Today, we dive into a much talked about industry - electronic cigarettes. Obscured in a cloud of intrigue, we spoke to MistHub about how they’re capitalizing on the emergence of a massive industry that’s been grabbing so many headlines recently.
MistHub’s story is a fascinating one. They started off by selling hookah and were soon introduced to electronic cigarettes through family members that had quit smoking thanks to this new technology. As they dug into the market, they uncovered a whole new world of vibrant communities discussing new developments in the vaping industry. After extensive research they ordered one shipment to sell on their eCommerce shopping cart. When they flew off the shelves, they knew they had an interesting opportunity on their hands. More importantly, they saw that this was a product that could really change people’s lives for the better.
“My mom quit smoking through e-cigarettes, and I saw first-hand the benefits that this product could bring to people’s lives.” - Andre Timokhin, Co-founder & CTO
Not only is e-cig technology picking up rapidly, the potential size of the market is pretty astounding - Wells Fargo estimates that the US vapor market consists of around $2.5 billion.
Of course, there are challenges to running a business in this industry. Perceptions of the industry and of the products are still developing and evolving, and regulators are struggling to keep up. As a result, there’s an element of uncertainty involved. To stay ahead of the curve, MistHub knew that they needed to stay agile and have contingency plans in place to be able to deal with sudden changes.
Because regulations are still being established, the company worked hard to ensure that the products they source are absolutely top of the line. MistHub works with top of the line device suppliers and only local E-Juice manufacturers with established reputations to guarantee the quality of their products.
Since it’s a relatively new industry, part of MistHub’s mission is to educate people about the industry. Keeping a blog, releasing infographics, and maintaining an active online presence are all a part of their marketing strategy. Regular blog posts and tutorials on how to vape safely for instance, are particularly popular.
“Our long term plan is to become the Amazon of e-cigarettes - we want to do wholesale, retail, brick and mortar...the works!”
As for their long-term ambitions, MistHub wants to not only be the go-to seller of e-cigarette and vape-related products, but a knowledge source where people go to get information. Not only will this increase engagement for existing customers, it serves as a great inbound marketing strategy, attracting potential customers by providing useful information about vaping and e-cigarette products.
“We want to educate people so that they make informed purchasing decisions - so that they actually buy what they need!”
With so much competition in the market, attracting visitors is just the first step.
What’s their secret?
Like many of our customers, MistHub used spreadsheets prior to their transition to TradeGecko. Inventory was reconciled approximately once a month, and it was nearly impossible to know for certain how much stock they had at any given time.
This problem became more pronounced as the business really took off and had to deal with multiple sales channels. Simultaneously running an eCommerce store, a wholesale business, and a front office with retail operations can be a daunting task - even with the most sophisticated spreadsheets.
They knew how important it was to consolidate all of this information as soon as possible - especially as the company grew and operations became increasingly complex. To help manage the rapid growth and increased inventory demands, MistHub integrated TradeGecko with their eCommerce and shipping platforms. As a result it automated many processes and created an efficient working environment.
“TradeGecko is the product master database - it’s the system that’s at the center of our entire business.”
In addition to the TradeGecko system, MistHub also offers the Private B2B Ecommerce Portal for their wholesale customers. In fact, it’s one of the selling points that they’ve passed on to their customers. By allowing customers to log in to their own customized portal, MistHub can save valuable admin time while customers have the flexibility to place orders at their own convenience - while having real time updates of inventory information.
For front office retail customers, MistHub uses the TradeGecko Mobile for iOS app as a product catalog. Since not all products are displayed, customers see all the products that are in stock to place orders that way.
In any rapidly emerging industry, especially one with such a high potential payoff, a multitude of players will try and compete for the market at the same time.
To succeed in both the B2C and B2B space, it’s integral that companies leverage all the tools available to try and stand out. For MistHub, they’ve established a holistic online presence, supplemented by a sophisticated technological ecosystem, which has helped them do just that.