How to Sell CBD Online
Our independent research projects and impartial reviews are funded in part by affiliate commissions, at no extra cost to our readers. Learn more
7 Simple Steps to Set Up For CBD Success
It seems that CBD (cannabidiol) is suddenly everywhere you look. Health stores, high streets, pharmacies, and even coffee shops are all excitedly stocking their shelves with CBD products. It’s a craze that’s quickly gathered momentum, and is set to keep growing over the coming years.
It’s been forecast that the CBD market in the US alone will exceed a whopping $20 billion by 2024 – so if you’re looking for an opportunity in a growing market, you’re in the right place to get in on this CBD revolution.
But selling CBD comes with its own unique set of challenges – especially if you’re selling online.
To help you set up your budding CBD business for success, we’ve put together this extensive guide to walk you through the tips and trip-ups that every CBD seller should know. We’ll ask important questions like “What is CBD?” and “Is it legal?” before walking you through the seven steps to setting up your own CBD online store:
How to Sell CBD Online – 7 Simple Steps
- Do the research
- Pick your products
- Choose a reliable CBD provider
- Start creating a brand
- Build your online store
- Set up payments
- Market your CBD products
We’ll also give you an insider tip on the most common CBD mistakes to avoid, and offer advice from experts who’ve been through it all themselves.
If you’re ready to become part of a global, lucrative, and sometimes controversial movement, then read on and get ready to start your own CBD online business!
Now seems like a good time to point out that this article is primarily aimed at US sellers.
CBD laws in other regions may differ from the information given in this guide, so double check your local legislation before launching your business.
We’re not lawyers here at Website Builder Expert – we’re more into techy stuff – so please always seek legal advice to check your CBD business is all above board. Happy CBD selling!
What Is CBD?
Let’s start with the basics, because there’s a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around what CBD actually is. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the main ingredients of cannabis – but don’t let that put you off.
CBD isn’t psychoactive – that means it’s not responsible for any of the “high” symptoms associated with cannabis (like paranoia or euphoria). The ingredient of cannabis that causes those symptoms is called THC.
You can get CBD from both hemp and marijuana plants. This guide will focus on hemp-derived CBD, because it contains much less THC – around 0.3%, which is the legal limit allowed when selling CBD products (we’ll cover the legal side of selling CBD next).
Why Do People Use CBD?
So, why is CBD so popular? Well, people believe it has medical benefits without the negative side effects that come with THC. These benefits include helping to:
- Relieve pain
- Reduce inflammation
- Relieve anxiety and depression
- Ease migraines and nausea
- Decrease seizures
There are plenty of different CBD products available. The main types include:
- CBD tinctures – place a couple of drops under the tongue.
- Edible CBD products – such as CBD infused chocolate, or adding it to coffee!
- CBD creams – applied directly to the skin to help with inflammation or arthritis.
- CBD capsules – tablets are a fast and familiar way of taking CBD.
- CBD isolates – “purified” CBD that has been turned into a powder.
- CBD vaporizers – vaping delivers quick results, and is a popular method of taking CBD.
- CBD patches – similar to nicotine patches, this gradually releases CBD into the body.
- CBD for pets – our four-legged friends can benefit from CBD, too!
That’s quite a list, and it’s barely scratched the surface of all the ways CBD can be taken. Nasal sprays, lollipops, and CBD oil-infused candles are just three examples of how you can get creative within these product categories.
Okay, so CBD won’t get you high, and there’s a wide range of product types to choose from. But is anyone actually reaching into their pockets to buy CBD products? What if this is just a passing craze?
Unfortunately, we can’t see into the future, but all signs and statistics are pointing towards CBD becoming a booming industry. The Farm Bill, passed in December 2018, has been largely responsible for the surge in CBD sales.
The bill allows farmers to legally grow hemp, opening the door for the CBD market to boom…
…and boom it did!
For starters, the US CBD market saw a growth of 562% from 2018 to 2019, and it doesn’t seem to be tiring after such an explosive sprint off the starting blocks.
As many as 14% of Americans say they use CBD. Treating pain was the biggest reason given, with anxiety the second most common cause for turning to CBD products.
Is CBD Legal?
