Updated: Apr 29
It is 2020 anD online shopping options are available for just about every single store, or item you can think of. Honestly, if a retail store isn't offering online shopping they are missing out on a significant amount of business.
When we decided to start CBD Kave, last winter, the goals, and vision for our company included online shopping. The location we chose has a perfect setup to give us the space needed for easily filling orders each day. With CBD becoming federally legal in 2018 we figured our products would be no different than if we sold forks or paper.
How very wrong we were!
Here are the main challenges we have faced when trying to get an online store going.
Challenge - Finding a bank
CBD may be federally legal but there are no federal banking regulations in place for hemp products and because of this all of our local banks will not support businesses that are in the hemp industry. We went into, called, emailed, and spoke with every option we have here. Then we started to seek support out of state, at first, we got positive responses then we started to get turned away one after another because our LLC is based in Idaho. Even with a bank allowing us to process our instore payments and manage our business funds, selling online was not just a given with that.
Challenge - Point of Sale System & Merchant Services
In order to take any form of card payments, we would need a point of sales system & merchant services. Being a retail store we were hopeful we could find one that would also tie into our inventory and help track our sales. I hold an MBA in accounting with many years of experience and very well could manually process our inventory & keep our accounting. Essentially I am, but I had no desire to do all of that manually. Sure, we also could only accept cash however that would put an indefinite end to the online store as well as give us a weakness when competing with other retailers of CBD products. Like the issues, we ran into with finding a bank we had the same issues with POS companies. Some were advertising they now support CBD companies however, Idaho was not on the list of supported states. When we finally found the companies to work with us they wouldn't support online sales in Idaho because that meant potentially shipping out of state and causing issues with the state. So we could only process cards in the store. By now you are probably asking a lot of questions we started asking. Why don't we just set up the online store and not tell any of them what we are selling? Well, they all review your online store before approving the set up of an account, and periodically throughout your contract with them.
Challenge - We need a supportive web host.
We did not think we would have these same issues when looking for web hosts and for the most part we didn't. We actually had our website set up first, without the online store. We see hemp businesses all the time that have websites, blogs, and stores. We figured the WebHost doesn't handle any of the money exchanges so they had no reason to worry about what the business was selling. Besides, in 2018 CBD was removed from the federal drug list so nothing illegal here. Many of those that are supporting the ever-growing hemp industry didn't want to deal with... you guessed it, the state of Idaho. so while our website is fine they will not support us opening a store to sell CBD out of Idaho and when we get a merchant and POS that will support our online store, we will have to find a new web host too.
Challenge - We are located in Idaho.
And our biggest challenge to date we are based in Idaho! Regardless of what the federal laws state for hemp and CBD, Idaho is not on the same page. You may have read a few news articles about truck drivers passing through Idaho with federally legal products getting stopped, then the products and driver being taken into custody. Also, the push to get medical marijuana on the ballot has caused some talk recently, with petitions to put legalizing on the ballet not being honored. Due to the actions, Idaho has taken in regard to this industry many companies do not want to risk doing business in our state. I cannot tell you how many phone calls I have had with companies, who said they support CBD only to say they can't work with us because we are in Idaho.
Here we are, 8 months into our first year and we still do not have a "modernized" online store. (Insert sad face, crying face, angry face!) we do have our product photos online and we have taken orders via messages, emails, and phone. We advertise that we ship but none of that is the same as someone stumbling across our site from anywhere in the world and placing an order without having to reach out to us first. It's frustrating and sad for us too!
UPDATE-While it is still not perfect, nor the traditional click, shop, pay experience. We do have a form of an online store now. The workaround that we are currently using is in the payment step. Once an order is placed we personally must then send out an invoice via email for receiving payment. Once payment is received we either personally deliver the products locally or ship them flat rate.
Please know, while we want your business, we want to support you on your life path more. To easing your pain and balancing your emotions, energy, and sleep. Giving the CBD Kave support we give every customer that comes through our doors.
Our connection to our customers is more than just a sales transaction!