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Buying E-cig Cartridges Online VS Offline at Retail Stores

By Raymond Polidori

Tuesday November 5, 2013
Even if you bought your e-cig from a retail store you are still better off buying your e-cig refills online

Buying E-cig Cartridges Online VS Offline at Retail Stores


For a new e-cigarette user, choosing between buying e-cigarette refill cartridges online or offline can be a tough decision. Why buy your e-cigarette cartridges online, when you can take a 2-minute drive or even walk to your local gas station or convenience store?

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Buying e-cigarette cartridges or e-liquid online is ultimately the best choice. Here’s why:

Retail Store E-cig Liquid and Cartridges

When a visitor walks into a tobacco shop and sees an e-cigarette for the first time, they go through a phase of “oooh-ing and ahhh-ing,” Lacking any prior knowledge of e-cigarettes, they are inclined to buy one just to satisfy their curiosity. So, they buy an e-cigarette.

Well, what happens when they use up their initial few e cigarette cartridges that came with the starter kit or express kit? Inevitably, they will need re-fills. Almost just as inevitable is the instinct to return back to the retail store where they bought their e-cigarette. But wait! There are a few things that they, and you, might not have thought of yet and that is where I come in to point them out. Below are the pros and cons of buying e-cigs from retail stores.


  • For the most part, cartridges are on demand. Walk in – Walk out
  • No financial information is disclosed, you can pay in cash
  • No waiting on “snail” mail
  • Depending on where you live, try before you buy


  • Outdated e-juice, or cartridges
  • May not carry a wide range of flavors
  • Limited supply; could be in stock one day, and out of stock the next.
  • Outdated product hardware
  • No discounts
  • Poor return policy
  • No customer service
  • Lack of brand accessories
  • Requires gas – those trips will add up!

People aren’t snatching up e-cigarettes everywhere like hot cakes. No, not quite yet. The result is that these e-cigarettes will sit there on their shelf for a very long period of time – most of their recommended life span will be taken up on that shelf, gathering dust.

Unless you live in a very popular city in which your brand is heavily rooted, chances are that you aren’t getting the freshest batch of cartridges or the newest batch of ecig liquid (e-liquid). This is vital to your e-cigarette experience. Some distributors don’t care about the required storage conditions that keep e-liquid in tiptop shape. Instead, they’ll just place their stock wherever they think it fits best (i.e. wherever most comfortable for them). If your e-liquid at your local tobacco shop is sitting on a shelf, it’s already not placed in proper storage conditions. I’m not saying it’s going to be complete and utter crap. I’m just voicing my concern that there are certain conditions that can prolong the life of e-liquid, and that those conditions are often not met in retail shops. *stepping off my soap box now*

Buying E-Cigarette Liquid and Cartridges Online – Your best option.

Shopping for e-cigs online opens doors for you that offline retail locations can’t. With a click of a mouse, your range of e-cigarettes multiplies exponentially. Let’s get the pros and cons out of the way…


  • Allows you to research more e-cig brands
  • Allows you to read customer reviews
  • Money Back Guarantee (make sure to read the fine print, as always)
  • Live customer service via chat/phone/e-mail/forums
  • Full line of e-cigarette products
  • Complete flavor lineup – no restrictions
  • Freshest batch of e-cigarette cartridges and e-liquid
  • Up-to-date e-cig hardware
  • Deep discounts, sales, coupons, holiday promotions
  • Loyalty programs (gain points get free cartridges)
  • Recycling programs (recycle and get free ecig cartridges)
  • Auto-refill options, where product is automatically shipped to you monthly


  • Must use a credit/debit card. This shouldn’t be an issue (have you ever bought from Amazon?). Just make sure they use an SSL-encrypted shopping cart. Problem solved.
  • Snail mail. This is easily prevented or minimized. Example: Use a coupon code, and place the money saved for faster shipping 🙂 Some brands also offer free express shipping for larger orders.
  • E-cig scams – Not much of an issue if you know what to look for. Read: E-Cigarette Trial Scams

Online e-cig stores have more visitors and thus their inventory is always being refreshed/re-stocked. They have a high turnover rate, which keeps product moving in and out constantly and consistently. Unlike retail stores, they never let them sit on shelves for months. Ultimately, the best option if you weigh out the two, is buying online. Being able to review an e-cigarette, scour the web to find more brands, and then compare, is priceless. Doing this will save you loads of money. When you shop retail, you won’t get the discounts and deals that you’ll find online either. There is a lot to be said for the convenience that shopping for your e-cigs online brings, and it really comes down to who is comfortable with what.

One thing is for sure: some of the most popular e-cigarettes in the industry, the highest quality ones, are located on the internet and they don’t have any immediate plans to go elsewhere… such as retail. Do yourself a favor; don’t settle for less when there’s better out there. The tobacco shops and gas stations aren’t trying to make your smoking habit a pleasure to quit. They’re trying to sell a product and that’s where it begins and ends.

We wish you the best of luck,


Disclaimer: This blog relates to gas station ecigs and stores that don’t show obvious expertise in the ecig/vaping niche. 🙂



Disclosure: We may receive a commission for purchases made by consumers after clicking through one of the links on this website.

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