A new strain of strategy has KC Hemp Co. going all in on eCommerce, its owners said, announcing the company has permanently closed its downtown Overland Park retail space — transitioning to online sales and limited same-day delivery.
“We’ve been able to cut over 80 percent of our overhead,” explained Kyle Steppe, who owns KC Hemp Co. alongside his wife, Heather.
The company closed its space at 8124 Floyd St. at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March and quickly saw a 600 percent increase in online sales, as Stay at Home orders began, Kyle Steppe noted.
Click here to read more about KC Hemp Co. and its origin story.
Committed to education surrounding the use of CBD- and cannabis-related products, KC Hemp Co. long used its retail space as a classroom of its own — helping curious customers navigate the ins and outs of the often confounding substances and their health and wellness benefits.
A fast-growing staple in suburban Johnson County, KC Hemp Co. was named Downtown Overland Park’s best new business of 2018. Now as the company — a member of the most recent graduating BetaBlox class — shifts to online-only sales, its educational efforts are expected to also reach new heights, added Heather Steppe.
“One thing we are doing is making sure that we’re putting more educational information out there. We are working on blog posts and corresponding videos. … We’re getting ready to launch a podcast,” she said of what’s to come from KC Hemp Co.
“When you look at our demographic data, the majority of our [customers are aged] 65-plus. Those people really enjoyed face-to-face interactions,” she said, noting the company has taken on a “milkman approach” in the days since it launched purely online sales.
The Steppes now personally deliver orders to customers — many who’ve become loyal to the brand — and answer any questions they can from a safe distance, Heather Steppe explained, noting the company has fully committed to adding enhanced value to its customer experience.
“There’s a handful of customers who are ordering online and don’t realize that we do free, same-day delivery. And so they order and a couple of hours later, we show up on their doorstep and they’re just like, ‘Holy crap, this is awesome,’” she said.
“It’s been a big [benefit] for our customers and [gives us] a way to keep their loyalty.”
Click here to shop KC Hemp Co.
Having found new life in the wake of trying times, the Steppes said they believe other area small businesses will find similar value in abandoning their brick-and-mortar setups.
“Even in corporate settings where people are going into an office everyday and working — now that 90 percent of the country’s been sent home to work and people are realizing they can do it from home, I think you’ll start seeing a lot of that,” said Heather Steppe.
“It ended up being kind of a perfect storm for us,” added Kyle Steppe, noting the transition allowed him and his wife a chance to fully immerse themselves in the business while also homeschooling three of their four children when classrooms across the state abruptly shuttered this spring.
“It was kind of a scary time for them, because all of a sudden they just weren’t in school,” said Heather Steppe, who welcomed a new baby to CBD’s modern family in February. “And kids, when they hear there’s this virus and basically the world is ending, they really think that.”
“Being able to be here with them has been really, really nice. And I know it was a great transition after two years, especially for Kyle, who was spending 40 to 50 hours a week sitting in our store.”
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.