Creating An International CBD Brand: Interview With John Flanders

Creating An International CBD Brand: Interview With John Flanders
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Retail entrepreneur John Flanders explains how he stopped a gap in the market in the growing CBD space, by creating high-quality, face-to-face dialogue with his customers at brick and mortar stores around the United States.

1) What are the pros and cons of having a brick & mortar brand presence for driving sales and what convinced you to focus on this channel to grow CBD Emporium?

JF – This is not my first time working in retail. In fact, I thought brick and mortar retail would go the way of the buggy whip. However, CBD is different. People enjoy coming into the store and touching the product, speaking with a CBD consultant, and having a face-to-face dialog with someone who is knowledgeable about the product. We see with all of our physical locations that people want a trusted source that they can go and build a relationship with not only a brand or a product, but a CBD Consultant who has the experience to recommend small changes or consistent purchases. They have history with the product with hundreds of people and can share that experience with people still exploring CBD. When you have around 20 locations like CBD Emporium, that is a lot of data points. CBD Emporium has spent over $250,000 in a training program that not only gets our CBD Consultants up to speed, but also keeps them up-to-date with changes and new products. Technology in the CBD space is expanding every month. Our consultants have to expand with it.

However, brick and mortar has its challenges too. This includes staffing, overhead, logistics, and more. It’s a balance. But, right now, brick and mortar has the advantage over a virtual environment. Simply, there is no way to create the same dynamic online like looking someone in the eyes, face to face.

2) How has the COVID-19 situation expedited the need to transition from brick & mortar locations to e-commerce for businesses like yours?

JF - We have been online since the inception of opening our first store. Unlike many CBD Companies, our website was intended to be a resource for our brick and mortar customers. The number one most trafficked page on our Website is our location finder. Since Covid-19 has struck, our Web traffic is up 200% and our online orders have increased over 500%. A lot of those orders are coming from brick and mortar customers. However, there are a lot of new folks buying from us as well. It is great to see people looking at CBD as a part of their Health and Wellness regimen during this global crisis.

3) Looking at the CBD Emporium range, it is diverse in the number of SKUs you've created. Has this played a critical role in your success and how has this allowed you to grow the business?

JF – Emporium means large marketplace. We believe there is a great power in consumer choice. We have an entire internal team who is dedicated in finding creative, innovative, and new products for us to offer to our growing client-base. In many CBD stores, people only have 2 or 3 full line brands from which to choose. At CBD Emporium, we offer dozens of brands in each of our locations.

4) Which marketing channels have been most effective for growing the business online given the limitations on advertising in the CBD space?

JF – CBD Emporium is a people-oriented business. It is no surprise that traditional, direct marketing has been the greatest source of new business and/or foot traffic. When looking at the online space, Google My Business and Google Search has been the biggest referral source for our company. Yelp is a distant second. Although, we are very gracious for all the great referrals we have received.

5) As the CBD industry becomes more competitive and mainstream what features do you think will distinguish the biggest winners and what steps will you take to ensure CBD Emporium remains among them?

JF – That truly is the million dollar question! However, I think what will distinguish CBD Emporium is that we are the MOST TRUSTED source to learn about and purchase CBD. To be empowered with a broad product choice. Our mission is to inform, educate, and guide our customers to better health and wellness. That education starts by having talented, extremely well trained CBD consultant that someone can have a one-on-one, face-to-face conversation. We back all our products with a 30-day 100% customer satisfaction guarantee. We put our money where our mouth is on every transaction, and with every customer. Having a nationwide brand that is recognized as a flagship to the qualities is what will ensure CBD Emporium is a first choice in providing CBD. Our team is second to none in this business. We are all committed to the highest quality levels in the industry.

JF - Thank you so much for the opportunity to talk about my favorite subject … the passion and experience a client receives at CBD Emporium. Cheers, John

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