As a merchant you owe it to your customers and your store identity to carry the best CBD products in your store, be it online or a physical location.
What criteria should you be looking at when choosing a wholesale CBD line?
There are a few aspects which comprise this process:
- Does the product work?
- Does the product taste good (tinctures), feel good (lotion) or easy to use (Edibles/Softgels/Capsules)?
- Are the CBD form factors (or delivery methods) consistent with your store identity?
- Does the brand grow their own hemp?
- Can the brand trace the origin of the hemp in their product?
- Is the hemp grown locally? In the US, or imported?
- Does the brand perform lab tests on their products?
- Are the contents clearly listed on the product’s packaging and back panel?
- Does the brand provide guidance on serving size/usage information?
- Does the brand provide marketing support and marketing collateral?
- Are the products priced at a good value for the quality delivered?
All these attributes are important. In the absence of vetting a brand’s efficacy with your own team who tests products, the easiest way to understand what consumers think of a brand is to read feedback or reviews on the company’s website. This should be your first stop when evaluating a brand to carry in your store.
Let us break down the nine attributes of CBD products listed above:
- Effectiveness: Does the product work? The product must work. You can rely on reviews on the brand’s website. When doing so, make sure that the reviews were gathered by an independent third-party review company, such as “Trust Pilot”.
- User Experience: On a very basic level, does the product have a taste (tinctures of chewable edibles), or feel (topicals) which will encourage your customer to consume this over and over? If you are conducting the trials yourself, or with a trusted party within your team, the tester should verify that the product is not off-putting and will attract your customer to use the product over and over. It is also helpful if your staff, which interacts with your customers have tried the product as well so they can share their experiences with your clientele.
- Store Context: This gets down to which form factors match your store’s identity. If you are an independent pharmacy or health and wellness store, it is not in keeping with your stores image that you will sell CBD/hemp flower or vape products. Likewise, if you are a smoke shop, then carrying capsules would not fit the image of your store.
- Origin of the hemp/CBD: Does the brand grow their own hemp? It is very important that the brand grow their own hemp or can trace back the CBD to hemp grown locally or nearby and has control or influence over the methods employed. Do the brand use pesticides in their grow or engage in other practices which would speak to the safeness and purity of the hemp from which the CBD is derived? Keep in mind that there is much CBD out there and it can come from Europe or China where the practices and safeguards being employed by a local farm are not necessary.
- Lab Testing to verify safety and Potency: Does the brand lab test each of the products and batches or lots it sells, and provide those lab results on their website? The laboratory performing these tests needs to be ISO (International Organization for Standards) certified according to the criteria established by that independent organization. An extra bonus for the consumer is if the product in question has a QR code on its packaging which leads to the lab report on the web.
- Labeling: Does the package state what is in it, in an easy to read format on the label or outer box? If it is not apparent what the contents of the product are, or the amount of CBD contained in the package and per serving, then your client has no way of replicating the effects with any other brand, now would they know what works or not, as the case may be.
- Usage information: Does the brand provide guidance on usage information or serving size? This is an important aspect for your clients in their mission towards self-discovery as to what amount of CBD works for them. If a new client tries a CBD product you are carrying, and they do not take enough active CBD to have the desired result, then they are not likely to purchase that product or any other CBD product again. The brand should provide guidance on what the starting serving size should be and a plan to adjust that serving size based on the initial and subsequent effects from using the product.
- Marketing Collateral: While this is not a deal breaker by any means, if a brand has marketing literature to support you in your sales efforts, that is a bonus, and will support your sales efforts. Having marketing support is more important when starting to carry CBD products, or when introducing a new brand. Marketing support helps educate your staff and clientele.In-store marketing support: In the pre-COVID-19 era, in store demonstrations and product sampling was a very useful method to allow consumers to experience the product before they purchased it. I am sure that in store sampling will come back to occupy an important part of the customer journey, once new protocols are established for “safe sampling”
- Pricing/Value Proposition: Now that you have made it this far and can check off positive scores on the first 8 criteria, the final and important question is if the products price point is consistent with quality being delivered and with the universe of customers your store services.
Carrying the right CBD products in your store can be a very important part of your store’s survival in these new and challenging times. Following the criteria and guidelines listed above will help ensure your success in the CBD category.