How To Start An Online Headshop -

How To Start An Online Headshop | The Complete Guide

As the cannabis legalization process takes place all around the world, the head shop business is booming, ranging from rolling papers for dry herbs to electric vaporizers for CBD/THC concentrates, the headshop business provides the most essential tools for us to enjoy our favorite herbs. 

If you're a smoker like me, you must have thought about opening your own head shop to carry all the fancy products yourself, what is not cool about having a large collection of glassware and making some decent money on the side? 

This article is our effort to elaborate the dos and don'ts when it comes to putting your foot down and starting your own online headshop in 2020! 

But first, let us get some basic stuff, the questions that most of our customers had asked us straight before we jump to the actual steps of starting an online head shop.

The FAQs About Opening An Online Headshop

Q: Is it legal to sell bongs?

A: No, but also yes.

 

It all depends on the country(or states if you're living in the US) that you try to do business in.

 

In the United States, drug paraphilias(or water pipes, bongs, etc) are illegal on the Federal level, transporting, selling drug paraphilias is against the law. 

 

But here's the twist, most of the products are not for cannabis only, it can be sold for "Tobacco Use", that's why you can see in your local headshop that most of their products are labeled "For Tabacco Use Only". 

 

And most of the time, the authorities are not interested in busting head shops for some technicality. 

 

So if you're starting your own online head shop, you'll have to state very clearly on your legal pages that your products are for tobacco use only and you sell only to adults older than 18. 

 

Q: Can I ship a bong to a state like Texa that cannabis isn't legalized yet?

A: Yes, you can, make sure to put a "For Tabacco Use Only" sticker on your product before shipping.

Ok, now you know the basic concepts about the legal issues about selling bongs, pipes and more, let's jump right in. 

Which Platform To Build My Online Headshop?

This is the most essential and the key to a successful online head shop business, choosing the right platform for your head shop effects the branding, your product margins and more.

Platforms/marketplaces You CAN'T Sell Head Shop Products On: 

- Amazon -

Amazon had made it very clear on their legal page about selling drug paraphilias:  Items that can be used for tobacco, as well as pot, are legal as long as there is no reason to suspect it is going to be used for illegal reasons. All water pipes and or bongs are 100% illegal


It's true, trying to sell bongs on Amazon is nearly impossible, even if you register your seller's account, wrote the descriptions, uploaded the pics and listed your products, it's just a matter of time for Amazon to detect your product is related to cannabis use(their AI algorithm is extremely smart for doing things like this).

They will take your listings down and without a doubt, they will not allow you sell on Amazon anymore, the funds on your account will be held for more than 3 months before they can release them to your bank account.


Not to mention you don't even have the chance to switch to another niche in the future. So Amazon is no good for starting your headshop even it's got enormous traffic.

- eBay -

According to eBay's legal page about selling illegal drugs and drugs paraphilias, drug paraphilias are prohibited as stated:

"The following items are not allowed to be listed on eBay:

  • Narcotics, steroids, and other controlled substances (including any substance listed in Schedules I, II, III, IV or V of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. 801 et seq.)
  • Items that claim to provide a "legal high"
  • Pipes, or any item marketed as for use with marijuana or illegal drugs
  • Tobacco pipes, and other smoking accessories not intended for drug use, are allowed
  • Vaporizers intended to be used with alcohol, marijuana, or illegal substances "

Although you can still find bongs listed on eBay using keywords like "glass water pipes", there is no way of knowing when eBay will take those listing down(just like Amazon), so don't bother wasting your time and efforts trying to sell bongs on eBay. 

- Wish -

Wish had been wildly popular in the past few years and there are tons of cheap stuff on it, but can you sell bongs on Wish? 

Surprisingly, the answer is yes, you can still list your bongs on Wish and sell them, but the problem being(for almost all the products listed on Wish) that there are a lot of cheap and poorly made glass items on Wish and they are dirt-cheap,

I've seen a 12" bong that only costs $19.99 and it's free shipping! Can you imagine the quality of the bong? So not only Wish is not suitable for building your own brand(which is essential in the long run), the insane return and refund rate, sometimes more than 20%, will eat the last bits of your margin. 

Not to mention there is no telling when Wish is going to crack down on these types of products. 

- Facebook/Instagram -

It seems like a pretty good idea to sell bongs on social media platforms, both FaceBook and Instagram feature "Instant Buy" function in their app. But bad news, selling bongs on them is a big no-no. 

According to Facebook and Instagram, you can't even promo your bongs using their advertising tools, it's against their policies and if they find out about it, it is very likely that they will ban your headshop's account, and it's incredibly hard to get the account back. 

There is no wiggle room when it comes to selling drug-related products on Facebook and Instagram, and they are 2 very important tools for your branding and outreaching to your customer base, so be very careful. 

Platforms/Market Place That You CAN Sell Headshop Products On:

- Shopify - 

Shopify is one of the most popular tools to build your online headshop. 

Almost 90% of the big boys in the online head shop business uses Shopify, like DankStop, DankGeek, Smokea, PuffingBird and more.

I know, I know! Even the cheapest subscription fee costs you $29.99 a month, but Shopify is the top 3 choice when it comes to building an eCommerce website, no matter if you're doing retail or wholesale. 

Your online head shop is just like any other eCommerce website, you'll need marketing tools, shipping calculations and more, you can always find the right app to do the right job on Shopify App Store.

SEO is one of the most important factors you should consider when you're choosing the tool for building online headshops, Shopify is considered to be SEO-Ready, search engines like Google can fetch the product info from your site quite fast and index them in a timely fashion. That's why there are so many online headshops that see Shopify as their go-to platform to build their business on.

- Wordpress(With Woocommerce Installed) - 

 If you're starting your online headshop at a low budget, we recommend using Wordpress and install Woocommerce