Since CBD products became popular in the UK, hundreds of new businesses have been launched and joined the industry. Now, there are so many, the market is quickly reaching the point of saturation. Despite the popularity of CBD continuing to increase, it’s hard for any new business to stand out and perform well.
I’m the co-founder of for the Ageless, a UK supplement retailer that sells CBD products via its online storefront. Since I started the website in 2016, my colleagues and I developed a method that has allowed us to thrive where so many others have failed.
To understand what it takes to do well as a CBD retailer, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learnt and what we’ve done to make for the Ageless the success it is.
How to stand out in a saturated market
Because CBD is still relatively new and the industry is poorly regulated, many customers have questions and are uncertain which products are worth buying. We stand out because we’ve addressed this by building genuine, meaningful relationships with our customers.
We achieve this by combining three fundamental practices:
1. Choosing the right products
When we started, there was very little information available that would allow customers to distinguish between high-quality CBD and poorly-made products. To ensure that we only ever stocked products that were safe, well-made and effective, we came up with our own strict selection criteria.
Throughout the last few years, we’ve continued to refine it, but we stick to it rigorously when selecting which new brands to stock. By setting these standards and sticking to them, customers learn to trust that we only sell vetted products we believe in.
The criteria are:
- Clear CBD content – All products must clearly and accurately display how much CBD they contain. This allows customers to make informed choices and decide which types and strengths are best for them.
- CO2 Supercritical extraction – This is the method in which CBD and other cannabinoids are removed from the hemp plant. CO2 supercritical extraction is the gold standard in the industry and allows for safe, precise extraction with no toxic residues left in the product. It also requires specialised equipment and is a good indication that a brand has spared no expense to make a quality product.
- Certificates of analysis – These are produced by a third-party lab to confirm the precise amount of cannabinoids present in each batch. We only stock products from companies that allow these to be accessed by their customers. They are an excellent way for customers to verify for themselves that a products contents match what’s shown on the label.
- Certified organic and free from toxins – Organic certification is awarded to products that have been fully inspected by an authorised body and has met strict organic standards. This means that we can be sure that quality and safety procedures are exceptional and there is minimal chance of contamination. Where organically certified products aren’t available, we look for trustworthy brands that follow organic farming practices or whose products contain organic ingredients.
- Full and broad spectrum > isolate – Products made with full or broad-spectrum hemp extracts contain traces of other cannabinoids alongside CBD. Some scientists believe that the presence of other cannabinoids gives a broader range of benefits and is likely to create a more potent effect. Because of this we’ve chosen not to stock products made with CBD isolate.
- Tried and tested – We personally test every product offered for sale. We only share products with our customers if our trial goes well and we find them effective.
We use this selection process to choose brands to feature on the for the Ageless website, but we also share it with our customers as part of our beginner’s guide to CBD and on our main collection pages. This gives customers the information and tools they need to make their own choices.
2. Sharing expertise
When we founded for the Ageless, our first customers told us that they didn’t understand CBD enough to be confident in their choice of product. We could have asked them to trust us and directed them to a recommended product. But instead, we chose to teach them how to make their own informed choices.
To do that we created a range of easy-to-understand blog posts on the fundamentals of CBD. We felt that it was important to be informative without bias and to share our expertise even if it didn’t result in a sale.
Because we know that we’ve chosen our products carefully we also know that they will stand up to the scrutiny of an informed customer, it’s this that builds trust between customer and retailer, not marketing speak and clever taglines. Many of our customers comment on how useful they find the information we provide. As a result, they’re much more likely to return to us time and time again.
3. Interacting with customers
Customer service is an area of our business that we’re particularly proud of. Not only do we get lots of regular customers, but we also receive lots of reviews that mention our customer service as a highlight of their shopping experience.
Whether a customer has contacted us with a query, a return or a special request, we ensure that we take the time to respond personally and in full. I respond to most calls and emails myself; this means that I can answer quickly and with authority. It also means that I’m immediately aware of any issues or concerns that customers may have.
Although a personal response from the business owner isn’t always possible, valuing the contact you have with your customers and using their feedback to shape our business is vital to us.
Even in industries that appear saturated, with the right approach, it’s possible to perform well. Start by setting out your own standards and then stick to them. Then share your expertise with your customers so they can make their own choices. Also, recognise the value of every interaction with your customers and listen to what they’ve got to say.
For us, this approach has not only been effective, but it’s also been lots of fun. For me, getting to know our customers and sharing useful insights with them is often a highlight of my day.