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Introducing CBD Subscription on Shopify

Written by
Mike Fryers
September 24, 2023

With all the huge reveals and new apps we got in the latest Shopify Summer Editions, there were a number of smaller updates that may have got lost in all the noise. After all, Shopify Summer Editions 2023 featured more than 100 new announcements in total, as we recently covered in our roundup article. We want to focus on one of those smaller bits of news today – the announcement that CBD retailers would now have access to Shopify’s subscription tools. Let’s talk about why that’s so important.

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The Incredible Growth of the CBD Industry

CBD is extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis has two main active components, known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). While THC is a psychoactive substance that makes users feel “high” (and in higher doses or prolonged use, can even lead to hallucinations or psychotic episodes), the CBD part, in contrast, tends to deliver what many users describe as a mellow, relaxing effect. 

The THC part is the main reason why cannabis has traditionally been illegal in so many parts of the world. But as the technology to separate the two has improved, many countries have been reviewing their legislation in recent years… and agreeing that, actually, CBD on its own is probably not such a bad thing.

The cannabis plant has been used medicinally by various cultures, going back thousands of years. CBD users today claim that the substance helps to alleviate depression, anxiety and PTSD, and that it also leads to deeper and better sleep. Trials are ongoing to look at the potential benefits of CBD in treating conditions such as epilepsy. Significantly, without the psychoactive THC element, most users claim to experience zero negative side effects at all.

CBD is rapidly becoming legal in countries all around the world. It is legal to consume in the UK, so long as it contains no trace of THC (which remains a controlled substance). CBD is legal throughout the EU with only a few exceptions, while in the US, CBD was made legal in all 50 states as of February 2022.

The result of all this has been an absolute boom in innovation. CBD products seem to be everywhere now – from vapes, to soft drinks, to tablets and oils. You can buy CBD breath sprays, and it’s even beginning to be added to some foods. A recent article by the New York Times reported that the CBD industry in the US alone was projected to hit $16 billion by 2025.

Here at Inspira, we already have some experience of working with CBD retailers. For example, we created a fantastic new Shopify store for Cheerful Buddha, a brand offering a wide variety of wellness and relaxation products (such as chocolates, and coffee) infused with CBD.

Previously, it was not possible for CBD retailers to make use of streamlined subscription services for such products through Shopify. But now, let’s look at how that’s all changed.

Selling CBD Subscriptions on Shopify

Retailers have been allowed to sell CBD products on Shopify for a while now – provided that its THC content was below 0.3%, and naturally, on the condition that they followed and took responsibility for all the legal requirements involved, in regard to both their own local legislation and also the places that they shipped to. 

Shopify offered an approved list of CBD products that might be sold on their platform, including: edibles and gummies, ointments, concentrates, vapes, and CBD products for pets.

However, a major caveat of this was that CBD retailers were not able to use Shopify Payments as their payment processor. Therefore, the necessary workaround up until now, was that CBD retailers could build their store and manage their inventory through Shopify, but then they had to connect a different payment gateway before they could actually accept payments from buyers.

Further to that, one recent update to Shopify policy meant that retailers could no longer use third-party payment gateways such as Bold and PayWhirl – both of which had provided useful subscription features. As a consumable product, it makes a lot of sense that retailers would want the option of selling recurring subscriptions for their CBD goods. But the solutions for actually achieving this were few and far between.

And then we got Shopify Summer Editions 2023.

The massive news here for CBD retailers is that Shopify has changed its policy to allow CBD products to be sold through its own payment gateway opening the door for CBD Subscriptions on Shopify.

It means that retailers like our friends at Cheerful Buddha can now sell their wellbeing products with no extra fuss, no app plug-ins or workarounds necessary – and all managed through Shopify’s streamlined and easy-to-use interface.

It’s a great time to be selling CBD on Shopify right now!

If you are a CBD retailer, and you’re not already on Shopify, it might be time to think about making the transition. Or perhaps you’re already there, but you want to upgrade your store – get those subscription plans going, or update to Shopify Plus.

Whatever the case, why not get in touch with us and talk it through? Not only are we highly experienced with Shopify in general, but we’ve also got experience at working closely with CBD retailers on the platform – and thanks to the news dropped in Shopify’s Summer Editions, we can now make your online CBD store more powerful than ever.

Thanks for reading, we’re Inspira Digital.

We launched the 123rd store on Shopify, today we are one of the most experienced Shopify Experts in the world, delivering industry-leading Shopify services for fast-growing ambitious brands. We have helped build 100s of successful stores and have delivered 1000s of individual projects for Shopify and Shopify Plus clients globally.

Clients that work with us know we work passionately, to make sense of your commerce business, so if you want to talk to a team of experts about how best to take advantage of the Shopify platform, then let's talk.

Inspira Digital — High volume commerce handled beautifully.

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