The BWell Market was founded upon the idea that everyone should have access to quality CBD tinctures and products. But with the market so saturated these days, it's hard to determine what's quality, and who to turn to when making purchasing decisions. To that end, BWell curates a CBD marketplace so that the consumer doesn't need to think twice about whether the products they're perusing are quality — that's because BWell already vetted them as pure, simple, and natural. To that end, Civilized caught up with CEO Solomon Riby-Williams to learn more about how BWell came to be, and where it's headed.
When did you start BWell?
The opportunity for BWell was conceptualized in 2017, but we officially launched nationwide in August. We launched in 2019 due to a few reasons: We were waiting for the Farm Bill [to legalize hemp production in the US] to pass and we were waiting for consistent quality in brands.
Where is BWell based?
We’re based in San Francisco, California.
How did you get the idea to start it?
Well, we might’ve been the ones to launch BWell but it’s really not about us. It is about the community.
CBD has been known to help people in so many ways, each person is different and we want to preserve the true benefits of CBD for the future. The industry is attracting fakers, that don’t care about community. That’s not us.
The idea for BWell has been percolating for years, but three things really kicked us into gear this spring: the increased demand for quality CBD products, the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, and ensuring accessibility for people who enjoy quality CBD products or are curious about trying them out.
Another thing we noticed was that the majority of CBD products available to Americans consisted of single-brand online stores and we wanted to change that. We’ve put the purchasing power into the consumers’ hands by launching a multi-brand marketplace.
We understand that credibility is a must with unestablished brands in young markets. Customer reviews become critical with the ability to compare multiple products. Lastly, our goal is to keep things exciting for the customer by consistently providing new offerings. We’re putting pressure on the brands to consistently put out premium quality products and to innovate on products that already exist.
What is the greatest challenge facing consumers in the marketplace?
There are two challenges. First, the shift of brick-and-mortar to online retail. Other industries like home goods, clothing, groceries, books, you name it, have a seamless, internet-friendly ordering and delivery process through big ecommerce sites like Etsy, Shopify and Amazon.
In turn, CBD products were really only sold at specialty shops, often in locations that were hard to find or tucked away in corners of tourist shops. We see BWell as the solution to this challenge by creating a cohesive place for America’s favorite CBD brands and allowing for home delivery in all 50 states. We literally ship product right to your preferred location.
Secondly, CBD can be a little bit daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! We’re utilizing our CBD Resource blog to educate the consumer. Again, we want the consumer to have a full arsenal of knowledge and options. For example, you can find content pieces like a *fact checked* CBD Oil Benefits Guide and a recommended dosage guide.
What are the benefits of a curated marketplace?
A curated marketplace is extremely important, especially in this day and age when there is so much choice (and crappy product out there) and consumers place so much trust in the brands they’re loyal to. Through a curated marketplace, our customers know we’ve vetted the product and that they’re getting a quality product when they shop with us.
Also, community is everything and variety is the spice of life.
How do you curate BWell? What values or standards do you uphold when choosing which brands to feature?
There are a couple of things we check, double check, and triple check.
- Consumer reviews from other sources. Before launching we scoured the internet analyzing and compiling reviews from more than 50 brands. Analyzing first-hand testimonials was a requirement because there is no stronger information than first-hand consumer reviews.
- Visiting the facility and meeting the team. We had to do this! We only do business with someone we’d feel comfortable inviting over for dinner to our home. Also, ensuring that facilities were up to par and in line with local regulations is a must.
- Lab results. Every batch of product received at our fulfilment center must be tested. We work with Shipbob, who are pros in the warehousing, shipping, and fulfillment space. It’s very important to us that orders are shipped in a timely fashion and delivered quickly as a large portion of our community uses CBD products for their therapeutic effects.
What are your most popular product offerings?
It honestly really depends on the consumer’s needs, but if you were to classify “most popular” as “top selling” then it would definitely be our Full Spectrum oils, specifically the nighttime option and the CBD mango gummies.
What has been the biggest challenge being in this sector of the cannabis industry?
Honestly, we’ve found that there are a wackload of people out there creating brands to make a quick buck. They don’t care much about the industry.
Since cannabis, hemp and CBD have been around for decades, it has been a learning experience to weave together a traditional industry with a modern industry through ecommerce in order to provide the best experience.
Another element we often bump up against is the conversation between hemp, marijuana and CBD and dispelling the public’s common perception of CBD as having similar psychoactive properties to marijuana when it does not. That is why we are lucky to have such a great research and content team. Education is power.
Who is your main consumer demographic?
We’re focusing on products that can be a part of an everyday wellness and lifestyle routine with a focus on consumers of all ages. Self care is very important.
What are your hopes for the future of BWell?
Our goal is to continue to provide access to the best CBD brands for folks across the US to have a happy and healthy life, and be at the forefront of the evolving CBD industry both in the USA and in new markets.