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The CBD business is booming with seriously impressive industry growth in recent years, but if you have been keeping tabs on business trends, this won’t be news to you. However, you might be wondering if there’s still time to get involved in the industry, or has that ship sailed? Well, we have some good news. As of 2021, the global CBD market value is estimated at $3.5 billion, and it’s set to reach a whopping $13.4 billion by 2028. That means that there’s no time like the present to get involved by starting your own cannabis hemp business.
Let’s get started, and find out how to start a CBD business!
If you’re new to the world of cannabinoids, starting a CBD online business might seem a little daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Here, we’re going to outline how you can get started and where you can get some help along the way.
1. Identify Your Niche and Your Vision for the Brand
Before you start searching for a supplier or planning marketing campaigns, the first thing you need to do is identify your niche. This is a specialised area of focus, within the CBD market, that you can slot into.
To do this, you will need to take a look at your target audience. Are there any underserved or unmet needs for this demographic? Perhaps you can solve a specific problem using your product? That is where market research comes in.
Conducting Market Research
To find your target audience and how to serve them best, you’ll need to conduct in-depth market research. It can be time-consuming, but the information gathered will be invaluable to your business.
You will need to identify and familiarise yourself with the demographic that you’re targeting, as well as their needs, goals, frustrations, expectations, lifestyle choices, and even average income. By truly understanding your ideal customer, you can create a CBD brand that serves them, their needs, and their personal taste.
This information will help you decide which products to stock and how you’re going to sell them. You will also need to include your findings in your business plan, but we will come back to this in a moment. There are so many CBD business opportunities, and possibilities are only growing. Every day new innovative products are hitting the market, and more people are becoming interested in the cannabinoid.
Some of the Most Popular Cannabis Hemp Business Niches Include:
- CBD-infused food and beverages: Ingesting CBD provides a slow and steady release of CBD into the system, so consumers can enjoy the benefits of the cannabinoid throughout the course of the day. One of the benefits of ingesting CBD is that you don’t need to top up as often, as the effects are known to last for 6 to 8 hours. You can learn how to start selling CBD drinks here. Alternatively, if you’re wondering how to start a CBD gummies business, we can also help.
- Tinctures, oils, and oral sprays: CBD oils, tinctures and oral sprays are designed to be taken sublingually. That means that the product is placed under the tongue and held in the mouth for a minute or two before swallowing. This allows the body to absorb CBD molecules quickly and effectively, delivering them directly into the bloodstream. Consumers who take CBD in this way can avail of a fast onset of benefits. We talk about how to start a CBD oil business in more detail here.
- Supplements & capsules: Softgel capsules and pills are discreet and convenient ways for your consumers to take CBD. As CBD oil is encapsulated in a softgel casing, one does not need to experience the natural taste of CBD oil nor the mouthfeel associated with it.
- CBD-infused cosmetics: The global beauty industry is growing each year, and there is a newfound emphasis on natural, plant-based products. CBD is a plant extract, derived from the hemp plant, and it is incredibly good for the hair and skin. Therefore, there are ample opportunities to tap into this growing industry with a range of CBD-infused cosmetics. Learn more about starting a business in the beauty sector here.
Building a Business Plan
Once you have conducted thorough research on your target market and you’re satisfied with your understanding of your ideal customers, you can start working on your business plan. This is a document that clearly outlines what your business is, what you’re planning on selling, to whom, and how. It will also include budgets and financial projections.
Goals and Objectives
Your business plan will essentially act as a roadmap for your business. It will lay out short-term and long-term goals for your business, showing where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. It will clearly state your brand vision and objectives, along with solutions to potential drawbacks. If you are seeking financial support, you will need to share this document with potential investors and stakeholders.
Market Research Findings
When you’re creating this document, be sure to include the findings from your market and product research. In addition, you should describe, in detail, the products that you are going to sell and why you have chosen them for your target audience.
You should also include unique selling points (USPs). These are elements that make your products stand out from the crowd, elements that make your products better than what your competitors are offering.
Budgets & Funding
Next, you will need to include details about your finances. Firstly, you will need to estimate how much capital you need to launch your business. You can figure this out by breaking down expenses, one by one, and determining what can be done in-house and what you will need to outsource. Some of your main expenses may include:
- E-commerce site development
- Product and brand design
- Purchasing and storage of stock
- Customer service
When working out a budget, we suggest allocating some funding towards “unplanned” expenses. You never know when you may need some extra cash, and it’s better to always be prepared. Once you have figured out how much capital you need to get started, you will need to determine how many sales and how much time you will need to “break-even” monthly.
