Both of these new looks feature a demo store selling select hemp or hemp-derived cannabidiol products, more commonly known as CBD.
Previously the Chicago style featured a dark, bold and slightly mysterious look, which the Out of the Sandbox design team has kept the general feel of in the updated “night” preset.
The new demo stores for the styles, meanwhile, are shown selling a variety of CBD products — an industry that is seeing significant growth and interest by entrepreneurs as laws in select locations begin making these products legal and easier to sell.
Two design approaches
Originally Chicago was envisioned as a distinct style with an impactful color palette and fonts to match – setting it apart from other Turbo styles.
To give merchants another unique option, the Out of the Sandbox design team has now also created a style which is the complete opposite — a “daytime” version that’s light, airy and even a little playful thanks to its pastel color palette.
These two design dichotomies are a great example of how color palettes and other design elements can shape a brand to fit a target or niche audience — no matter what products you sell.
For example, both day and night designs can be simple, clean and elegant — but a darker look often adds a layer of mystery and “grit” to a brand. Conversely, brighter colors often make a brand feel more friendly and accessible.
That said, that’s not a “hard and fast” rule — a dark design with the right combination of other colors, typography and copy can give a completely different vibe, while a lighter overall look can likewise give off the opposing mood.
Tying into a brand or product
As the legality and attitudes about products such as CBD have evolved, so has branding strategies of companies marketing and selling these products.
For example, many CBD businesses are having great success branding their products on both ends of the spectrum: Whether it be dark, sophisticated looks to more friendly and colorful designs (or anything in between) on both product packaging and Shopify theme design settings.
Even if you don’t sell hemp or CBD, these same points are still applicable to almost any other product line’s branding.
Selling CBD on Shopify
Before we go further, it’s important to note that the sale and shipping of hemp and CBD products are only legal in certain regions and under certain circumstances. You should always consult with a qualified attorney before selling these products as there could be significant legal problems if you aren’t in compliance with the current rules.
There are also typically a variety of “best practices” or legal requirements for verifying the age or location of your customers.
We’ll look at the general guidelines surrounding CBD sales, but you should always consult a professional attorney for legal advice on whether or not your products can be sold legally and where.
Using Shopify to sell CBD
As of this writing, Shopify only permits U.S. and Canadian based merchants to sell select hemp or CBD products. However, there are some important factors and limitations to point out:
Further, there are evolving laws about the legality of the sale of CBD in certain cities, towns, villages or other municipalities within each state (even if the state as a whole is on the “OK” list) — which is something an attorney will need to advise you on.
You’ll also need to consider what payment gateway you use. Shopify Payments, the “in house” payment processor that most Shopify merchants use, does not permit merchants selling any CBD products to use it at this time.
Payment gateways for Shopify and CBD
At this time, there are two payment gateways that Shopify has worked with that permit the sale of hemp and CBD products. However, there may be others not listed and you are free to use these as well — but keep in mind that they need to be compatible with Shopify.
Because of the extra processing and verification that goes into setting up a store to sell CBD, it’s important to understand it can take some time before you can start selling, so it’s better to get things rolling sooner rather than later.
You should also be prepared to face higher scrutiny when setting up an account with payment gateways — and there’s always the possibility you’ll be turned down.
It’s important to clarify that if your store sells just a single hemp or CBD product, it will become ineligible to use Shopify Payments and you will need a compatible payment gateway.
Merchants can, after consulting an attorney, set up a separate Shopify store where CBD products are sold as a way to avoid having to pay extra processing fees on non-CBD products assuming the primary store is eligible for Shopify Payments. In this scenario, you may also want to consider offering other, non-CBD products on the separate account that are likely to be of interest to your CBD customers, but be sure to write unique product descriptions for them. Again, check with your attorney and payment processor to ensure this is acceptable.
Also keep in mind that, depending on what Shopify plan you use, Shopify will charge an extra fee of 0.5%, 1% or 2% of each transaction on your store if you use a third-party gateway — even if the order doesn’t contain any CBD products, so be sure to factor that into your pricing.
In addition, payment gateways that allow the sale of products such as CBD tend to have higher processing fees and may be slower to pay out funds, so be sure to run the numbers to make sure your business model and cash flow can support this. Some may also put a “hold” on blocks of money or require upfront “deposits” because the CBD category is considered “high risk” by the payments industry.
Shipping CBD with Shopify
Shopify does allow you to use its built-in shipping tools to fulfill CBD orders as long as the corresponding carrier accepts CBD shipments. Because of the complexities around this, merchants need to contact shipping carriers and an attorney independently.
Similarly, there are also laws about where you can ship CBD or hemp products. These laws can vary greatly and need an attorney to verify you are in compliance.
There may also be requirements that deliveries can only be released to adults, so signature verification is often needed, which may add costs or cause delivery delays. Again, check with your counsel for advice.
If your online or physical store is based in a municipality or state where the sale of CBD or hemp products is restricted, you cannot sell these items or ship them to places where it is legal per Shopify rules.
Age verification for CBD on Shopify stores
Your legal counsel or laws may require or suggest that you provide a warning or verify that your products are being sold only to those of a certain age or older.
An age verification pop-up window can be a good way to do this, but, again, you’ll always want to check with a lawyer to confirm this approach is sufficient.
Some stores also use age verification pop-ups as more of a “preventative” measure — since there’s realistically no way to tell if the user is the age they claim, so be sure to check to see what your attorney advises on this method.
CBD and the Shopify ecosystem
Shopify rules allow any store to link to shops that sell CBD products but, again, you should check with an attorney about any liabilities this could cause. In some cases, you may want to consider adding a disclaimer that visitors are being taken to another site, again on the advice of a lawyer.
In most cases, Shopify apps and themes can be used on stores that sell CBD. However, some developers may choose to opt-out of allowing this type of usage. It’s always a good idea to check with the developer first.
Some apps, particularly ones that involve payments or shipping, may also not, by design, be usable on a store selling CBD. Again, due diligence is important here.
Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn. While comments and feedback are always appreciated, Michael regrets that, due to the volume of inquires received, personal responses are not possible. For specific assistance or support with Out of the Sandbox themes, visit the help center.