CBD cannabis-based sales is a potentially lucrative business, but there are a number of items to consider in terms of in-person and online credit card payment processing for CBD before setting up shop and choosing a payment processor to work with.
CBD or cannabidiol has become incredibly popular in the last few years as a means of treating and managing a number of medical ailments including pain, anxiety, insomnia, arthritis and migraines. CBD has also become an increasingly popular treatment for health issues in pets. It is estimated that approximately 14% of Americans use CBD in some form. This trend is only expected to grow as cannabis is legalized in more jurisdictions and more research is done into the health benefits of CBD. The primary products currently being created and sold are CBD oils or tinctures, CBD topicals, CBD capsules and CBD-infused beverages. As with many products, the global pandemic has pushed the majority of CBD sales online. Upwards of 40% of sales occur via the Internet; a number likewise expected to increase based on convenience and larger number of people generally shopping online.
As the industry flourishes, entrepreneurs are naturally drawn to the notion of building profitable online CBD businesses. However, selling CBD online in any form is still a relatively new and highly regulated activity, particularly in many US states where the sale and use of cannabis has not been fully legalized. Even businesses, like banks or eCommerce providers, supporting CBD sales do so at some degree of risk. And yet, CBD sales in the US are predicted to reach about $1.8 billion by 2022. For those thinking about starting an online business, there are a few things to consider and research, particularly when choosing who to work with in terms of credit card processing for CBD.
Ability to Process High Risk Transactions
In order to accept credit card payments for CBD, you must open a merchant account. Online payments, by their very nature, are considered high-risk transactions compared to in-person tap, chip or pin credit card payments. Purchasing CBD online or in-person for that matter is generally considered an even higher risk proposition even though it is legal to sell CBD to consumers meeting the proper age requirements. Most financial institutions and larger online payment and eCommerce solutions like PayPal or Shopify currently do not accept online payments for CBD based on the potential for government intervention in certain jurisdictions.
There are, however, payment processors for CBD willing to take on the risk and offer CBD merchant account services. When looking for a CBD payment processor to partner with you will want to ensure they have a solid reputation of working with other CBD sellers and will limit the potential for disruptions to your service.
Higher-risk CBD payment processing typically means higher fees are charged. Payment processing providers apply transaction fees in exchange for using their services. In addition, annual compliance fees are applied and paid directly to the credit card bank. Furthermore, interchange fees are applied by the credit card company to the receiving bank.
Fee structures can vary from vendor to vendor. Some vendors offer flat fee processing, which is good when you are starting out and would prefer cost certainty. Others charge tiered fees per transaction based on the volume of transactions, which can be beneficial as your business and customer base grows. Regardless of the fee structure, you will want to do your research and understand exactly how fee-based pricing works with each service provider. Review any contracts you enter into thoroughly and beware of credit card payment processors with hidden “high-risk” fees.
Online and In-Store Payment Processing for CBD
If you are going to be selling CBD both online and from a physical location, you will naturally want to select a service which can accommodate taking online and in-person payments.
Secure, reliable eCommerce payment processing or hosted checkout solutions are crucial to a positive, successful, and profitable online experience. It’s safe to argue that most young, tech-savvy consumers are more likely to opt for the convenience of buying their cannabis products, including CBD, online; and probably via their mobile devices. Purchasing online has become ubiquitous and anything less than a positive experience can result in a lost customer.
From an in-store perspective, some vendors who handle payment processing for cannabis offer a wide range of flexible, user-friendly countertop and mobile POS device options available to business owners. Many of these devices can accept all payment types, but can also include software to engage consumers via promotions, loyalty programs and other revenue generation mechanisms.
Further, you will ideally work with a partner whose system will seamlessly integrate with your chosen eCommerce and POS software systems. By having all of your customer, inventory and transaction data synchronized you will be able to run a much more efficient business and make important decisions at the click of a button. Modern POS software makes business data available in real-time dashboards and customizable reports via web-based or mobile access.
This becomes increasingly important if you run or have plans to manage a multi-location business. In this case, relevant data, stored in a central, accessible system can be put in the hands of appropriate staff to help effectively manage the business.
Today’s consumers expect flexibility when it comes to making payments online or in-person, and are more likely to purchase CBD from services offering a wide range of payment options. As such, seek out solutions which will accept all methods of digital payment including credit, debit, mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Android Pay, EMV (Europay, MasterCard, Visa, American Express), UnionPay, Discover card tap, insert, swipe, chip and PIN. Also, consider an unattended kiosk option when a customer may skip a line and buy products right from a vending machine installed in your store, by tapping a card at a tamperproof contactless terminal. With the ability to accept multiple payment types, you immediately increase your potential for higher volume and higher value purchases. You will, of course, need to research and determine the true value of each payment type to your business depending on the merchant and interchange fees associated with each.
Privacy and Security
All consumers, regardless of the product, want to know their payments are being processed securely and their personal information is protected. Due to cannabis being stigmatized, this is even more true of CBD buyers, who may be concerned about their purchase history getting into the wrong hands and thereby putting their security at risk.
In a highly regulated industry, business owners must likewise place significant value on the security of all of their business and financial data; particularly if it’s being stored in the cloud. Your CBD business and its data will no doubt be held to a higher standard.
Do your research to ensure that any CBD payment processing company you select guarantees the security of its devices, software and networks. A payment processing solution you pick should include industry standard PCI compliance for payments, secure online data storage, and a stellar track record for maintaining the integrity of its customer data.
When you choose to work with a reputable, secure service provider you can actually promote this as a selling feature to your customers, who can rest assured their information is held safe and away from prying eyes.
Customer Service and Support
Quick, straightforward onboarding and 365/24/7 ongoing support of a CBD online and credit card payment processing system can be a difference between potential profits and losses. Again, it is important to work with an experienced payment processor, who has a well-defined onboarding and training process, can provide advice or guidance when helping to set up your online CBD business, and also has dedicated account managers who you can talk to if any problems arise.
While disruptions in service are obviously unwanted, they can occur from time-to-time for a variety of reasons, and you want to be sure that you work with a payment processor who offers a solid service level agreement and support team in the event of an outage. Don’t be afraid to ask for references or seek out customers who can speak to the level of service provided by any CBD payment processor you are considering.
Selling CBD online or in-person is still a relatively risky, albeit potentially lucrative, business venture as more and more jurisdictions, particularly in the US, make cannabis products legal and more readily accessible. The demand for these products certainly can’t be questioned at this point, and it is only expected to grow. However, business owners must be diligent in selecting CBD payment processing partners who can fully, safely, and cost-effectively support their needs and those of their end customers. Choosing the right, experienced partner for this crucial business function can significantly affect how well and how quickly your business will grow.
Do you currently run or are you thinking about starting a CBD business? If so, be sure to do your homework when selecting an online or in-store CDB payment processing solution.
MONEXgroup does have experience with helping businesses like yours get set up and configured for success with industry leading hardware, software and customer service offerings. Contact our payment processing experts with any questions you may have and let’s see how we can help your CBD business today.