As the hemp and CBD industry continues to grow, ecommerce platforms like Shopify are seeing surges of CBD startup growth. Beyond unique product lines and creative marketing, new businesses need to understand how to acquire a CBD merchant account if they want their presence known in the Shopify CBD market.
Can I Sell CBD On Shopify?
Firstly, there are a few basic steps to figure out if you can sell CBD on Shopify. In order to hedge legal risk, they recommend you consult with a lawyer so you can understand all of the different regulations in the industry.
Most startups however don’t have the time or financial resources to iron out the specifics on a high level. Moreover, the most important information about the sale and restriction of CBD and hemp-related products is online. We recommend you search for both federal and state regulations for your exact products and explore the standards for shipping, sales, and distribution in your area.
Get A Shopify CBD Merchant Account
Shopify CBD Policy
Now that you’ve done your research, you’ll need to look into the Shopify CBD policy. If you don’t follow the policy closely Shopify can drop your merchant account. Then you’ll be left with an online business and no way to accepts payments. For the most part, Shopify’s regulations are consistent with the state-level restrictions associated with hemp-derived cannabidiol or CBD sales.
The laws change constantly and new states are allowing certain levels of THC content while others have strict rules that restrict the sale of any hemp-related product. If your products are consumable such as gummies or edibles, then the FDA will be the main authority to refer to when it comes to understanding the regulatory environment.
Shopify CBD Payment Processor
In order to process credit cards online, you’ll need to find a solution that allows you to operate as a Shopify CBD business. Shopify Payments is a payment processor, but it does not currently allow CBD businesses to use its payment gateway. However, there are many alternatives to this service.
You’ll want to find a third party gateway like PayKings who can provide the high risk account you’ll be needing. CBD is categorized as high risk because of the above mentioned legal stipulations, additionally, banks who support your account don’t want to have the risk of bad brand association when it comes to products in this vertical.
How to apply for a CBD merchant Account
To get a Shopify CBD account, you’ll have to go through three different processes.
- Application – Apply to receive a payment processing account. This entails filling out a general form, then adding details to a more thorough merchant application. Here their processing company will collect important information. Share the details regarding your company such as how long you’ve been operating and your chargeback rates. You’ll also want to share which state you’re operating in, and how much sales volume you’re processing per month.
- Underwriting – Once you have finished sharing all of the necessary documents and company details, the bank will review your application. At this stage, they may also contact you and request adjustments to your site, or possibly verification of documents such as COAs that show THC below 0.3%.
- Approval – Once the bank approves your Shopify CBD account, you’ll be able to start accepting payments. With your payment gateway integration and a portal through the bank, you can see all of your transactions and revenue flow. You’ll also be able to monitor important details like your number of chargebacks and refunds.
In Canada, the restrictions for CBD are a bit different, and the process may not apply. However, there are more opportunities for getting a cannabis merchant account in Canada according to the legal regulations.
Types of CBD You Can Sell:
- CBD Gummies and Edibles
- CBD for Dogs and Pets
- Ointments and Topicals
- Sprays and Atomizers
- Capsules and Pills
- CBD for Vaping
- Creams and Lotions
- CBD Flowers
Who Is the Best Shopify CBD Payment Processing Company?
Third-party credit card processing companies all have different standards and guidelines for opening a CBD merchant account. Find one that has experience with CBD, and can answer your questions. The application process calls for detailed information. Be sure you find a company with real people who you can talk to.
Shopify CBD Sellers Guide & Best Stores 
If you want to be the best Shopify CBD store around you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
2020 has seen some great Shopify CBD oil stores get established. It makes sense to keep all the good stuff from those, discard the bad, add a little magic dust of your own, and then get ready for launch.
Relaxed hemp regulations around the world mean that the CBD oil market is expected to be worth 31 billion dollars by 2026.
In this sellers’ guide, you’ll discover the main things you need to focus on to get it right with your store – and also see how the best stores are currently doing it.
We’ll assume you know most of the basics about setting up a Shopify store. However, some notable areas are especially important when selling hemp-derived CBD.
That’s what we focus on below so that you can avoid the mistakes that other CBD stores are making and learn from those that are leading the way…
Understand the Shopify CBD policy
First things first. You need to be clear on what Shopify allows and what it doesn’t.
