Selling cigars on BigCommerce 101

For BigCommerce site owners thinking of setting up a premium cigar website and accepting credit card payments, it should come as no surprise that selling cigars online is a lucrative business. The online cigar market has everything a site owner would need when choosing a niche: high margin potential, modest competition, and qualified search traffic.

The main challenge we assist many cigar site owners with is the ability to accept credit cards, without hassle, through their site platform of choice. One of our favorite platforms for cigar sales and high-risk processing is BigCommerce. After all, it’s easy to set up, manage, and sell premium cigars on this platform.

From our perspective, its best feature is that it is fully compatible with the best high-risk payment gateway options for cigar merchants which makes it easy to recommend stable, cigar friendly merchant accounts. Since 2003, we have specialized in helping high-risk business types get suitable payment gateways and have really fallen in love with BigCommerce’s merchant account options and excellent customer service.

We recently wrote an article about selling cigars on WooCommerce, which is an open source e-commerce solution. However, not everyone enjoys the intricacy and detail involved in an open source platform. Simply put: it can become confusing with all the extra options and abilities for coders and web developers. This is why many of us want a reliable and easy to use platform that focuses on the features and functions we need, a platform like BigCommerce. BigCommerce is an excellent solution for premium cigar merchants who want a reliable platform with tons of easy to use features.

Cigar sales on BigCommerce

Starting off right: sell cigars with BigCommerce

BigCommerce is easy to use right from the sign-up. You’ll start by choosing a template theme and then customize it to your liking. There are even BigCommerce themes specifically for cigar sales, made by third parties, that you can integrate. You might find a lot of the features and special add-ons already installed on BigCommerce that you would have to add yourself on other platforms.

You can sign up for BigCommerce by visiting them at bigcommerce.comBefore you do though, we recommend taking a moment to contact us first so we can give you some free, friendly advice as to which payment integrations will work best for your business. 

BigCommerce is exceptionally welcoming to new e-commerce stores and established online businesses alike. If you have an existing store set up with virtually any other e-commerce platform, you can upload your products and store settings into BigCommerce immediately. If this is your first shop, you might notice how easy it is to create new products, add variety, and set up your shop. Then, all that’s left is selecting a payment gateway and adding the ability to accept credit cards. That’s where our recommendations come in handy, but we’ll come back to that later.

BigCommerce tries to make managing your web-store as straightforward as possible. The administrator dashboard provides all the critical information you’ll need to run your shop. The full-feature CMS allows you to check your analytics and reports. Additionally, you can review your income, revenue, orders and website visits all in one place. Ultimately, you’ll have full control over your new online cigar shop.

High-risk payment processing for BigCommerce

BigCommerce has the pre-installed ability to connect with our favorite payment processors, NMI and Authorize.Net. Either of these can host your credit card processing after you open a proper merchant account for your cigar business.

Do not make the beginners mistake of thinking that the Authorize.Net or NMI payment gateways are compatible with cigar sales out of the box; they need to have a cigar friendly merchant account on the back end. The cigar industry falls within the “high-risk” sector due to the regulated nature and inherent risks of the industry. At the same time, this means that standard payment processors like PayPal and Square are not suitable for processing your transactions. This is important to note because they won’t necessarily stop you from signing up with their services, but they may hold your funds or shut down your account.

In other words, PayPal or Stripe might allow you to sign up for their services, but you will face serious problems just a few months down the road. Once the underwriters and loss prevention folks look at your account in detail, your account can be frozen and closed. By and large, this will leave you without the means to sell or make any money through your shop. This is the horror story that many high-risk e-commerce stores fear, and frequently experience.

We specialize in connecting businesses with merchant accounts explicitly underwritten for their specific business type. In other words, you will have less trouble with payment gateways because you will be set up correctly from the beginning. We can connect you with a payment gateway, recommend a merchant account, and get your web-store up, running, and making money. With our years of experience, we can provide you the insight you need to set up the right payment gateway and merchant account.

FDA regulations and cigar sales

Many entrepreneurs avoid the cigar industry because they worry about the legal implications. Regulations in regards to the quality and distribution of cigar products do change from time to time. Fortunately, the deadline to make those changes has been pushed back from 2018 to 2021.

While it’s likely there will be some changes, it’s impossible to predict what those changes might look like.  They may or may not affect the profitability of the market. That said, the likely event is that the changes will first and foremost affect manufacturers’ profits.  In other words, distributors may only see a modest difference in price points. As we reported earlier this time last year, the FDA has lifted some burdens on premium cigars.

Another important note for this sector is a popular trend in the shipping and delivery of these products. It’s simple to add an ID check to your deliveries ensuring that you don’t inadvertently sell tobacco products to anyone under age – and break the law. This is considerably helpful for avoiding liability for any tobacco-based business, and it is required by all reputable processors that you utilize it in your business model. It is also essential to make sure that your tax calculator is set to account for the state where you deliver your products.  Most states’ taxes and fees vary, especially when it comes to online and tobacco sales.

Contact us today if you are interested in opening or transferring your online cigar shop to BigCommerce and need a cigar friendly payment gateway. We’ll provide you with assistance in finding an appropriate merchant account and will help set up your payment gateway within BigCommerce.