Selling CBD on Shopify in 2023 and Beyond
Selling CBD on Shopify, or anywhere online, can be an extremely profitable endeavor, but there are some restrictions and regulations you must abide by in order to successfully run a CBD business without any problems.
The hemp-derived and CBD (cannabidiol) industry continues to grow at a rapid pace, so we understand that many merchants are vying to get in on the action. And that’s wonderful—there is a significant amount of money to be made—but before launching a website, you must realize that it’s not quite like selling something like clothing or jewelry online: some regions still don’t allow the sale of hemp-derived CBD products online; many payment gateways and merchant accounts see CBD as part of a high-risk industry (so you’ll have to pick one that allows for CBD sales); and although the profit margins are high in the CBD space, you will most likely see extra fees for things like payment processing and potential permits.
With that said, there’s no better time to get into the CBD business, and Shopify is the platform to use! So keep reading about how to start selling CBD on Shopify.
Table of Contents for Selling CBD on Shopify
- Can I Sell CBD on Shopify?
- What’s Shopify’s CBD Policy? (Rules to Follow)
- Which Types of CBD Products Can I Sell on Shopify?
- Setting Up Your Site for Selling CBD on Shopify
- Launching a Shopify Site and Picking a CBD Theme
- Finding CBD Suppliers and Dropshippers
- Adding CBD Products to Shopify
- Choosing a CBD-friendly Payment Processor
- Which is the Best Shopify CBD Payment Processor?
- Getting a CBD-friendly Merchant Account
Can I Sell CBD on Shopify?
It depends on:
- Your business location
- Your ability to get a CBD-friendly payment processor (you can’t just us PayPal or Stripe)
- Your ability to get a CBD-friendly merchant account
- Potential regional regulations
- Your supplier’s certifications
Having said that, you can start selling CBD on Shopify if:
- You’re a merchant based in the United States (or Canada—but there are drastically different requirements)
- You follow all state and federal rules on hemp-derived online sales
- You partner with a CBD-friendly payment processor and merchant account
That all may sound like a lot, but it’s rather easy to get CBD-friendly payment processing and merchant accounts if you’re in the US. You’re definitely limited to just a few companies, but once you have that, and a viable supplier, Shopify has no problem with you selling CBD through its platform.
However, we strongly recommend consulting a lawyer with experience in the CBD online sales space so that you’re abiding by all rules in your municipality and applying for potential permits and applications that may be required.
Canadian CBD Sellers
Luckily, merchants in Canada have the opportunity for selling CBD on Shopify as well! However, Canadien law is different from the US, so you need to follow those accordingly.
To use Shopify for selling CBD in Canada:
- You must be a licensed cannabis seller
- You can only launch a store using Shopify Plus (the enterprise version of Shopify)
- You must comply with all Canadian laws about selling products derived from cannabis plants
As of right now, Shopify doesn’t allow for the selling of CBD products through its platform for non-US or non-Canadian merchants.
What’s Shopify’s CBD Policy?
Shopify’s CBD policy has a long list of requirements, so you should read through the entire thing to ensure you’re following the rules. Otherwise, you run the risk of Shopify, or your payment processor, shutting down your platform (and although there will probably be a notification, there have been reports of this happening without notice).
Again, we highly recommend reading the entire Shopify CBD policy.
