Why Sell Firearms?
Firearms are and always have been an integral part of American Society. According to a leading firearms vendor, 91.2 percent of its firearms sales were to domestic consumers. The remaining 8.8 percent of sales went to local, state or federal law enforcement, or exports. It is evident that a significant portion of the industry's performance is dependent on the civilian market.
Although Firearms are primarily targeted for the purpose of hunting and self-protection, firearms business, especially the online firearms business, is strongly influenced by firearms enthusiasts. Unlike the typical consumer who buys a firearm for hunting/self-protection, firearms enthusiasts are way more specific about what he/she wants. The enthusiasts need an extensive product catalog & product comparison before buying a gun, which a brick and mortar store often fails to deliver. An Online Firearms Store provides everything a firearms enthusiast could hope for from a firearms store. Another added advantage of shopping from an eCommerce store is that the customer need not go from store to store for finding that specific firearm, they are searching.
A whole new spectrum of customers that have come to light is the first-time users who want to have an entertainment experience. The same segment of customers also carries the potential to convert to a firearms enthusiast. Firearms, when used safely & responsibly is, without a doubt, the most appealing piece of machinery out there. As a child, all of us loved playing games where we get to flaunt our toy guns around. Years later, now, as an adult, do I still think that guns are cool? Yes! Absolutely yes! And I can assure you that is how most people feel about guns. If you look at firearms objectively and be honest to yourself, you'll probably have to admit that you like them too.
The Scope Of Firearms In eCommerce
Selling Firearms online is not exactly a cakewalk; in fact, it is one of the hardest things you could choose to sell online. You can't build a firearms eCommerce site on any platform of your choice. Many eCommerce platforms do not allow the sale & transaction of firearms. The leading platforms that are best suited for selling firearms online are WooCommerce, Magento & 3dcart. These platforms offer high customization capability with a wide range of themes.
Virtina Strategized, Designed and Developed a scalable firearms eCommerce store from the ground up. The firearms eCommerce store was built on the updated version of Magento. Virtina used static file - S3 for higher performance with an Amazon Cloud server. The site had utilized Multiple Databases with the capability to update the price & inventory every hour.
One of the best things about selling firearms online is that it is a high-volume business. With 37% of households in the US owning one or more firearms the scope of firearms eCommerce is undeniable. Since firearms eCommerce is still a relatively unexplored field of business, it does present a very promising market. The full potential of the firearms industry can be utilized by targeting a more extensive range of customers. Apart from law enforcement, home protection, hunting, target shooting, or related competitive marksmanship, we should also target the firearms enthusiasts and first-timers. The curiosity factor is one that can not be ignored anymore. People are willing to spend their money on experiences now, more than ever. This segment of customers wants to have entertainment experience, and they open a whole new window to the firearms market.
The brick and mortar stores are failing to keep up with the customer requirements when it comes to providing them with the latest and functionally superior firearms. According to a survey, 29% of firearms customers report having already purchased a firearm online and 58% are willing to consider purchasing one online.
This makes online firearms store the best option for firearms enthusiasts as well as first-timers, looking to have a new experience. They are presented with a plethora of firearms to choose from; they can select the kind of gun they want, and choose the best one for themselves. Having a wide range of products is vital for executing this.
Even if you already have a Brick & Mortar Firearms Store, it is high time that you move your business to an online platform. With the online sales showing a promising market for firearms, this is the right time to get your business online.
Starting a firearms eCommerce store comes with the added advantage that you get to keep your brick and mortar store while still reaping the rewards of having an online store. You can even mix and match your own inventory with drop shipping. It also makes it possible for you to provide your customers with a much larger product catalog, along with customized parts & accessories for their firearms.
Sell Your Firearms Legally!
The following are the points that you need to follow to sell firearms online legally! And I strongly suggest you don't miss a single one of them unless you want to get yourself prosecuted.
Federal Firearms License (FFL) - Don't even start thinking about selling guns unless you've not heard about FFL before. The federal Gun Control Act (GCA) requires that persons who are engaged in the business of dealing in firearms be licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). FFL stops the guns from getting into the wrong hands by running background checks on potential firearms purchasers, and ensure that crime guns can be traced. Under federal law, any person who engages in the business of dealing in firearms must be licensed.