Here is a good overview direct from the horse’s mouth (the Help section of the Shopify website):
In a nutshell, you can only sell CBD products that are lawfully derived from hemp on Shopify if it is legal for you to do so in your state and you abide by all the regulations.
No marijuana-based products can be sold on Shopify.
Understand your unique audience
Before you set up your store, it’s important to know your audience – like with any product.
To do that properly, recognize that there are some perceived downsides and risks associated with CBD, as well as quite a few misconceptions. It’s not all sweetness and light.
Many potential customers are unsure and are just dipping their feet in with these products – they need reassuring before they will buy.
If you are across the main negative perceptions before you start selling CBD products, it will help with your messaging and your marketing. Look to educate a generally poorly informed audience on the facts about CBD and what it can and cannot do.
Your goal should be to establish a reputation as a CBD oil expert – not a “snake oil” salesman!
Following are a few essential pieces of information that you may want to include in your store:
- Studies demonstrating that CBD oil can help people cope better with physical pain, epilepsy, stress, anxiety, depression, acne, blood pressure, etc.
- CBD oil does not make you “high” and you can receive its many health benefits with only a tiny THC content – around 0.3% (THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis).
- It is not the same as “medical marijuana”, which usually contains around 10% THC and therefore is psychoactive and makes you “high”.
- CBD can be vaped, smoked, or included as an ingredient in tinctures, skincare, cosmetics, and other products – as reflected in the wide variety of products available.
- Regulations concerning CBD vary around the world – be clear on what these are.
Clearly communicating the facts to your target audience will help you position your store as an information resource rather than claiming to be a “cure-all”.
Credibility is essential in this market. Include articles, blog posts, FAQs, brochures, guides, and downloads that help people understand more about CBD oil.
Be proactive with customer support to build trust
Because your audience may be wary or concerned about being mis-sold, it is important to differentiate your CBD store by the quality of the customer service you provide.
Shoppers may feel a little doubtful or insecure at first. They have questions and don’t know if they will get straight answers.
The quality of your customer support will help shoppers decide whether they’re in the right place to get the information they need. This builds trust and credibility and starts to position your store as an authority on hemp and CBD.
This may take some time and resources at first but think of it this way: CBD oil is so wonderful that people are going to want to come back for more. If you’ve already built trust with customers, who will they buy from the second time, the third time, the fourth time?
CBD oil is not a one-time-only buy for most people. The lifetime value of your customers could be huge so it is worth investing time and effort into providing high-level customer support.
Consider using live chat as well as email support and include a phone number. This should help reduce the number of objections and boost conversions.
You might need to answer questions such as:
- Can CBD oil help with
- How do I use CBD oil?
- Can I vape the oil?
- How long does one bottle of oil last?
- How much should I use per dose?
- What are the side effects of using CBD oil?
- Do you provide discreet packaging as I don’t want my family to know I’m using it?
Remember, CBD oil is a medical product and selling it comes with high responsibility. Knowing your stuff and providing factual and honest answers will help you build the trust that the best Shopify CBD oil brands have.
Decide what sets you apart
As you will see from the excellent Shopify CBD oil stores detailed below, there are many strong brands in the market already.
How are you going to establish yours?
You need to offer something a little different. Whether that’s through the customer service you provide (as already covered), targeting a particular demographic or geographical area, offering products that nobody else has, or some other differentiating factor, your success will depend upon it.
So, what sets you apart from the rest?
Consider the following in relation to your target audience:
- What’s unique about you and your products? The quality or derivation of your oil or what you blend it with, for instance? Or maybe you offer CBD-based products that no other stores can offer?
- What look and feel do you want to portray through your store and your marketing – bold and vivid colours or something a little more subdued and softer?
- What health matters are uppermost in the minds of your customers – can you target your branding towards helping with these?
- How can you keep visitors in your store rather than going elsewhere to find the information they need?
Your Shopify CBD store will be at the centre of your branding, of course.
Like with all successful stores, a clean, clutter-free appearance, with simple navigation, high-quality product information, an easy-to-follow checkout process, and an all-round unbeatable user experience is essential.
Make sure you have a “Plan B” for payments
One challenge that you will probably encounter with a Shopify CBD store that other merchants on the platform don’t usually face is being refused payment channels.
