UPDATED ON 9/17/19
Shopify now officially supports the selling of CBD products through their platform. If you’re interested in a free 14 Day trial, you can do so by visiting - www.shopify.com/sell/cbd. Shopify Payments is still not a supported payment provider, but Shopify does recommend that you use Authorize.net as a supported provider.
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:
Adding an age gate to verify your customers are over the age of 21.
Building compliant landing pages that can be used for ads on Instagram, Google & Facebook
Hooking up a supported payment gateway to accept credit cards.
Replacing Shopify’s checkout page with a 3rd party app to bypass Shopify’s checkout flow.
How to build a CBD subscription business on Shopify that leverages a service like ReCharge Cart Hook.
Build a CBD order batch look-up process to stay in compliance with states that have those requirements.
Setting up custom shipping rules for different types of products and limit what states you ship to.
Creating shipping labels that automatically require signatures on delivery.
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.
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
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.
BUILDING A CBD SUBSCRIPTION BASED BUSINESS ON SHOPIFY
If you’re interested in building a CBD subscription business on top of Shopify, you’ll want to use a 3rd party service called ReCharge. A little known secret about ReCharge is that they actually supports Authorize.net, so that’s the best option as of now.
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.