Note: A person who willfully engages in the business of dealing in firearms without the required license is subject to criminal prosecution, and can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, fined up to $250,000, or both.
Federal & State Laws - You need to make sure that you are following federal & state laws. Some states have more strict rules for selling firearms, which may require you to have a state-issued license for conducting your business there. You should also consider the fact that the laws vary from state to state. For example, some manufacturers do not ship to cities like New York, Illinois & even Hawaii. The anti-gun laws in these States are very confusing and can leave you open to a lawsuit.
Applying for a Licence - Applying for a Firearms License is pretty simple. All you have to do is go to the official site and fill out an ATF Form 7. The application fees for the license is currently set as $200 for the initial three years and $90 for each 3-year renewal
To know more about the rules and regulations for selling of firearms you may refer this Click here
Selecting a Distributor/Supplier -You need to make sure that your suppliers are legit. Always keep in mind that dealing firearms is a high-risk business; they need to have the required licenses. FFL is classified on the basis of the types of weapons or types of services you are planning to provide.
The following are the different types of FFL that you need to be aware of
- Type 01 FFL – Dealer in Firearms / Gunsmithing (firearms repair)
- Type 02 FFL – Pawnbroker
- Type 03 FFL – Collector of Curios and Relics
- Type 06 FFL – Manufacturer of Ammunition for Firearms
- Type 07 FFL – Manufacturer of Firearms & Ammunition
- Type 08 FFL – Importer of Firearms/Ammunition
The major firearm suppliers in the US are:
- Sports South
- Bill Hicks
- Davidsons Supply
- Lew Horton Distributing
- Ellett Brothers
The Purchase Process
Source: Garrison Everest Inc
Practical Challenges You Will Face On Your Online Gun Store
Now that we are done with the legal formalities you need to get done before setting up your online firearms store, let's discuss some of the practical challenges that you WILL face on your Online Gun Store.
High-Risk Payment Processor - This is a must! You CAN NOT conduct firearms sales on your eCommerce site without a High-Risk Payment Processor. An industry can be termed as high-risk if there's a lot of legal requirement or fraud potential related to the kind of products being sold. Many payment processors do not allow payments to be processed to high-risk industries. High-Risk Payment Processors are willing to accept the risk involved and provide payment processing for these industries.
Pickup Store/Dealer - Unlike the other eCommerce sites, online firearms stores can not ship directly to the buyer. Instead, you have to deliver it to a firearms store/dealer who has a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Selling firearms online also requires a digital signature from the buyer. The customer can collect the firearm he/she ordered from the FFL dealer, after paying a transfer fee of about $25 to $50.
Virtina made the whole process of tracking the pickup FFL store/dealer simpler for the user to locate the nearest FFL store/dealer by adding a Dealer Locator. This was accomplished by getting the list of FFL dealers from the official site and integrating that data. The Dealer Locator made it possible for the user to type in his/her pin code and the list of FFL dealers would appear on the screen. This enhanced customer experience and simplified the buying process.
Dynamic Product Naming - Firearms eCommerce stores usually have more than one supplier, and each supplier may use different names for the same firearm. For example, one seller may name it as 1,2,3 while the other seller may call it as a,b,c. This could be confusing & misleading to the customer that they could get frustrated (especially first-timers). Try to categorize the product correctly with the right description.
Virtina developed a middleware to tackle the issue of dynamic product naming. The middleware was developed to sync data from various sellers. The data of more than 70000 firearms were pulled from API, excel sheets, etc. The data thus collected were clustered together, and similar products were grouped and given a standard name. This not only made it easier for the user to buy the desired outcome but also made the inventory control easier for the client.
Age Verification - According to federal law, you must be 21 years or older to buy a firearm. This means that you have to make sure that the buyer is of the legal age to make the purchase.
How To Improve Sales on Your Online Gun Store
Categorizing the Firearms – All firearms are broadly classified into three categories: fully automatic, semiautomatic and other. The groupings are based on how the weapon fires and loads bullets into its chamber for the next firing. Further classification such as rifles, pistols, etc. should also be available to make it easier for the user to browse for the product he/she wants.
Product Recommendations – This one sounds pretty simple enough, but so many eCommerce stores get this wrong. Often the site recommends products that have nothing to do with the original product the user adds to cart. When it comes to firearms, make sure that the related products that are shown are either parts or ammo for the firearm that the customer is browsing.