A lot of the confusion around CBD is to do with the legalities of selling, buying, and using it. So we’ve picked out the key things you should know about the legal side of selling CBD online.
The first thing to make clear is that, yes, CBD is federally legal in the USA, as long as it meets certain requirements.
It is federally legal to sell hemp-derived CBD in the US, as long as it only contains up to 0.3% THC. If your CBD product contains more than 0.3% THC, it is legally defined as marijuana – not something you want to be selling!
Despite this, you do need to be careful – or at least mindful – about how you approach selling CBD online.
For one, different states have different rules and restrictions around CBD, and don’t always match up with the federal law. Because of this, you must always check your local legislation to make sure you’re not breaking any rules.
For example, some states require CBD to have 0% THC rather than 0.3%, and in a few states any CBD is still illegal.
Aside from always checking your state’s laws, there are two main things to know:
1. You can’t make medical claims about CBD
We know, this seems designed specifically to trip up CBD sellers. While the main reason most people use CBD is for its medical benefits, you can’t make grand medical claims when selling CBD products.
This is because CBD hasn’t been officially researched or approved by the FDA – until more is known about the effects of CBD, you simply can’t make claims about its medical benefits.
For example, you shouldn’t advertise on your website that your products can help prevent or cure serious illnesses like cancer or Alzheimer’s. Be careful about what you’re promising your customers, and always ask yourself what evidence you have to back up these claims.
Like many other natural drugs, CBD can interfere with other medications, which is why it’s especially important to be careful with your marketing. In short, you can sell CBD, but you can’t start promising to treat people with it.
2. US sellers should avoid CBD edibles
While CBD edibles are legal in other countries like the UK, and are a familiar sight on US shelves, they’re actually illegal under US law. The FDA has banned adding CBD to food and drink under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Until that changes – if it ever does – it’s best to avoid selling CBD edibles if you’re based in the US. Some companies market their CBD products as “dietary supplements” – do not do this. (You’ll get in trouble).
Instead, pick a CBD product that doesn’t involve food, drink, or diet, and sell safe in the knowledge that your business is totally above board.
CBD Dos and Don’ts
We realize that we’ve already given you a lot of information, and haven’t even started on the steps to setting up your business yet!
The upside to selling CBD is that it’s a fast-growing market, but you do have to be switched on to make the most of it. We want your CBD business to be a success, and to do that, you need to ensure you’re selling safely for both you and your customers.
Here’s a helpful list to remind you of the key CBD dos and don’ts – now is the perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, before settling in for our seven steps to CBD success!
✔️Check local state laws before selling
✔️Source tested and high quality CBD for your products
✔️Label your products clearly and provide certification
✔️Understand how CBD works and carry out in-depth research
✔️Build a trustworthy brand for your CBD business
❌Sell CBD that contains more than 0.3% THC
❌Make medical health claims about your products
❌Use an unreliable or unofficial CBD supplier
❌Be careless when choosing a payment processor or website builder
❌Take risks that could affect your business or your customers
#1. Do the Research
You’ll have realized by now that selling CBD comes with a lot of important, and often confusing, information that you need to stay on top of.
Before you set up your business, make sure you know CBD inside and out. Understanding your product and becoming a bit of an expert in what you’re selling is crucial for long-term success.
It’ll help you navigate the rules and regulations a lot easier if you know your isolate CBD from your full spectrum CBD, it’ll help you make more confident sales decisions, and it’ll even help you provide a better service for your customers.
While you can’t make medical claims about CBD, customers will value your advice on which product they should choose, how to best use the product, and information on your product such as the extraction process used.
Knowing your products inside and out can help you to build a loyal customer base and add value to your brand in an increasingly saturated market.
- Understood exactly what CBD is
- Carried out research to get to grips with the industry
#2. Pick Your Products
This is the fun part where you get to pick which CBD products you want to sell through your online store!
Here’s a quick recap of the main CBD product categories:
The 3 Types of CBD
When deciding on your products, you’ll also have to choose which type of CBD to sell. There are three main types of CBD, with many arguments for using each. You’ll need to pick the type that best suits your needs – click on the plus icons below to find out more about each one.
CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD, meaning that there are no other compounds or ingredients present in the end product. This is usually extracted from hemp plants. This is good for customers wanting to mix their own CBD products at home.
Full Spectrum CBD
Full Spectrum CBD contains everything that’s originally and naturally found in the plant, such as other cannabinoids and essential oils. These compounds work together to enhance the effects of the CBD product – often called the “entourage effect”.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad Spectrum CBD is a sort of compromise between Isolate and Full Spectrum CBD, where all natural compounds are left in the product – except for THC, which is completely removed. This still delivers the desired “entourage effect”, without the presence of THC.
As always, when deciding on which products to sell, you should look for opportunities within the market.
For example, CBD for pets is on the rise, with over half of CBD users expressing interest in trying CBD infused pet products. If that’s not enough, CBD pet products earned $9.4 million in four states between 2018 and 2019 – so finding products within this category could work well.
Remember that US sellers should avoid CBD edibles because of the current law.
Finding a niche is always important when starting a business, but with more and more CBD products popping up in stores and online, a strong niche is essential if you want your CBD business to succeed long-term.
Here are some tips for picking a profitable product niche:
- Carry out market research using tools such as Google Keyword Tools and UberSuggest to understand what people are searching for online.
- Perform competitor research to understand what other brands are doing within your niche or industry. Look at their social media, content, products, and customer profiles to get an insight into how and why they’re doing well.
- Dig out some data to try and predict what’s going to be hot, rather than only focusing on what has been hot. Or, target products which perform consistently well – aim to combine longevity with profitability.
There are a few factors which could affect your research – the main one being how young the industry is. Because of this, there isn’t much hard data out there to help guide your decisions.
To combat this, try to gain a thorough understanding of the market as it is, and use this to direct your approach. Listen to customers and what they want; use your own imagination and identify gaps in the market; find problems that only you can solve.
- Decided which type of CBD you want to use
- Narrowed down the products you want to sell
- Identified a niche in the market
- Researched opportunities within the industry
#3. Choose a Reliable CBD Supplier
This is arguably one of the most important things you can do for your CBD online store – find a trustworthy, high quality CBD supplier.
This will affect everything from the quality to the legality of your products, as well as customer trust in your business.
Because of the boom in the CBD industry, sellers and suppliers have sprung up everywhere – and some are more reputable than others. Some products have been found to contain no CBD at all, while others have worryingly high (not to mention illegal) levels of THC.
Growing and extracting your own CBD is next to impossible, so here are some things to look out for when choosing a supplier…
1. Extraction Methods
The way that the CBD is extracted from the hemp plant affects the quality of the final product. Make sure that your supplier uses a clean extraction method – the best one is CO2 extraction, which produces a purer product.
Petroleum-based extraction is a common (and cheaper) method – however, it uses harsh chemicals like butane and propane, which can affect the final product (and not in a good way).
2. Growing Standards
Hemp plants are particularly partial to soaking in nutrients from the soil around them, but if there are harmful substances present, then they get absorbed too. This means that pesticides, plastics, or other toxins can have an especially negative impact on the quality of both the plant and the CBD extracted from the plant.
Check out the growing standards of any potential supplier to make sure they maintain clean growing conditions.
3. Medical Claims
If a supplier’s website is making grand medical claims about their CBD, consider that a huge red flag and stay away.
The FDA will crack down on companies making medical claims about CBD, so be careful that neither you, nor your supplier, are misleading your customers.
Your supplier must absolutely have strict testing in place to ensure the high quality of their products.
They should also send the products away for third-party testing, and readily present any certificates or reports from these tests. You should check these reports for an unbiased analysis of the potency of the product, as well as for confirmation that there are no contaminants present.
From the Experts
Kristina Spionjak, Marketing Director, London Canna Group
“What do you test your products for? Residual solvents? Microbials? Moulds? Cannabinoids and terpenes? Pesticides? Heavy Metals? Potency?
Ideally your tests should be comprehensive, and cover all the above for each batch of your products.”
If a supplier is unwilling to share these results, go elsewhere – it’s possible their products are not high quality. Some suppliers even disguise hemp seed oil as CBD, so don’t fall for it!