Here’s a summary to get you started:
- Your CBD business must be located in the United States of America or Canada
- To sell CBD on Shopify, you must submit an Attestation for the Sale of Hemp and Hemp-Derived Products—this is a document you sign and submit to show that you agree with, and will comply with, all requirements put forth by Shopify when selling CBD on the platform
- Shopify states that you need to review federal, state, and local laws on hemp-derived sales on your own and with a legal professional—you must abide by all laws for your own business, so as to not sell to states or locales where it’s not allowed
- It’s required to apply for a CBD-friendly payment processor and link that to Shopify—the Shopify Payments system lacks support for CBD merchants
- You must turn off all SMS text notifications included with your store; you’re only allowed to send email notifications for orders and shipping when selling CBD online
- Unless approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) no business may make the claim that CBD has any therapeutic or medicinal benefits
- Shopify Payments is not an option for hemp-derived or CBD payment processing through Shopify; this is because you can sell some products on Shopify but be restricted from the Shopify Payments processor (mainly because Shopify Payments is simply a white branded version of Stripe, which is an entirely different company with its own rules)
- You must partner with a CBD-approved payment processor like DigiPay or Bankful—and hook it up to your Shopify store—to accept payments for hemp-derived products on Shopify
- You can still hire a Shopify Expert for your CBD business, as long as you run it by them beforehand (just in case a Shopify Expert has issues with working on a CBD project)
- If you already run a Shopify store with Shopify Payments, and you intend to add CBD or hemp-derived products to your product catalog, you need to deactivate Shopify Payments and sign up for a CBD-friendly payment processing company—trying to slide this by Shopify is grounds for shutting down your account
- You should prepare for a more rigorous vetting and application process when seeking out CBD-friendly payment processors and merchant accounts; you may find that processing fees are higher due to the industry involved
- You can still bring a payment processor that’s not on the approved list from Shopify as long as it supports the sale of hemp-derived products and has an integration with Shopify
- You are permitted to sell CBD and hemp-derived items alongside non-hemp-derived items in the same store, granted you have a payment processor that’s CBD-friendly
- There’s nothing wrong with providing a link to a CBD store from your store that uses Shopify Payments, but only if the site that you’re linking to is utilizing a CBD-friendly payment processor
- You can still sell on Shopify if you were at one point removed from the Shopify Payments system
- Be sure to consult a legal professional, and set your shipping zones to remove states, regions, or municipalities that don’t allow the sale of CBD
- Each shipping service has its own policies when handling hemp-derived products. You’re more than welcome to ship CBD items after selling them through Shopify—but you must first apply for the carrier and ensure they integrate with Shopify
- Most major carriers allow for hemp-derived product shipments, but you often have to fill out an extra application when setting up your business account
- In-person sales are allowed through Shopify POS hardware, as long as the hardware doesn’t require you to use the Shopify Payments processing; most Shopify POS hardware (and the Shopify POS software) allows for third-party payment processing
Which Types of CBD Products Can I Sell on Shopify?
The types of CBD and hemp-derived products you sell through Shopify depend entirely on your business location.
Canada has its own laws; so does the United States. Furthermore, you may be restricted by some laws in your jurisdiction.
Here’s a general list of CBD and hemp-derived products you can sell online in the United States (this is a mix of what’s available from the FDA and Shopify):
Hemp-derived Products you CAN Sell
Keep in mind that most US states regulate CBD sales under state-specific legal hemp programs, so this list may not be entirely accurate depending on your location and the timeframe. However, US federal law has made it legal to sell CBD products thanks to the Farm Bill (with many stipulations).
Here are some products you can sell:
- Products containing no more than 0.3% THC (regardless of the compound, like delta-9 and delta-10)
- CBD isolate (a pure liquid form of CBD that’s often taken as drops on the tongue)
- Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum hemp
- Lotions and balms and other topicals
- Oils, tinctures, and oral droplets
- Skincare products
- Non-alcoholic CBD-infused drinks
- Bath bombs and salts
- CBD soap
- Oil sprays
- CBD-infused food like candies and drinks and brownies
- Capsules and tablets
- CBD vaping items
Hemp-derived Products You (Usually) CAN’T Sell
This is a general list that should be cross-referenced with a legal professional, seeing as how the acceptable products tend to change, and they may be different based on your location:
- Dietary supplements
- Products with labels claiming medical or therapeutic benefits
- Non-FDA-approved food, animal food, or feed with CBD added then sold in interstate commerce
- Any product sold with more than 0.3% THC and marketed as CBD (some states do allow for THC sales)
Setting Up Your Site for Selling CBD on Shopify
With all of the regulations figured out, and applications submitted, you’re now ready to launch a website that’s built to sell CBD products. Yes, you still have to get a CBD-friendly payment processor—and a supplier—but you can complete that process while designing your website. After all, Shopify has a 14-day free trial, and its monthly payments are rather affordable after that.
Launching a Shopify Site and Picking a CBD Theme
Go to the Shopify landing page for selling CBD. You can technically go to any page on Shopify, but this landing page offers tips on selling CBD through Shopify, along with rules (like how you must be a US or Canadian merchant).
Walk through the initial signup steps to get all of the proper information into your account. You can skip many of these, but the important part is that you create an account with your email address and password.
Once in your Shopify account, go to Sales Channels > Online Store > Themes.
Scroll down to the Theme Library section; click on Add Theme, then Visit Theme Store.
Use keywords in the search bar of the Industry filters to find relevant themes that may apply to the hemp or CBD market. There aren’t any themes specifically named “CBD,” but we were able to find a wide range of acceptable “CBD-ish” templates in these categories:
- Food and drink
- Health and beauty
- Outdoor and garden
And we searched for “hemp” with excellent results. We encourage you to focus on the type of product you’re trying to sell outside of hemp or CBD. For instance, if you’re selling CBD gummies, consider browsing through food themes to see which ones might match. Or, think about picking a health and beauty theme if you intend to sell hemp-derived cosmetics or lotions.
