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E-cigarettes, otherwise known as vaping, were invented by Hon Lik, a Chinese pharmacist, in 2003. Lik originally developed the device as an alternative to conventional smoking after the long-term harmful effects of smoking became apparent. In addition to the battery component, an e-cigarette comprises an atomiser and a cartridge containing either nicotine or a non-nicotine liquid solution. Of late the CBD industry has joined the vaping trend by delivering various strengths of CBD oils via vaping devices. Various smokers use vaping to help them quit, or as an alternative to smoking.
In our latest TruevoTalks podcast, we speak to James Dunworth, Co-founder of E-cigarette Direct, an online vaping store based in the UK. Founded in 2008, E-Cigarette Direct has focussed on helping smokers take their last puff of cigarettes. You can find any electronic smoking device; from mods to pods, starter kits to disposables and from cartridges to e-liquid in one of their shops, on their wholesale channel or website. James shares the backstory of how E-Cigarette Direct saw the first light to develop into a full-time business. He talks about the side effects of the pandemic and shares insights on how it changed the direction of their business.
“During the pandemic, we had to close all our stores and focus on the website. It posed quite a challenge for us. The main one was that we could not advise clients in person. Our business is built on speaking to real people and getting advice on which vape or liquid will ideally suit a client’s needs. We could not deliver that in-person contact experience on the website. So we needed to make other plans and find workarounds without compromising on the quality of advice we delivered. The trend carried on after the pandemic, and we had to close some more of our stores. It has given us a renewed focus on our digital offering.”
E-cigarette Direct now uses telephone and in-person consultations, as well as live chat on their website, to advise clients. Another challenge particular to the vaping industry is that people can no longer sample different flavours and vapes like they used to because of the hygiene laws.
James explains that they get around that by doing an intense needs analysis. He shares an example; “If a client has arthritis, for instance, they need a device that is really easy to use with big buttons and prefilled parts. The user experience on our website leads people through different steps to choose the right device. We’ve just really had to be clever about how we build and construct our online store and how people journey through it. And it obviously has to be as pain-free and easy as possible to make a purchase otherwise, we’re not in business.”
James talks further about using user data to inform business decisions. “We look at which questions customers ask on the website. Which flavours are they looking for that we don’t have? It helps us with product and content selection. If people are asking about something, they want to know more about it. We use those insights to produce and share our content.”
Promoting vaping is not the easiest topic with many countries like Argentina, Brazil and Australia vehemently opposing it. E-Cigarette Direct got around this challenge by publishing a very insightful blog called the Ashtray Blog. “We use the blog to inform the market about various issues and facts around vaping. We’ve focussed on science and have learnt a lot from it over the last fourteen years. We share all those insights on our blogs and it seems to be working. At some point, we’ve had over a quarter of a million visitors a month to our blog.”
James and his team are also very involved in advocacy to prevent the banning of vapes. Across the EU and in the UK various governments have threatened to ban smoking and vaping completely.
Listen to the TruevoTalks podcast on Spotify to find out more about flavours in vapes, the effects of smoking and how vaping has helped save a generation, the illegal trade in vaping devices, CBD and vaping and much more.
If you’re looking for a partner in payments speak to Truevo. We are known for our exceptional customer service and innovative approach to payments. Drop us a line, we can’t wait to light up the ecommerce world with you.
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