Detailed Marketing Strategy
Your business plan should include a detailed, but realistic, marketing strategy. Here, you will outline how you will acquire new customers and appeal to existing customers. Your marketing strategy will depend on your target market and your products. We will go into this in more detail shortly.
Building a complete business plan can be time-consuming and tedious, but it is essential for a successful cannabis hemp business. A well thought out and detailed business plan can not only help you avoid unnecessary expenditure, but it can help you get more out of your marketing campaigns and even secure funding in the future.
2. Decide on a Name and Buy a Domain
Once you have an in-depth understanding of your target market, you can decide on a brand name. Try to keep it short and sweet, and preferably easy to spell. It should be unique and resonate with your potential customers. But, your customers should be able to remember it easily too. This is key for online cannabis hemp businesses, as customers will be searching your brand name on search engines or social media. You don’t want them to confuse you with a similar brand.
Essentially, you need to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find your online store.
When you have decided on a name for your business, you can purchase a domain name. Domain names ending in .co.uk or .com are preferable, as they are easy to remember and look professional and trustworthy. If these are not available, .net or .org are suitable alternatives.
Try to steer clear of uncommon domain names, as they may confuse potential customers or look unprofessional. If customers are already apprehensive, possibly wondering if CBD oil businesses are a scam, they are highly unlikely to visit a site with an unusual domain name. Sticking to commonly used domains will help you portray your brand in a trustworthy manner.
3. Study up on Laws, Regulations, and Best Practices
When starting a cannabis hemp business, you will need to do some research in terms of regulations and guidelines for best practices. This can be time-consuming, but your dedication will pay off. Familiarising yourself with legal requirements will help you identify reputable suppliers. Similarly, you will have a better understanding of the standards that your customers will expect of you. It will also help you advertise your products in line with legal restrictions.
Growing Hemp in the UK
Even if you are not planning on growing hemp yourself, it is still important to be aware of the legal requirements for growers. This way, you can easily recognise reputable farmers when sourcing CBD extract. Equally, it will help identify trustworthy wholesale/white-label suppliers, as you will know what you look for when researching where they source their hemp extract.
To legally farm hemp in the UK, farmers need to acquire a specific license, issued from the Home Office. To do this, farmers need to submit an online application and provide details about the size and location of their farm, as well as proving that the seeds they are using are EU approved. Each new license costs £580 and £326 to renew it each growing season.
When farmers apply for this license, they are agreeing to a range of restrictions and regulations in relation to growing conditions. For instance, farmers must be careful where they grow hemp, on their land. Plants cannot be viewable from public spaces or schools. In addition, growers must agree to in-person audits and they must notify local police authorities.
Restrictions on THC Content
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a cannabinoid, like CBD. However, it has psychoactive properties, causing consumers to become intoxicated. According to UK legislation, THC is a controlled substance. In line with this legislation, all CBD products must contain less than 1 mg THC per finished product.
Likewise, all CBD products must be made from certified industrial hemp plants, which contain less than 0.2% THC. If products do not adhere to these limitations, you cannot legally sell, supply, or purchase them in the UK.
Strict Guidelines for Advertising
In addition, there are limitations on how you advertise your CBD products. In the UK, you cannot legally refer to your products as a form of medicine. Equally, you cannot claim that they can cure or treat any medical conditions.
Novel Foods Applications
Whilst you do not require a license to start your own cannabis hemp business, you are required to hold validated Novel Foods Applications for each of your products. This proves they have been held to a high standard of health and safety, and they’re safe for your customers.
Evidence of third-party testing is equally important, although it’s not a legal requirement. Seed to sale traceability is another element of best practice that you should consider. Both of the above show your commitment to quality assurance for your customers.
4. Make It Official, Register Your Cannabis Hemp Business
The next step, when starting your own cannabis hemp business, is registering your business. Whilst you may want to leave this until you are making money, it’s better to get it out of the way at the beginning. This is because many suppliers will need your company’s details and tax information before you can place an order.
If you are starting a CBD online business, you are engaging in what is known as “distance selling”. Therefore, there are certain rules that you will need to follow to ensure the safety of your customers. We recommend you research these legal requirements before setting up a website. This is because you may need to include certain information on your online store. You can also read more about this on our blog, “How to Start a CBD Business in the UK”.