If you’re worried about picking a subpar supplier, then the safest way to ensure high quality is to look through the list of US Hemp Authority certified companies. This certification program aims to provide high standards, best practices, and self-regulation in order to help consumers find CBD sellers they can trust.
There are over 60 certified companies on the list, and some offer wholesale as well as selling directly to the public. Picking a supplier with an official certification is a great way of gaining consumer trust, while also giving yourself peace of mind over the quality of your products.
- Found a list of trustworthy CBD suppliers
- Thoroughly researched potential CBD suppliers
- Chosen a vetted, certified supplier for your business
#4. Start Creating Your Brand
It can be hard to stand out in the CBD market – and it can be even harder to win customer trust and loyalty. Building a brand will help you stand apart from competitors, connect with your customers, and create a strong identity to market your products with.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
You can’t sell CBD online without knowing who you’re selling to. Understanding your target audience is essential for building your brand, because it’ll influence a lot of your decisions.
Think about what products you’re selling and who they would appeal to. Perhaps there’s a customer group that nobody is catering for yet? Or maybe you have a specialism that you can use to benefit a particular audience?
A recent study found that over 80% of 18 to 34 year-olds are aware of CBD products – but that currently only 36% have tried (or are interested in trying) CBD. Drilling into statistics like these can help to guide your branding and identify who might have an appetite for your products.
Whether you’re selling CBD to Millennials, mums, or dog lovers, you need to step into their shoes and get inside their heads. Start by searching social media, creating customer profiles, and even conducting surveys to learn more about your target audience.
Knowing your target audience pays off – 78% of consumers believe that brands focused on custom content are more trustworthy, and more interested in building good relationships.
2. Choose a Business Name
Once you know your target audience and brand values, you can tailor your business name to make your brand more appealing. A great way to get started is with a free business name generator – such as Namelix or Shopify’s naming tool – which gives you multiple options.
72% of the best brand names are created with made up words or acronyms, so don’t be afraid to get creative!
3. Create a Logo
You don’t have to be a designer to create a logo – instead, start off with a logo generator like TailorBrands. Using professional tools like this can help to inspire your imagination, or even give you a perfect logo design right there and then.
It only takes visitors 10 seconds to form an impression of your logo – so no pressure!
Psst! You can save 25% on any Tailor Brands plan with our exclusive discount code!
That’s right, Website Builder Expert readers can get 25% off their chosen Tailor Brands plan with our special discount code. Simply enter the code WBE25 at checkout to save 25% on your very own professional logo!
Do You Want to Save 25% On Your Logo?
Find out more
Discover How to Make a Logo along with the best logo makers in our helpful guide
Learn more about what a professional logo generator has to offer in our Tailor Brands Review
4. Find Your Tone of Voice
Don’t forget the importance of your brand’s voice. This is the way you talk to your customers, write content for your website, describe your products, answer emails, and post on social media.
Your tone of voice should speak to your target audience – use natural language that your customers connect and feel comfortable with. Your tone of voice should also be consistent across your business – consistent branding across all channels can increase revenue by 23%!
Find out more
Our guide on Writing for the Web walks you through the dos and don’ts of engaging your online audience
5. Pick Your Color Scheme
The right color scheme can increase brand recognition by up to 80%, and using color psychology you can even tell people about your brand without saying a word.
You’ll often see the color green in CBD marketing. It makes sense – green represents nature, renewal, relaxation, and safety, making it an obvious choice for CBD sellers. Even if you don’t choose green as a primary color for your brand, you could use it in images or to highlight call to action buttons.
Other colors you might want to consider for your branding include blue, which inspires trust and is used by 33% of the world’s 100 most well known brands, and purple, which has a calming effect and is often used to market beauty products.
If you’re unsure where to start, try out a free color scheme generator like Coolors.co to get inspired.
Find out more
Learn more about color psychology, primary and secondary colors, and much more in our extensive guide on How to Choose a Good Color Scheme
Once you’ve got these building blocks for your brand, you can start to build a website for your business!
- Started building a brand for your business
- Chosen a business name
- Created a logo
- Found your tone of voice
- Picked out your color scheme
#5. Build Your Online Store
Usually, online sellers need to decide where to sell online. However, selling CBD online comes with restrictions, meaning you can’t sell through popular channels such as Amazon, eBay, or Etsy.
