At Natural Ways CBD, we’re dedicated to providing high-quality hemp-derived cannabinoid products and hemp education. Our aim is to help people achieve a better quality of life while reducing their reliance on prescription drugs – we believe wellness should be closer to the earth, and we strive to make our actions fit that belief.
But part of making sure you get the best is talking about the competition. We’re far from the only option out there when it comes to CBD companies. There are thousands of CBD companies in the United States, many of them very reputable.
Today, we’ll be looking at CBD American Shaman, one of our biggest competitors, and showing you how they compare to us on all the important dimensions.
About CBD American Shaman
CBD American Shaman is a national CBD franchise with over 300 stores located all throughout the US. They have a handful of locations in the Houston, Texas area, where our six brick-and-mortar stores are located.
Like us, CBD American Shaman also has an e-commerce store that allows people to buy their CBD online and have it delivered directly to their doorstep.
According to their website, CBD American Shaman is “dedicated to bringing wellness to the world through ultra-concentrated terpene rich CBD oil derived from all natural, high quality industrial hemp.”
Because several of CBD American Shaman’s stores share geographic territory with ours, they are one of our most visible competitors, especially to our in-person customers – that’s why we wanted to break down the differences between what their company and ours has to offer.
At a Glance: Natural Ways CBD vs. CBD American Shaman
If you just want to see a summary, we’ve put the most important comparisons into tables below:
Pricing: Cost Per MG of CBD by Product Type
Store Presence, Selection, and Lab Testing
*Only through the Compassionate Care Program; no separate discount for veterans
Comparison Criteria: What We Accounted For
Since CBD American Shaman is a business competitor of ours and we’re the ones writing this comparison, we’ve taken special care to ensure everything in this article is as objective as possible.
To help with this, we’re going to establish clear criteria on which to compare ourselves to CBD American Shaman:
- Product selection, quality, and pricing – On the selection side, the range of cannabinoids, product types, and brands carried by each business, both in-store and online. On the quality side, 3rd-party lab testing procedures and any special technology used to make products. On the pricing side, the cost per mg of CBD for different product types.
- Customer education and customer service – The measures taken to educate customers about the hemp plant.
- Employee education – The measures taken by each business to ensure all store employees are educated such that they can help customers.
- Business model and size & implications for the customer – The size of each business, and what that means for the customer experience.
- Customer reviews and reputation – Customer reviews of each business, as well as the reputation of each business.
- Recognitions and certifications – Awards and certifications earned by each business.
We’re also following two rules to ensure the information we’re basing these comparisons on is fair:
- All statements about both brands are based on publicly available information; the exception being internal procedures we use which we’re willing to share, and are therefore being made public
- No criteria will be discussed unless an example of how both companies perform is given – in other words, we can’t cherry pick which criteria to measure our business on and which to measure CBD American Shaman on
We’ll start with the most important comparisons first: those related to products. In this section, we’ll look at the selection of CBD and other cannabinoid products that each company has to offer in their brick-and-mortar and online stores.
CBD American Shaman’s Online Selection
CBD American Shaman is a franchise, and some franchises have set up their own websites. Some offer products, others have pages with affiliate links to buy from the main online store.
On these single-location sites, product selection varies (as it would; different business owners will prioritize different products), so we’ll just look at the products on the main CBD American Shaman site.
On their online store, CBD American Shaman carries a wide variety of house-brand products, including tinctures, gummies, water solubles, smokables, gel capsules, honey sticks, candy, pet products, and more.
Cannabinoids that CBD American Shaman offers include CBD, CBG, CBN, HHC, and delta 9 THC. We were unable to locate any products with CBC or delta 8 THC.
CBD American Shaman’s In-Store Selection
According to their website, CBD American Shaman has more than 300 locations throughout the US. However, you’ll get a slightly different experience at each one.
Most franchises are required to carry an inventory that is 90% the house brand (the company’s brand; either products they make or products they have white labeled), and then 10% products chosen by the franchise.
This is because house brand products are purchased through CBD American Shaman’s manufacturing company, thereby increasing the amount of money the parent company makes.
The variation in the other 10% of products provides an element of surprise, which can be fun. But it may also mean that you won’t know for sure whether a particular store has the products you need.
Natural Ways CBD’s Online Selection
We are not a franchise; all six stores are family owned and offer the same products.
Our online store offers most of our in-store selection, minus a few products (some products are more difficult to sell online, such as vapes and hemp flower).
Online, we carry oils (tinctures), edibles (gummies, candies, etc.), softgel capsules, regular capsules, topicals, drinks, shatter, bath and beauty products, pet treats, and pet oils.
On the cannabinoid side, we offer CBD, CBG, CBN, HHC, delta 8 THC, delta 9 THC, and CBC products. A good portion of our selection is our house brand, although we also carry many products from other companies.
Natural Ways CBD’s In-Store Selection
In-store, we carry everything we sell online, plus a lot more. As with our online store, a portion of our in-store selection comes from other brands, including 3Chi, Happy Fruit, Mellow Fellow, and others.
We carry other brands because we want to give our customers access to more options than we can provide on our own, while still giving them the confidence that what they’re buying is being held to the same strict standards as our house product line.
Our priority is helping people, not just extracting the most profit possible. This ethos applies to everything we do, but especially our product selection.
Our thought is this: when you go into a grocery store, do you want a wide selection of chips, or do you just want Doritos?