5. Getting in Touch With Your Supplier
With your detailed business plan, brand vision, and knowledge of legal requirements in tow, you’re finally ready to contact your supplier. To ensure you’re getting your products from a reputable supplier, you should first check their accreditations.
How to Recognise a Reputable Supplier
A premium quality supplier will hold valid Novel Foods approval for each of their products. They should also hold up-to-date certificates of analysis (COAs). Third-party testing facilities generate a report, known as a COA, when they test a product. This report will show you a profile of all cannabinoids present in the product and their potencies. It will also prove that the product is safe for consumption.
Testing facilities will check for the presence of pesticides, moulds and bacteria. In addition, they will also test for residual solvents that may not have been filtered out after the extraction process.
We recommend checking the COA to ensure that the product contains the same amount of CBD as advertised. The COA will also confirm the product doesn’t contain more than the legal limit of THC.
When you’re researching a supplier, you should be able to find details about their certifications and compliance with UK law easily. For instance, you can find everything you need to know about Cannmed products on our website. You should only work with suppliers who are forthcoming with this information, as it shows their commitment to quality assurance and transparency.
Before you settle on a supplier, there are some other aspects that you should consider. You should look into each of the following:
- Where do they source their CBD extract? Is this source fully compliant with regulations and best practices?
- What extraction methods do they use?
- Are their prices competitive?
- Are there minimum order quantities?
- Do they offer additional services like private labelling or dropshipping?
Next, It’s Time to Get in Touch With the Supplier
If you have production, labelling and packaging facilities, you can keep costs down by opting for wholesale CBD. However, if the idea of creating your own product line is not something you’re interested in, you can still get involved in the CBD industry. You could become a distributor.
If you would prefer a ready-to-sell option, you can opt for white-label or private label product ranges instead. Let’s take a closer look at these options.
Here at Cannmed, we offer a wide range of bulk buy and wholesale options. You can choose from traditional oils or powdered forms of CBD, distillates or water-soluble options. In addition, you can choose from isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum options.
All of these wholesale products are third-party tested and made using premium-quality hemp extract, so you can rest assured you and your customers are getting the best quality products possible.
If you choose to become a CBD distributor, you can essentially act as a middleman, supplying smaller speciality brick and mortar or online stores with large quantities of CBD.
White-Label & Private Label CBD
If you would prefer a ready-made option, we have that covered too, with our white-label CBD product range. We can ship finished products right to your door. We can work with you to find packaging, labelling and branding options that suit your needs. Alternatively, we can ship finished products and you can label them at your own facilities.
To learn more about our wholesale and white-label product ranges, you can contact our dedicated sales team here for more information.
6. Getting an E-commerce Store Set Up
Once your products are en route, you can get to work on your website. If you’re well-versed in the realm of website design, you can piece together an e-commerce store for your new cannabis hemp business. However, if you have limited knowledge when it comes to Woo Commerce or Shopify, we suggest reaching out to a professional.
Your website isn’t just an online store, where your customers can purchase products. It also acts as an advertisement for your business. Therefore, you need to make sure it looks professional. It needs to function well, so your customers can easily find their way around.
Building a functioning and visually appealing e-commerce store is trickier than it might seem. It will take time to perfect. There are a couple of things you will need to consider when designing your site.
For instance, when you are designing product pages, you will need to ensure key product information is easily accessible. This means placing information about strength, dose, possible effects, where the hemp was sourced and how it was extracted, somewhere where your customers can see it. It’s best to display this in bite-sized nuggets, like bullet points, so the information is clear and concise.
When you are designing your website, you will also need to consider your customer’s buying journey. Using purpose-built plugins or apps will ensure a smooth transition from the product page to the shopping cart, to checkout. You will need to cater to all types of customers too, not just CBD connoisseurs. This means that first time buyers may require additional, in-depth information about how your product works and how they can use it.
You could also consider adding a self-assessment quiz or flow chart that customers can use to receive tailored product recommendations.
What Should You Include in a Product Description?
Writing product descriptions can be tedious and time-consuming, but unfortunately, it is not a “copy and paste” kind of job. Each product is different, and so you will need to provide customers with detailed information about each product and how to use it. You should only include accurate information, in terms that even newcomers can understand. Using industry jargon can be off-putting for new customers, and you should aim to encourage people of all experience levels.
Besides making sure product descriptions are accessible and fact-based, you will also need to avoid making medical claims, as we know there are legal restrictions on how you advertise your CBD products.
What Should I Avoid When Writing Product Descriptions?