Packaging – The purpose of a package is to protect its contents; when it comes to the eCommerce industry, its purpose is much more significant. It is a marketing tool; it is a way to earn customer loyalty. You could promote your brand by printing the brand logo on the package. Packaging if done right, may even increase your sales.
Variety of Parts – Firearms enthusiasts are always looking for ways to customize & modify their guns. By adding firearm parts such as frames, slides, sights, barrels, stocks and chassis systems, actions, triggers, etc. you could improve your sales at a surprising level.
Create more content – Keep your eCommerce site filled with relevant content. This should include videos (reviews), blogs, tips, news on local or state firearms law. This could increase the traffic to your website and also motivate potential customers into buying your products.
Regular Updation of Price & Inventory - This one is a no brainer. Yet it is the one mistake that eCommerce websites often keep repeating. Make sure that your inventory is always in check and that the price shown on the eCommerce store is precise.
Dropshipping- Dropshipping is the most popular choice when it comes to shipping for your eCommerce store. There are a plethora of reasons why dropshipping is preferred by eCommerce companies. The most prominent among these reasons is that you don't have to keep an inventory. Since there is no inventory, there is no fulfillment obligation, and all you have to do is take orders. You can even mix and match your own inventory with drop shipping. However, wholesale dealers are somewhat apprehensive when it comes to delivering dropshipping unless you can establish yourself as a legit business that is capable of delivering good results.
Like everything else in life, dropshipping comes with its own set of downsides. The most prominent downside is that profit margins are often tiny (10-25%). Another problem with drop shipping is that you have to provide customer support for problems that are out of your hand, as you pretty much have nothing to do with the shipping part.
The information on this website or available in products from this site is not a substitute for the law. You are fully accountable under the exact wording and current interpretations of all applicable laws and regulations when you deal with firearms under any circumstances.
Virtina can help you to increase your revenue, improve profit and enhance customer experience.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is it legal to sell firearms online?
Yes, it is. However, you may want to check the type of firearms you are dealing with, who you are selling the firearms to, where you are located, where you are delivering the consignment along with other restrictions and liabilities that emerge in the online gun trade. Each state in the US has different laws around firearms relative to federal regulations. Ensure that your store is licensed and is only dealing with genuine FFL dealers to ship firearms.
Do merchants need to integrate a high-risk payment processor on their firearms store?
Yes. Selling firearms is a high-risk business, and every merchant would need a high-risk payment processor to accept payments and fulfill orders. Regular payment gateways prohibit any transactions involving firearms on their platform. Fortunately, the eCommerce professionals in Virtina are more than capable of identifying and integrating the most secure, swift, and affordable high-risk payment processor for your firearms store.
Can my buyers access and view the list of their nearest FFL dealers at Checkout?
Yes. The eCommerce experts in Virtina can integrate the functionality to help your consumers view their nearest licensed FFL dealers. The expert developers in Virtina will help your buyers locate the closest FFL dealer using a Zip Code. Once in place, the buyers can determine the nearest FFL dealer and get the firearm delivered to that address for collection and verification.
Can I get my firearms dropshipped to an FFL dealer?
Yes. Merchants can dropship their firearms. However, store owners must comply with the US's respective state laws before considering any dropshipping supplier. Merchants must first establish where these dropshipped firearms are being sold and then confirm where they are getting dropshipped to prevent any legal hassles.
How do I market my online firearms business?
Many popular social media platforms, like Google and Facebook, have prohibited any marketing campaigns or promotional activities around firearms. Thus, firearm merchants would need to rely on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to further their eCommerce brand online. Fortunately, the SEO specialists at Virtina can help your firearms store rank higher in multiple search engines. SEO efforts will improve visibility, increase Click Through Rate (CTR), elevate engagement, and much more.
Do I need a unique and captivating theme for my online firearms business?
Yes, eCommerce store owners must invest in a lightweight, high performing, stunning, and SEO friendly theme for their firearms store. The layout in question should be fully responsive, stylish, multifunctional, have fast loading times, efficient user interface, and be unique enough to impress your visitors. The creative and expert designers in Virtina will help customize a visually appealing storefront for your firearms business.