Once you’ve found the ideal theme for your Shopify CBD store, click to add it to your store (you must also click the Publish button in the Shopify dashboard for it to become active). There are a handful of free themes from Shopify, but many of the best features come from premium themes.
After activating a new theme on your Shopify store, click the Customize button in Sales Channels > Themes.
This reveals the Shopify design module, where you can:
- Add a logo (design a logo with the free Hatchful Logo Maker from Shopify)
- Change backgrounds and color schemes
- Adjust media, icons, and buttons
- Add social media buttons
- Embed apps
- Showcase products and add cart buttons
- Show an email signup form
- Edit the header and footer
- Include promotional banners
- And much more!
Make sure you click the Save button whenever you’re done with customizations.
Finding CBD Suppliers and Dropshippers
Unless you’re a producer of CBD products, you need to find a supplier.
The easiest way to go about that is locating a verified CBD dropshipper through Shopify.
The Finding Products section of the Shopify App Store is a wonderful place to start.
- Dropshipping apps to partner with CBD suppliers around the world
- Print-on-demand apps, some of which stock hemp-based clothing and merchandise
- Fulfillment apps for when you need a 3rd party logistics company to store and ship CBD products you source from another company
As mentioned, it’s best to at least begin with a dropshipping app (you can branch out to self-fulfillment checkouts or self-production later on). This way, you can partner with an established, certified producer/supplier of CBD products, while cutting down on shipping, storage, packaging, and production costs (since the dropshipper does all of that for you).
Dropshipping apps don’t connect you with one supplier, but thousands. Once you’ve installed a dropshipping app, search for CBD suppliers that carry products you want to sell.
Here are the main dropshipping apps with suppliers that sell CBD products:
- Spocket: Perhaps the best dropshipping app for CBD due to its focus on dropshipping directly from US and EU suppliers. You’ll find isolates, CBD oil, bath bombs, creams, and more. The margins are respectable, and the shipping will be much faster when compared to items coming straight from China. Spocket also has a section to search AliExpress for added options.
- DropCommerce: Excellent hemp-derived products; quite a few clothing and handbag items made from hemp, along with bath bombs and skincare products with hemp and CBD—all shipped from the United States.
- Modalyst: An alternative to Spocket for US-based dropshipping.
- DSers: Connects you with suppliers through AliExpress; you can find plenty of products that ship from the US, Canada, and the UK, but most of them come straight from China (potentially longer shipping times). During our research, we found that DSers is best for some CBD oils and isolates, but primarily for accessories like vape pens and cartridges.
- CJDropshipping: Another solid option for connecting directly to AliExpress suppliers.
To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, apps that dropship CBD primarily from the US, Canada, or the UK provide significantly more CBD products. Not to mention, you can expect faster shipping, and you don’t have to worry about questionable items that may not follow regulations from China.
AliExpress, on the other hand, is a great solution for CBD accessories (like vape pens and merchandise), but the actual CBD products are limited, will take a long time to ship from China, and may not have local certifications.
Adding Your CBD Products
With a CBD supplier, you can now add products to your online store.
For example, you might have the Spocket app installed. In the Spocket dashboard (which gets linked to Shopify) you can search for CBD and hemp products. When you find a potential item to sell, open its product page to identify if it would make for a quality dropshipping option.
- List Price: To understand how much it costs whenever you sell the product
- Retail Price: For an estimate of how much you can make on each sale
- Processing Time: The amount of time it takes to package and ship the product
- Shipping Time: The amount of time (and the cost) to ship to places like the US and Worldwide (although worldwide shipping may not be allowed for many CBD products)
During your review, figure out if you think the processing time plus shipping time is reasonable enough for the average customer. Will they get frustrated if they have to wait more than a week? Usually, anywhere between 3-6 days is acceptable for processing and shipping of dropshipped goods.
In addition, add the Listing Price to the Shipping Cost to ensure you’re still receiving a worthwhile profit margin (and don’t forget to factor in all your overhead costs).
For this example, total processing and shipping range from 3-6 days, and the listing price plus shipping cost equals $132.50, which results in a $42.50 profit (this is an estimate since you can price products however you want). Not bad!
