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Vape Business Investigation: How retailers of all kinds are profiting from vaping

January 6, 2020

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Photo: iStock

Ahead of its launch, the Vape Business team spoke to stores across the UK to find out how businesses of every type are benefiting from the opportunity vaping presents. Here, five top retailers give their advice for capitalising on the trend in 2020.

In a village
Retailer: Vince Malone – Premier TenbyStores, Pembrokeshire
How vaping works for us: We are moving to a bigger 1,500sq ft store in the new year and one area of focus will be our vaping range. I need to have a wide range of sizes and flavours available to have credibility and I need to make sure the team are aware of the market too. One section we’ve grown recently is our spirits and one big difference is that my staff know more about this market. It’s something we will work on in the new store.
What we’ve learned:
1. Changing trends add to risk Trends can change fast and it can add to the risk. We’re considering teaming up with a nearby vape shop who can supply our range.
2. Keep up with customers In a village or rural setting like ours a few customers staying nearby or changing their preference can completely alter our bestsellers.
3. Staff need more knowledge Our growth categories all have one thing in common: staff know what they’re talking about.

Photo: iStock

On a high street
Retailer: Kay Patel – Best-one Stratford
How vaping works for us: After a dip in sales, vaping has grown dramatically in the past six months. I now make enough from the category to pay the wages of one member of staff. A lot of this has come from the major brands which have emerged such as Logic, Juul and Vype. Even Nicocigs, which has been around since the start, generates good sales. One customer comes in regularly to buy 10 packs and I make a 40% margin.
What we’ve learned:
1. Vape stores aren’t the enemy We operate near vape stores in most of my sites and it doesn’t affect sales – particularly of bigger brand closed systems.
2. Work with suppliers Manufacturers provide cashback and rebates if you put their display units on your till. It doesn’t always look great but boosts profits.
3. Time of day counts We have pubs nearby and customers will come in during the evening to pick up a product. They often buy vape products alongside tobacco.

At a specialist store
Retailer: Nainesh Shah – Mayhew News, Central London
How vaping works for us: As a tobacco specialist we’ve been facing declining cigarette and cigar sales, so the rising sales of e-cigarettes have really helped. Since we’ve been stocking Juul I have been really amazed and they now outsell any other product by a factor of 10. It helps that they have an international reputation. Our store has a transient customer base so calculating average sales is difficult. I would say sales are around £5,000 to £6,000 per week.
What we’ve learned:
1. A good display makes sales easy We have replaced the tobacco
gantry with drawers and our vaping products now sit behind the
counter where our full range stands out.
2. Our rep helps our staff When we introduced Juul our rep sat down with the team and answered their questions. If there are any other queries, we can ring our rep.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Let your customers see the benefits Many of our loyal smokers have transferred to vaping and instantly see that they are not coughing as much

Photo: iStock

On a main road
Retailer: Harnek Sanghera – One Stop at the Saxon, Hartlepool
How vaping works for us: Our store has been open for two-and-a-half years and vaping sales are now very strong for us. High margins mean that we buy in £500 of products per month from suppliers but sell up to £400 every week. At first, we sold a lot of starter kits but we now sell liquids and, increasingly, pods
and capsules. Customers can buy a packet of cigarettes for £8-£9 or the equivalent – an e-liquid or set of capsules – for £2.50.
What we’ve learned:
1. Be competitive These products can be a distress purchase but we have loyal customers and charging the right price keeps them coming back.
2. Stock pods and capsules Customers are moving from mods to pens as major brands enter the market and develop new systems.
3. Educate staff As the vaping and e-cigarette category grows, customers have a lot of questions about products and I make

In an estate
Retailer: Sam Coldbeck – Premier Wharfedale Convenience, Hull
How vaping works for us: Our sales have not been affected by the health scares in the USA because I think customers still know e-cigarettes are a healthier option. Our bestselling liquids are the cheaper ones: 88 at £1 and Edge at three for £5. We want to stock the newest products but, in return, suppliers need to take slower-selling lines off our hands. Our vapers are people who have smoked for 30 or 40 years and are looking for help to quit.
What we’ve learned
1. New opportunities are here We sell Nordic Spirit which are tobacco free “pouches”. They are £6.50 per pack and come in two flavours.
2. Capitalise on the post-tobacco world We supply Nordic Spirit to the nearby prison but Logic is also helping prisoners quit smoking. Our range serves them after release.
3. Set the right balance Hull still has many smokers and we work hard to stay competitive on tobacco. This won’t change but vaping products add
another choice.