E-Commerce Communities: The Future of Vaping
By John Madden Posted January 10, 2014
Until recently, the vast majority of e-commerce for vape-related products has been conducted through online merchants and community co-ops. Ordering from an online vape store is widely known to offer a cheaper price than buying from a brick & mortar shop. But what if I told you there was a way to simply order directly from the manufacturer and receive an even bigger discount? Two independent websites are seeking to offer just that: a community for members to purchase directly from the manufacturer at or near wholesale cost and, in the case of the latter I will discuss, even collaborate to have a say in exactly what they want.
Congrevape: The Kickstarter For Vaping Gear
This past summer a Long Beach, CA-based website set out to make things a little easier for both vapers and manufacturers. Dubbed as the “Kickstarter for vaping gear”, Congrevape is a crowdfunding website solely for projects related to electronic cigarettes. Past projects have included mods, atomizers, e-liquid and even drip tips and rebuild equipment.
Creators have two options to choose from when setting up their project on Congrevape. For an 11 percent fee, creators can set up a managed project in which Congrevape collects all customer payments and forwards the final lump sum to the creator if the goal is met. The creator then ships the “rewards” to Congrevape as one bulk shipment. Upon receipt of the product, Congrevape then sends out individual shipments to all backers.
To save money, a creator can choose the self-serve option and assume all shipping responsibilities. As with a managed project, Congrevape collects all payments before wiring the total to the creator, less a 5 percent collection fee to cover credit card transaction costs.
Congrevape mixes a bit of group buying with a dab of crowd funding to help manufacturers either fund their latest project or get rid of surplus product. The end result is a plethora of hit or miss deals for the vaping community. Some projects like any of the Sony 30amp VTC3 and VTC4 package deals get funded well beyond their goal while others fail to attract much attention.
Massdrop: By The People, For The People!
A second online marketplace has recently started offering massive deals on electronic cigarettes. Massdrop is a community commerce website that's been around since the middle of 2012. It's a marketplace for passionate communities, where members choose what they sell and buy in bulk together. The website allows members to vote on the products they care about and Massdrop utilizes the buying power of the group to get them the best prices possible.
Unlike Congrevape, Massdrop takes a “by the people, for the people” approach to group buys. Once a product is voted on by the community, Massdrop will negotiate a price with the manufacturer and then choose the cheapest shipping method, either directly from manufacturer to purchaser or via their own fulfillment center.
Because e-cigarettes are relatively new to Massdrop, the selection available for purchase is currently limited but there are several polls open for ecig-related items. And these vaping related polls seem to be pretty popular, although, members are still encouraged to create their own or even add items of interest to existing ones. The more people who vote and create polls, the more and more products they’ll see.
Typical discounts range from 15 to 60 percent off MSRP and are set up in three tiers for each deal. For example, the Renegade Smith drip tip is priced at $18 with at least five purchased or committed on. But if just ten more drip tips are committed to purchase, its price drops down to $10, 50 percent off MSRP!
Are they worth it?
I've personally yet to use Massdrop, as it is a new website to me, but it has a lot of potential to bring vapers anything from rebuildable atomizers and high-end mods to batteries and everything in between. Judging by the activity in the polls section, it won't be long before more vaping-related items are negotiated for discounts, so long as you get on there and vote for what you'd want to buy!
As for Congrevape, I have already placed a few orders. The only issue I've come across is shipping time. However this is due in part to everything I ordered having come from China as well as delays due to the holidays. On the plus side, I now have 4 more 30amp Sony batteries and two new atomizers and spent under $80 for everything combined.
With Congrevape, I paid no additional cost for shipping. For the most part, Massdrop provides free domestic shipping on vaporizer products. So, as long as the FDA doesn't ban internet sales of ecig-related products in the near future, both Congrevape and Massdrop stand to shake up the online marketplace for vapers.