You cannot claim that your products can cure, treat, prevent or diagnose any sort of medical condition or illness. Even if you see other brands doing it, we recommend abstaining from doing so yourself. This is not only unethical, but it will leave customers disappointed and distrustful of your brand.
However, you can use general feedback, reviews, and first-hand testimonials in your advertising. In addition, you can make reference to medical research that has been conducted using CBD. If you are going to do this, we recommend thoroughly researching your materials to make sure they are legitimate.
The key is to make sure your product descriptions leave your customers feeling informed. This is important because informed customers make better decisions. i.e they are more likely to buy products that suit their needs, ensuring they get the best results possible.
In contrast, if customers buy products that do not suit their needs, they’re unlikely to experience the results they wanted, and they’re unlikely to return again as a customer. Detailed and accessible information helps customers know what to expect when they buy your products.
Why You Should Only Use High-Quality Product Images
When your products arrive, you will need to take high-quality photos for your website and social media. You should make sure these photos are clear and aesthetically pleasing, and you should include them alongside the product description on each page. For this, we recommend hiring a photographer.
Most phones have wonderful cameras these days, and taking product photos on your phone is fine, if your customers are only browsing your site on their own phones. However, the quality will not be good enough if it is blown up on a larger screen if your customers are browsing on a tablet or laptop. Blowing up a photo will cause it to become blurry, which looks unprofessional.
We recommend hiring a photographer to shoot a range of lifestyle inspired photos, featuring your products, some aesthetically pleasing flat lays, and some plain product photos. This way, you will have plenty of content to use elsewhere on your site and social media. In addition, there will be consistency in all photos, ensuring a uniform style across your platforms.
Shipping, Payment, and Returns Options
When you are operating an online cannabis hemp business, you will need to include a page on your site that outlines your shipping, payment, and returns policies.
Firstly, you will need to iron out what shipping options you will be offering your customers. Are you willing to offer free shipping on orders that exceed a certain threshold? We recommend doing so. This encourages customers to buy more, particularly if they are close to meeting the criteria.
Many people would prefer to spend more money on products, in order to secure free shipping, than to pay the same amount for delivery. It is also a complimentary feature that expresses gratitude for bigger spenders. If your customers are willing to spend a substantial amount of money on your products, offering free shipping is a much-appreciated gesture.
You should also consider varying shipping costs. For instance, will the cost of shipping be determined by destination or weight? Whilst charging more for long-distance or heavier orders, this may put some customers off.
A huge portion of order abandonment is down to shipping costs. To counteract this, we suggest including estimated shipping costs on your site, before the customer gets to the checkout. This way, customers won’t get a surprise on the last leg of their customer journey.
We also suggest providing customers with accurate delivery timeframes. Many people are used to fast deliveries from online retail giants who have their own delivery teams, but this is not the case for small or new businesses. Don’t be tempted to promise timeframes that you cannot guarantee. This will only reflect badly on your brand when customers do not get their orders as soon as they’re expecting.
We recommend being honest from the get-go, offering only next-day delivery options for customers in your city/surrounding area. In fact, we recommend slightly over-estimating delivery timeframes. That way, customers will be pleased when their order arrives before the due date, and it gives you more time to get orders out.
When putting together the site for your online cannabis hemp business, you should also include a brief explanation of your returns policy. Outline their statutory consumer rights in relation to returning items. You should clearly explain when refunds, repairs, or replacements will be issued.
Finding the Best CBD Payment Processor
Although times are changing in terms of the stigma surrounding cannabis and cannabis-related products, there are still some financial institutions that need to catch up. This means that many traditional banks see CBD businesses as “high risk”. Therefore, it can be tricky finding a bank to work with, or a payment processing provider. However, times are changing.
We recommend choosing a payment processing provider that has experience within the CBD industry. Providers like Lumipay specialise in ‘high risk” industries and have years of experience working with cannabis hemp businesses.
We also recommend opting for a provider that offers multiple payment options for your customers. This will give them the option to pay for your products in a way that suits them, i.e. using Apple Pay or Google Pay.
We also recommend applying to smaller banks and online business banks, as they are more likely to accept applications from “high risk” companies. You can learn more about finding the perfect CBD payment processor provider here.
Keeping Your Website up to Date Is Vital
You will need to regularly update your website too. Of course, you will need to add new product pages and update the business information as needed. But, you will also need to include engaging, high-quality content that adds value to your customer’s shopping experience.
