The quandary on where to get your vape gear remains. Nowadays, there’s so much stuff online that you may not feel the need to go in-store. So does the prevalence of online vape stores completely diminish the role of the physical store? Maybe not.
For some bits of equipment, whether you get it online or offline doesn’t matter – and if you know what you’re getting, then it really doesn’t matter. But it’s not always so clear cut. Therefore in this post, we’re going to outline the pros and cons of buying your vape equipment both online and in-store. There are more factors at play than you might believe.
Why buy online
In general, people buy more online now than they ever have before, primarily for convenience. By and large, you can pick from a huge range of products and shop around in seconds to find the best deal. Products tend to be cheaper online than in the shop as well.
Another argument for shopping online is that it’s no-pressure shopping. You aren’t subjected to an overbearing salesman inundating you with product specifications, nor do you feel forced into making a snap decision on a purchase that you could end up regretting. If some online salesman comes up on a website you’re browsing, you can just ignore them without feeling rude!
Being online allows you to read reviews from others who’ve previously bought the product you’re looking at, a perk you can’t get in-person. Perhaps there can be too much information online sometimes, but at least you’ll never be blindly parting with your money.
Why to avoid buying online
While the benefits of buying online are plain to see, there must still be reasons why online shopping is flawed, otherwise the physical store would be out of business entirely! So let’s consider the opposing arguments.
Just because an online product looks cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be. Many sites have hidden shipping fees and taxes that they don’t include on their showcase price. You’ll only come across these at the checkout phase.
Furthermore, if you’re purchasing online then you’re going to have to wait a little while for your product to be delivered or fork out more to get it delivered as soon as possible. If your equipment has broken or you’re low on e-liquid, waiting even a day is too long. In that situation, shopping online is rendered useless.
Inquisitive or unsure about vaping and what it entails? You may feel more comfortable having an in-person discussion with an informed advisor who can answer your specific questions and help you to buy a product which will be exactly right for you. With online shopping, there’s always going to be some guesswork. The reviews you read are in the prism of the person reviewing – what’s great for them may not be for you and vice versa.
If you’ve ended up buying a product online that ends up not being what you wanted, sending it back is much more hassle than if you’re buying in-store – and you’d have to wait even longer before getting the product you really want. All that waiting around can wear thin pretty quickly, especially in the knowledge that such issues could be solved in a shop within a matter of minutes.
Advantages of buying vape equipment in-store
While the concept of a physical store is not new in the wider spectrum, it is as far as vaping is concerned! Just a decade ago, vaping wasn’t even a thing, so you weren’t going to find vape shops in the mall or in your town center. Since vape shops emerged in the internet age, it’s only logical to reason that they must have some purpose.
It’s not unusual for the local vaping community to congregate at vape stores. Having such a meeting point is a great way for keen vapers to come and share their stories, learn new tips and find out more about vaping in general. In a world where vaping is struggling to earn wider public approval, it’s vital that the vaping community is strong and organized. If there’s an important bill concerning your area, your vape shop will probably have a stance and/or a course of action. Not to mention that getting smokers to switch to vaping will always be easier in-person than it would be on the internet.
There’s also the benefit of getting to feel and try out vaping equipment before deciding whether you want to buy or not. You’ll also have the opportunity to experiment with various e-juices – providing the shop owner is generous and laid back!
The vape shop is often much more than a vape shop as well, hence why some are known as vape lounges. These really do build on the “vape community” theory as effectively communal areas where vapers can get together, bring food, beverages and entertainment, and just chill out and vape with others. Moreover, all the vaping equipment you could ever need is right on hand. The vape lounge has perfected the art of convenience!
Lending support to local businesses can also be a very gratifying feeling. The smaller, independent vape shops are typically run by vaping enthusiasts who are great for the community and people we really need to keep involved. Some of the larger, chain vaping stores are obviously more profit orientated, but the beauty is that you can pick and choose where you shop! What’s more, if you don’t think the local shop is doing enough to politically help vaping, you can always share your knowledge and encourage action on stuff like deeming deadlines, flavor bans. Market forces ultimately determine who sinks and who swims in business, so if you know a vape shop does a lot of good, it’s in your interest and every vaper’s to keep them afloat. Otherwise, the vaping community dies.
Disadvantages of buying vape equipment in-store
Ultimately, shopping in-store can sometimes be more expensive. If there’s not much of a price difference, then maybe buying in-store is better, but you shouldn’t accept being ripped off just to keep a vape shop in business. And as we touched on, some are just profit orientated and not worth protecting anyway. You have to use your intuition here.
Salesmen are a right pain too, particularly if you know your vaping. There is little worse than being advised about what to buy by somebody who knows less than you do! There’s also nothing appealing about being overly pressured to part with your cash just so an employee can get a commission. Avoid unethical, pushy salesmen at all costs – even if they’re selling a good product, why support poor customer service?
Stores are going to be limited in their stock too – perhaps they don’t have the color you want or maybe the product itself. While products go out of stock online too, at least you’re made aware of this straight away (and you can often still order and receive the product once it is back in stock) instead of having to traipse to the story only to leave disappointed, or purchase something that doesn’t totally suit your requirements.
As a matter of convenience, you can buy from an online store 24/7. Vape shops simply can’t offer that much flexibility, and if you’re on a restricted time schedule or need a product urgently, a vape shop may not be helpful to you, as opposed to an online store that is always ready to take your money!
Conclusion: buy online or in-store?
Personal preference is going to be the overriding factor in whether you choose to buy your vape gear online or in-store. The reason both exist is because they suit different people for different purposes. A real vaping enthusiast will probably find themselves buying via both routes!
Buying in-store is awesome if you want to feel part of the vaping community and are keen to get the whole experience with likeminded folk. They’re also a great way to introduce yourself to new aspects of vaping and learn about the subject in general. By spending a few dollars in the independent shops and vape lounges, you’re not only doing something for yourself but for vaping as a whole. That the vape shops are doing a service in turning smokers into vapers makes them worth supporting on that basis alone.
However, for day-to-day vaping needs and the more obscure products, buying online is definitely the way to go. You can pick your products and complete your order in a matter of minutes and usually make a great saving too. Moreover, online stores tend to do pre-order offers and general deals, and you may find a discount coupon to shave off a few dollars too. For e-liquids, if you know what the product is, there’s just no reason to trek to the shop for it.
Have any thoughts about where to get your vaping gear? Be sure to drop us a line below on your vaping habits and your local vaping community.