Note: Spocket indicates the extra cost to ship additional products in each order. Shoot for as close to $0 as possible, as selling several items per order should theoretically decrease your overall costs.
Once you’re satisfied with a product, click the Add To Import List button.
Note: You also have the option to order samples or check out product variants before selling a product to your customers.
Thereafter, send/sync all importable products to your Shopify store. All product details from the supplier get transferred to the product page (including images, descriptions, and pricing), but you can edit them however you want in Shopify. In fact, we recommend making your own product titles and descriptions for SEO and branding purposes.
Some dropshipping apps offer free plans, but they’re usually fairly limited. And most of the viable CBD dropshipping apps only have premium plans (such as Spocket).
So, we recommend signing up for a free trial in order to test out if you enjoy the interface. After that, the small monthly fees for an app like Spocket should be paid for with just a sale or two.
Choosing a CBD-friendly Payment Processor
One of the main choices you need to make when selling CBD on Shopify is your payment processor. As mentioned several times in this article, Shopify Payments isn’t an option for CBD and hemp-derived sales; that’s primarily because Shopify Payments is simply a white-labeled version of Stripe, which is a payment processing company that doesn’t allow for CBD sales.
In fact, many of the major payment processing companies reject applications from CBD stores because they belong to a “high-risk” industry. That may change in the future but, for now, you must apply to a CBD-friendly payment processor instead of Shopify Payments or other popular third-party options like Authorize.net or Square.
We recommend completing your own research from the full list of payment gateways supported by Shopify. The Shopify list of CBD-friendly payment gateways is a short one, but they do say that their list isn’t always as accurate as it should be. Therefore, if you find a suitable, CBD-friendly processor with a Shopify integration, feel free to use it on your store.
Which is the Best Shopify CBD Payment Processor?
As of right now, Shopify recommends two payment processors for CBD sales through its platform:
DigiPay is one of the best Shopify CBD payment processors due to its focus on the CBD ecommerce and retail business. It has a streamlined application process, and tends to provide easier and quicker approval odds than many other payment gateways. The company supports B2B sales of hemp-derived products, 3-7 day underwriting, credit card suites, and decent pricing compared to other hemp-supportive payment gateways. There’s also included fraud protection, risk managers, and vetted security measures.
Bankful is yet another excellent choice for selling CBD on Shopify. It provides a smooth Shopify integration, 5-7 day underwriting, a full credit card suite, and a respectable timeframe for getting approved. Bankful also does a wonderful job of ensuring that your site maintain regulatory compliance.
We know it’s somewhat frustrating to be restricted to only two payment processors (especially since Shopify traditionally supports 100s), but that’s the way of the CBD industry right now. A significant amount of progress has been made for getting hemp and CBD-friendly payment gateways, but it does currently make sense that larger providers have no reason to take any of that risk—even if the risk is a small one.
Getting a CBD-friendly Merchant and Bank Account
Merchant accounts are technically separate from the payment processor. They serve as bank accounts for collecting the money that eventually gets passed from customer to merchant. However, you can generally receive a merchant account from your payment processor. Many of them include payment processing with merchant accounts as an all-in-one package.
This is particularly true for the CBD business. Payment processors want to make the application as seamless as possible, so Bankful and DigiPay both have their own underwriting processes for delivering a merchant account alongside your payment processing portal.
So, we typically recommend you apply for a merchant account through your payment processor.
Having said that, a business banking account is an entirely different story. You must complete your own research to figure out if your bank allows for you to accept money for CBD sales. And it’s particularly important to disclose that when applying for the business account; otherwise they may shut down or freeze your account for violating their terms and services.
It’s harder to find a business banking account that’s CBD-friendly, but they’re out there. We recommend checking with your local banks, considering whichever banks you currently use for personal banking, and asking your payment processing company—like DigiPay or Bankful—for recommendations on the best CBD-friendly business banking accounts.
Are You Ready for Selling CBD on Shopify?
Selling CBD on Shopify—or anywhere online for that matter—requires more research than the average ecommerce business operation. You may need to submit extra fees and applications, and understand where you’re allowed to sell CBD products.
For now, you can only sell CBD through Shopify in the USA and Canada. Hopefully, that opens up to other countries in the future. If you’d like to run a business in a different country that’s not supported by Shopify (or perhaps you’re interested in additional payment processing solutions), look into other CBD-friendly ecommerce platforms like Wix, Bigcommerce, and Squarespace (not quite as CBD-friendly, but it’s possible).
Have you sold CBD products through Shopify or another platform? If so, please let us know your thoughts and experiences of the process below.