eating into Online Sales
We are all familiar with Big Tobacco. Say what you will about them but the one thing they don’t get wrong are their investments. Five years ago, Big Tobacco companies were buying online e-cigarette companies like there was no tomorrow. That seemed to have worked out really well for them. But what about nowadays? When is the last time you heard of a Big Tobacco company buying a predominantly online vape store? It’s been a while.
However, it seems like Big Tobacco’s new strategy is to acquire large vape chains. We have seen this with BAT’s recent acquisition of Twisp and Altria’s investment in Avail Vapor LLC. Both of these vape companies have a huge presence in the retail world (Twisp operates 66 stores while Avail Vapor operates 102 over 12 states in America). Moreover, Altria’s flagship e-cigarette brand, MarkTen, is sold in 65,000 stores. These are quite hard to find online while they hold a 13.5% market share in the USA.
Online sales may still be a major factor going forward but it seems like they are certainly not the wave of the future.
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