What You Should Know Before Selling a CBD Product on Shopify
The CBD industry is quickly growing, with an expected growth rate above 20% for the next five years. If you’re in the industry, you’ll likely want to expand your reach online, which is why you’re asking yourself what you need to know about selling a CBD product on Shopify.
Make no mistake: selling CBD on Shopify is a bit more complicated than most other products. The legal regulations, guidelines, and requirements are especially important to keep in mind. But it’s possible, as long as you know the nuances and the right steps to take. That’s what we’ll explore in this guide.
How to Get Started With Selling a CBD Product on Shopify
The first thing you’ll need to do when selling CBD on Shopify is to create your Shopify store. You can start with a free trial. But completing the backend setup first can help with any of the next steps you’ll need—from finding a payment gateway to promoting your products without violating any guidelines online.
Next, review and submit the Attestation for the Sale of Hemp and Hemp-Derived Products in your Shopify store account. It registers you as a merchant allowed to sell this type of product online. But it’s only available to stores that are based in the U.S.
You will also need to ensure that the product or products you sell are hemp-derived and contain less than 0.3% THC. Any products with a higher THC content fall under much more strict FDA regulations and are illegal to sell without medical exceptions in some stages.
Be sure to read the entire Shopify policy on selling CBD products. Because regulations tend to change, the web page is your best and most comprehensive resource for following all the necessary steps to make your business successful without falling into legal or ethical jeopardy.
Processing Payments When Selling a CBD Product on Shopify
Unfortunately, the platform-internal Shopify Payments processor does not allow transactions for any hemp or CBD products. Instead, the platform has partnered with two third-party payment gateways that allow you to set up your online store selling CBD products:
- Bankful, which accepts all credit cards and includes a weeklong underwriting process. As long as you follow its guidelines, the gateway will ensure regulatory compliance on your behalf.
- DigiPay, which is well-known in the industry for its quick approval process and support of all major payment mechanisms. Fraud protection and security measures are included.
Stay away from any other payment gateways to ensure you comply with Shopify’s regulations and federal and regional laws.
Regardless of which option you choose, keep in mind that any CBD-related transaction will be more closely vetted than you might expect from other industries. It may take you a while to get approved for processing payments through these gateways. So applying early can help you work carefully through the process.
Combining Your CBD Products With Other Products in a Shopify Store
Many e-commerce merchants sell multiple products. This might put you in a position where selling a CBD product on Shopify has to integrate with your non-CBD strategy. In that scenario, you have two options:
- Open a separate Shopify store specifically for your CBD products.
- Treat your entire Shopify store according to CBD sales guidelines, including signing the Attestation and choosing a CBD-approved payment gateway.
If you choose the first option, you can still link between your stores as long as the store in which you sell your CBD products complies with all applicable laws and regulations. So, you can still integrate the experience for your audience even as you split your e-commerce sales across two separate Shopify stores.
How Selling a CBD Product on Shopify Affects Your Shipping Options
Shopify does not take responsibility for the legalities of shipping your products. Instead, each merchant must ensure they follow their own state’s regulations and those of the state to which they sell. This current guide to CBD guidelines by state can help you understand what that means for your Shopify store. But regulations continue to change, so it’s crucial to stay up-to-date.
Check with your preferred shipping service or carrier to understand which regulations and policies might apply to you. For example, UPS will ship hemp-based products but not marijuana-based products. It places the responsibility for ensuring destination-specific compliance with the shipper.
Email Only Customer Notifications and SMS Platforms
As you look to build your communication plans, a few things are important to keep in mind. First, advertising networks like Facebook still consider CBD illegal and do not allow ads directly promoting it to run on their platform. Second, Shopify does not support SMS notifications for customer communications related to CBD products.
As a result, Shopify only allows any seller notifications related to CBD products to go directly via email. You’ll need to disable the ability for customers to provide their phone numbers and select texting as their preferred communication method.
The same thing remains true when building communications through an external platform like Klaviyo. Because CBD products are not legal in every U.S. state, Klaviyo considers it an illegal substance that, thanks to the significant regulations and carrier requirements surrounding SMS texting, cannot be promoted on this channel.
However, the platform does allow email notifications for your CBD store. As long as you restrict your promotions and communications to email, you can use the platform to promote your CBD Shopify store.
It will require a bit of research to determine which SMS platform supports CBD promotion and will work best for your store, but there are options out there. Omnisend, Sprout, SpringBig, and Alpine IQ are just a few brands that are CBD and cannabis-friendly. It’s important to note that these platforms still maintain a certain level of compliance, and certain images or keywords might not be allowed.
Working With an External Expert When Selling a CBD Product on Shopify
A product category as unfortunately controversial as CBD requires careful consideration for any e-commerce effort. This guide can help you start, but it also pays to work with an external partner who can guide you through the necessities of selling CBD on Shopify. Contact us to learn more about the process and how we can help you set up and promote your store in an ethical and safe way.
Disclaimer: This guide derives its information directly from the Shopify and Klaviyo guidelines for selling and promoting CBD products. It should not be considered legal advice, and these policies may change over time. Always consult with your legal counsel and refer to the newest guidelines when selling a CBD product on Shopify.