You can share information with them that will help them choose the right products for their needs, and how to use your products effectively. This will not only encourage returning customers, but will also help you gain organic traffic from search engine results pages (SERPs). Just remember not to make any medical claims when you’re writing about your products!
Of course, running and maintaining an e-commerce website can be time-consuming and difficult. However, it is vital when you set up a CBD business online.
7. It’s Time to Start Selling
When you have your site up and running, it’s time to start selling. To do this, you’ll need to help your customers find your site. Luckily, there are a couple of different ways to do this.
As we briefly mentioned, making sure your store is user-friendly and packed with engaging, relevant content will help you show up on Google result pages. To give your online cannabis hemp store a boost, you can also invest in paid advertisements on search engines.
Alternatively, you can also invest in social media marketing and influencer marketing. The vast majority of people have social media accounts. From your earlier research, you will know where your target audience likes to spend time on the internet, therefore you can promote your products there. Building a social media following can take some time. So, opting for paid social media promotion or pairing with influencers to promote your products might be a good way of getting your page off the ground.
The tone and aesthetic of your social media channels should match the branding used on your products and on your cannabis hemp business site. This ensures consistency. You can use this platform to share useful information about your products, and you can engage directly with your customers. This is beneficial, as you can help them choose a product that will suit their needs, directing them to specific products on your site.
You can also answer any questions they may have. Showing behind-the-scenes snippets of how your business works will also help ensure transparency with your customers. It’ll help you to build rapport with them too.
We go into how to advertise your CBD business in far more detail in our blog post, “CBD Branding and Marketing: Why Is It So Important?”.
Tracking Your Progress
Of course, you will need to keep track of sales, expenses, and profits to see your growth as a company, but you will also need to keep an eye on where website traffic is coming from.
Knowing how customers are finding you is vital when starting an online CBD business. That way, you can adjust and pivot your marketing strategies where applicable. For instance, if you’re not getting much traffic from social media, you could invest in targeted ad campaigns to make sure the right people are seeing your products. Keeping track of key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you invest time and money in avenues that will return your investment.
8. Keeping Your Cannabis Hemp Business up to Date
If you are considering starting up a CBD company, you will need to stay up to date to make sure everything runs smoothly and successfully. As a relatively young industry, especially in the UK, the hemp industry is constantly growing and changing. Every day we are learning more about the cannabinoid, and we’re finding new ways to use it and integrate it into our daily routines.
Likewise, advertisement guidelines for online stores and social media are always changing. It’s important to stay on top of these things, especially if you’re using social media platforms for lead generation. The last thing you want is to be penalised or have your account removed!
In addition, you will need to stay up to date with legal requirements and legislation in the UK and the EU, if you’re hoping to sell abroad. Making sure you have up to date information on your site, as well as the required certifications and COAs, is vital for a successful online CBD business. Keeping up with market trends and research will help you design or source innovative CBD products. This is one way of making sure you’re always one step ahead of your competitors.
9. Knowing When to Outsource
Starting up a CBD company, especially an online business, can be difficult. There are so many different components, and no one is a master of all trades. Therefore, it’s important to know where your weaknesses lie, and when you should outsource. For instance, the functionality and visual appeal of your online store is a priority. However, if you’re not an experienced web designer, you should consider reaching out to a professional.
Likewise, high-quality images and website copy are important to make sure your online store looks professional, and it performs well in terms of SEO. If your copywriting or photography skills are lacking, you should consider working with a digital marketing agency with experience in the CBD field to help you get your site off the ground.
In addition, formulating and manufacturing CBD products is difficult – it requires purpose-built processing facilities and knowledgeable lab technicians. If you can’t do this yourself, you can always opt for white-labelling services, and leave it to the experts.
Working with industry experts means you can learn from them and benefit from their experience within the CBD industry. Knowing when to outsource could seriously bolster your new cannabis hemp business, helping you to hit the ground running.
Are You Ready to Start a Cannabis Hemp Business?
With the CBD business booming, there is no time like the present to get involved. In addition, there couldn’t be an easier time to start your own cannabis hemp business! With the help of experienced industry experts, wholesale and white-labelling services, you can have a successful business up and running in no time.
If you’re ready to take the next step in setting up your business, get in touch with our sales team today. Each of our representatives has in-depth industry knowledge, and they can work with you to get your business off the ground.
Not only can we help you decide on the right product line for your business, but we can also help you with branding, acquiring necessary certifications, and even building marketing strategies. We look forward to working with you!