How to Sell CBD Based Products on Shopify

Background of selling CBD on Shopify

Shopify has always been the best way to start a business online, especially for new industries that have strict regulations. Leveraging Shopify’s API and their vast app ecosystem makes it easy to start a new CBD store online, but there’s a catch! While CBD is “legal” in the United States, it’s still the wild west in terms of how it can be marketed and sold online. We’ve worked with a number of CBD stores on both Wordpress and Shopify and we thought we’d share some of our learnings and lessons, including things like shipping limitation, batch lookups and subscription options for selling CBD on Shopify. We’ve also analyzed the top CBD stores on Shopify and have broken down what each of them is using to sell online.

Most major payment gateways will not process CBD payments due to the potential risk, which includes the major players in the space such as Shopify Payments, Stripe, Braintree and Paypal. There has also been a recent surge in government scrutiny around how CBD companies are marketing their potential benefits online, is it’s becoming increasingly important to adhere to the guidelines set forth by Shopify and the FDA when selling CBD.

What’s included in this article on how to sell cbd

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the things you’ll need to consider including on your store in order to stay compliant. Some of the items we’ll be covering are:

  1. Adding an age gate to verify your customers are over the age of 21.

  2. Building compliant landing pages that can be used for ads on Instagram, Google & Facebook

  3. Hooking up a supported payment gateway to accept credit cards.

  4. Replacing Shopify’s checkout page with a 3rd party app to bypass Shopify’s checkout flow.

  5. How to build a CBD subscription business on Shopify that leverages a service like ReCharge Cart Hook.

  6. Build a CBD order batch look-up process to stay in compliance with states that have those requirements.

  7. Setting up custom shipping rules for different types of products and limit what states you ship to.

  8. Creating shipping labels that automatically require signatures on delivery.

  9. Building a wholesale or wine club members only section of your wine or spirits store for limited releases.


Top CBD Sites on Shopify & the Technologies they Use

Prior to writing this article, we spent some time going through each of the most popular CBD brands on Shopify to analyze what technologies they’re using to power their stores on Shopify.


 
 
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Adding an Age Gate to Your Shopify Store & Cart Page

One of the first things you need to do before you go live with your new CBD store is to make sure that you’re compliant with Shopify terms of service regarding selling CBD online. Luckily, there are lots of great apps that make it easy to verify the age of the people that are visiting your site, without requiring any custom development.

Our favorite age check apps for selling CBD on Shopify are:

Age Check - $5/month

Age check w/ Age Verifier - $4/month

 
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Payment Gateways that support Cbd Sales on Shopify

You’re unfortunately not able to use Shopify’s default payment service, Shopify Payments, because it’s powered by Stripe which does not accept CBD sales.

Supported Payment Gateways

The good news is that there are some exceptions such as Authorize.net and Square which accept CBD transactions. Square is a relatively new entrant in the space, but there isn’t currently a supported payment gateway option for Square in Shopify. It is possible to get Square’s gateway to work with a 3rd party CRM called Limelight and Unify, but we do not recommend that solution as it requires a large amount of custom development and incremental costs for each of these services.

In our experience, working with Authorize.net is the best option for selling CBD on Shopify. They’re a supported payment gateway and have thousands of merchant banks that can be connected to Authorize.net. You’ll obviously need to find an approved merchant bank that will process CBD, but we’ve found that it has become increasingly easy to find banks that will process these payment.

Bypassing Shopify’s Checkout Process

There are also a number of services that allow you to bypass Shopify’s checkout flow all together, such Cart Hook & Limelight (using the Unify Plugin), but they still require a fair amount of custom development require you to rely on those services to process your payments. As of 8/7/19, Cart Hook did not support Square’s payment gateway, but if they do in the future, we’d recommend this option if you’re looking to replace the checkout process all together.

Our payment gateway apps are:

Smart Search & Instant Search - Free - $40/month

Instant Search+ - Free - $20/month

 
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Building a CBD subscription based business on Shopify

In the past few years, services like Vivino and Wine Searcher have become incredibly popular services that make it easy for people to find the products they’re looking for. The good news is that by using a service like Shopify to sell wine and spirits online, you can automatically feed your inventory to both of the services when there’s a match in either of the apps.

Building a product feed to both of these services is something we specialize in and have done for numerous stores. If you’re interested in getting more info on how to do this, please contact us.

 
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Create custom shipping rules to sell cbd on shopify

Don’t want to pay for ShipComplaint or build a custom integration for Shopify? Good news, you can leverage two of our favorite shipping apps to ensure your store is compliant with the various state and local regulations around shipping wine and spirits across the country.

With these shipping apps, you can offer per item rates and restrictions along with automatically hiding specific rates (or all rates) when certain items are detected in the cart. You can also automatically require a signature when the delivery arrives at its destination.