Here’s the official take from Shopify Payments currently:
Payment gateways can be strict with rules and regulations with regards to CBD. There have been plenty of reports of merchants being blocked from using PayPal or Stripe, for instance. Only a handful of US domestic banks offer credit card processing to hemp-based CBD sellers.
Some merchant accounts even claim to support payments for CBD products but are limited to a certain type of CBD product. They do not include the whole range.
Let’s remember that CBD products are still bundled together with marijuana in many people’s minds and are illegal under federal law.
The situation appears to be quite fluid and what might be true today may not apply tomorrow. It’s best to check what the present situation is, be aware of potential problems, and have a Plan B up your sleeve.
Fortunately, more options are opening up as the industry matures. Some payment gateways are promoting themselves specifically as accepting CBD merchant accounts.
The best solution is to offer as many payment options as possible to customers. This will provide backup plans if payments do get blocked on one channel.
You can find out more about Shopify payment options here.
Pay attention to accounting
With CBD sales, it’s a good idea to be able to keep a clear “paper trail” of merchant activity.
You may be more closely scrutinized than other types of businesses so this makes it doubly important to have good accounting and inventory management software.
We won’t go too deeply into this one as it’ best to search around for the software you need. We’re not here to promote any particular accounting package!
7 of the best CBD stores currently on Shopify
No potential CBD store owner should set up without a good understanding of what’s out there already – and how the best stores work.
The following are seven of the best Shopify CBD stores, in no particular order. These demonstrate clearly what’s possible with yours…
Cannuka is a good example of an innovative Shopify CBD seller that is very focused on one type of CBD-based product. The store sells skincare products that combine hemp-derived CBD and Manuka honey.
The Cannuka website has a modern, clean feel and is easy to navigate and make purchases from. A good sign of its success is that it is featured on the Shopify landing page for CBD businesses.
The Sabaidee brand has clear messaging and stands for something else besides selling lots of pure-extract CBD oil (which is its main product).
The company pushes sustainability and has a mission to plant one million trees as well as promote health and wellness through its products.
This is a UK-focused store selling a range of CBD oils, balm, capsules, gummies, vape oil, and even coffee made “with love” from Californian-grown hemp.
Its messaging is focused on relieving pain for its customers and the store is a good example of how to tap into markets around the world (beyond the U.S.) that permit the sales of hemp-derived CBD products.
The LEEF Organics brand is big on the purity, cleanliness, non-GMO, organic nature of its products. Its Shopify CBD store sells a range of products including tinctures, balms, and skincare products.
The website is clean, sharp, mobile-friendly, and includes high-quality imagery, and the brand is active on social media.
CBD Farmers Collective
The CBD Farmers Collective isn’t a single seller but rather a marketplace where hemp growers and CBD sellers in the U.S. can join forces to sell their products.
It recognizes the fact that there are a lot of smaller producers and people interested in selling CBD products who do not necessarily want to set up their own stores. Its customers benefit from the choice and variety of products available.
Made By Hemp
Made By Hemp is a well-established brand that makes and sells a variety of hemp-based products from patches and skin rubs to CBD oil for cats and dogs!
The site provides extensive educational resources about hemp and CBD oil in general – and about their own production methods.
Josie Maran is one of a growing band of stores that do not exclusively sell hemp-derived products – but they include them as part of a wider range of products.
Many of these, like Josie Maran, are in the beauty field. This store sells a variety of makeup, skincare, hair care products, and bath accessories, including their “Skindope” line that contains CBD.
Shopify and CBD: Get established before the rush begins…
Shopify and CBD are starting to work well together.
Hemp-derived CBD oil has come in from the fringes, opening up considerable opportunities for sellers to tap into this rapidly growing market.
Laws are rapidly evolving around the world. More people are getting to grips with the medicinal properties of cannabidiol, creating greater demand and leading to more stores opening up.
The window of opportunity is still open but soon everyone will want a slice of the action.
By following the above tips, you can overcome the many challenges that exist for Shopify sellers due to the nature of the product – and establish and grow your store before the market reaches saturation point
Hi, I’m Giles Thomas.
Founder of AcquireConvert, the place where ecommerce entrepreneurs & marketers go to learn growth. I’m also the founder of Shopify agency Whole Design Studios.
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