Because of this, building your own online store is the best option for CBD success!
There are still decisions to be made, though – starting with how to build your website. And you can’t just pick any old website builder, because a lot of them have restrictions around selling CBD. We’ve picked out the top three ecommerce builders for you to check out:
BigCommerce became the first full-featured ecommerce platform to support CBD sellers in August last year, with the launch of its CBD sales suite. A member of the National Hemp Association, BigCommerce is leading the way when it comes to supporting CBD sellers’ online success. It won’t charge transaction fees either, unlike other platforms such as Shopify.
“For new CBD sellers you should make sure the platform you are choosing has legal requirements in place required to sell CBD products. Also, that they offer different high-risk payment options that cater to the industry instead of forcing you into their own or preferred solution.
In August of 2019 BigCommerce officially launched their CBD offering to merchants – although BigCommerce had merchants in the CBD industry well ahead of 2019. To date, BigCommerce is approaching 1,000 merchants on the platform that are considered to be in the CBD industry. This includes everything from small retailers to some of the largest manufacturers and distributors in the world like Green Roads and CBDistillery.
Our CBD offering is based off our core platform and offers all the features and tools most merchants need. That being said, our CBD offering provides specialized solutions such as industry specific payment and shipping options that cater to the industry.”
Find out more
Read our BigCommerce Review to find out more about this ecommerce powerhouse
This is a popular ecommerce builder that we’ve tested thoroughly – in fact, we found it was the best online store builder on the market. Shopify greenlit CBD sales last year, meaning that CBD sellers can now make full use of its impressive and easy to use sales platform.
“Hemp-derived CBD is one of the hottest new product categories we’re seeing in the beauty and wellness industries. As regulated products like hemp-derived CBD become available in retail, brands need a strong, trustworthy suite of tools to sell and manage their business successfully. Shopify is uniquely positioned to support this based on our experience with CBD retailers in Canada and our ability to provide a customizable and secure platform.”
Find out more
Is Shopify right for you? Find out in our detailed Shopify Review
WooCommerce with WordPress.org
If you have the time and technical confidence, WordPress is a powerful platform to build your online CBD store with – especially if you use the WooCommerce plugin. It’s fully customizable and gives you total control over your store – although the flip side of this is that it’ll take a while to set up, and takes a lot more time and effort to maintain.
Once you’ve chosen your platform, you can set about building your store. Remember to integrate your carefully chosen color scheme, business name, and logo onto your site, and make sure all your design choices are consistent with your brand.
Here’s a quick run-down of the key steps to follow when building your online store:
- Pick a theme – this will outline the design and layout of your store, so pick one that you really love. You can replace the example content to really make it your own!
- Add your products – upload product photos and enter product details into your store’s dashboard, so that they appear on your website.
- Write content – welcome your visitors with some copy! Examples of content you might want to write include the homepage, an About Us page, and product descriptions.
- Connect social channels – integrate your website with your social channels, such as Facebook and Instagram. This will help grow your business’ online presence.
- Set up shipping – if you’re storing and shipping your own products, you need to sort out your shipping settings. This includes shipping regions, fees, and couriers.
Remember that transparency and trust are key factors in building a successful CBD business. Here’s a list of some important things to have on your website:
- A disclaimer stating that your products aren’t intended to cure, prevent, or diagnose diseases, and that any medical statements have not been FDA approved. A banner at the bottom of every page is a good idea.
- An FAQ section answering common and important questions, such as “What are the active ingredients in your products?” and “How much THC is in your products?”
- Contact details that are easy to find – put them loudly and proudly on your homepage. This will help customers get in touch with any questions they might have about your products.
- Certification – if you have a Certificate of Analysis from your manufacturer, make it available on your site. This will inspire trust and signal quality.
We recommend checking out the Charlotte’s Web website as inspiration for how to check all these boxes!
- Decided which ecommerce builder to use
- Started building your online store
- Checked that you’re including important information on your site
The CBD market is expected to exceed $20 billion by 2024 – get in on the action with our seven step guide on how to set up your own CBD online store today!