Like e-cig sales and firearm sales, one of the biggest online sales areas concerns tobacco. There are many reasons for this, from sky-high state taxation (I’m talking about you, New York), to limited tobacco options, there are as many reasons as there are cigarette brands. If you are looking into a new business venture, the online tobacco industry is a great place to start. However, there are things that could easily deter your dream of being a business owner is you are not careful.
One of the biggest issues comes from selling to underage buyers. While every website should have an age identifier, this can be easily manipulated. Many online tobacco merchants require a faxed or scanned copy of the driver’s license, as well as a valid telephone number to contact the buyer, to verify information. It is also wise not to ship to a PO Box, but rather a home address. If you were to be scammed, typically those orders go to a PO Box.
You also need to make sure that your stock is fresh. Do not buy in bulk at first, as tobacco can lose its potency. When your business grows, you can buy in bulk, but starting out, you probably do not need 4,000 cartons of Marlboro Lights. This will save you money, and keep it easy for you to manage your new business.
You also need to make sure that you are operating within the federal, state, and local laws. Every locality has its own set of laws regarding businesses, and some do not allow tobacco shops, even if it is an online shop. You must have a business license, even if you do not have a brick and mortar store. Be sure to stay inside the laws, and if you are not sure about something, call your online tobacco merchant account processor, your attorney or your local Chamber of Commerce. If they cannot answer your inquiry, they can direct you to the right place.
Online tobacco sales are rising, and this is a great time to invest in the company. However, the industry can be tricky, so be sure to follow your laws and regulations, and reach out to your online tobacco merchant account processor with any questions.