Obviously, the more choices, the better – that’s why we don’t shy away from carrying other brands, even if it means smaller margins.
Our Organic Hemp Flower Bar
One in-store feature that sets us apart from other CBD stores is our flower bar, where customers can buy fresh organic hemp flower. We offer both loose flower and pre-packaged prerolls.
CBD American Shaman sells flower, too, but it’s pre-jarred. This type of flower works in a pinch, but it’s often older and drier because it has to be jarred and sit on a shelf for days or weeks until it gets bought.
Since we’re able to keep fresher flower on our shelves, ours will have a better aroma and be more potent.
However, it’s all good quality. Flower sold by our store, as well as by CBD American Shaman, is 3rd-party lab tested and grown on small farms, so we both offer several measures of quality assurance.
Selection is one thing, quality is another. How do we stack up to CBD American Shaman in this dimension? We’ll look at the sourcing and lab testing practices of each company, as well as any special technologies used by each company to make better products.
Sourcing, Lab Reports, and Product Efficacy
Both us and CBD American Shaman make our products from high-quality hemp plants sourced within the United States. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by dry weight.
This distinction is purely legal; the cannabinoids in hemp are not chemically different from cannabinoids in marijuana, the variety of cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC.
Both companies are committed to supplying their customers with pure extracts, free of contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals. To verify the quality of each batch, both CBD American Shaman and Natural Ways CBD send their products to be tested by a 3rd-party lab.
Nanotechnology allows CBD to be broken down into very small particles before infusing it into products, increasing the body’s absorption rate of the CBD, and therefore the benefits they get from using products.
Nanotech is a keystone of CBD American Shaman’s product manufacturing process.
CBD American Shaman claims that due to their nanotechnology, their CBD is absorbed 10 times as quickly as other CBD oils. However, they do not reference any scientific evidence to substantiate these claims.
Furthermore, despite CBD American Shaman claiming that their nanotech is proprietary, or possessed exclusively by them, nanotech is a mainstay in products carried by many other brands and is used in several of our products, as well.
CBD American Shaman’s Lab Report Controversies
Given that we’re discussing product quality, it’s necessary to cover any concerns that reputable sources have had about the quality offered by each company.
Despite CBD American Shaman’s commitment to safe products, a class action lawsuit filed in 2020 alleged that a variety of CBD American Shaman products contained heavy metals, including copper, nickel, and lead.
There’s a lot to the lawsuit, but essentially, a customer bought products from CBD American Shaman, tested them independently, and learned that they contained contaminants.
Additionally, a 3rd-party review on the website of CBD media company Leafreport detailed another problematic experience with lab reports.
The reviewer purchased products online from CBD American Shaman and requested lab reports for that batch of products, but could not get them for over a month because they weren’t available. The reviewer noted, “it appears that American Shaman is not testing their products before sending them to their customers.”
In the interest of fairness, we conducted online searches for any such stories from our customers or 3rd-party reviewers, but could not find anything negative, despite having served thousands of customers since 2019.
You can’t always trust what companies say, and this goes for CBD American Shaman. We make every effort to be transparent and straightforward, but this also goes for us – do your own investigation!
Check the company’s reputation – are there articles online detailing negative or suspicious buying experiences? Are there lawsuits of this nature?
Ask these questions before you buy anything!
How Natural Ways CBD Makes and Chooses Products
While not a comparative section, we wanted to talk a bit about how we ensure the products we make and carry are the highest quality – potent and safe to use.
While the exact process varies depending on the situation, we employ three major frameworks to ensure product quality:
Framework 1: We Prioritize Natural Ingredients
CBD oils are the bread and butter of hemp products – they are the purest, easiest-to-dose form of CBD you can take.
We believe that CBD oil needs to be as natural as possible. We don’t add sweeteners (especially not artificial sweeteners) to our products, and we don’t add fake flavorings, either.
Our CBD oils are composed of carrier oil, cannabinoids, and terpenes. The exact blend of cannabinoids we use varies by product – we adjust it to give the tincture an indica (soothing), sativa (energizing), or hybrid (a mix of the two) quality.
To be absorbed by your body, CBD needs to be paired with a healthy fat. We choose either all-natural MCT oil or hemp seed oil as the carrier.
While in some cases, artificial colors and flavors are a necessary evil (e.g. gummies), we try to apply a minimalist, nature-first philosophy wherever we can.
And of course, every product, whether or not we make it, is 3rd-party lab tested to ensure it’s as potent as we intend it to be and that it contains no contaminants.
Framework 2: We Test Products Internally
Lab testing and careful formulation go a long way, but in our experience, the only true way to know if a product is good is if we see it work for real people.
We personally test all the products we carry. Our owners try it. Our employees try it. We all make sure that the products we carry are actually effective – we want to be able to stand behind our selection, but more importantly, we want our products to help you live better.
These informal tests are especially important when we’re considering whether or not to carry another company’s product(s) – we need to verify that it does what they say it does, even if everything looks good on paper.
Framework 3: We Investigate Facilities and Companies
Whenever we’re considering new products from other companies, or working with new suppliers, we perform two main types of investigation:
- On-site investigation – Touring the manufacturing facilities (if possible). This means you won’t buy something from us that was made in someone’s garage.
- Online investigation – We do a little bit of internet sleuthing. We read reviews from the company’s customers on their website and 3rd party sites. We make sure that others find value in the products and that they work.
Summary: How We Choose the Best Products
It’s simple: by staying obsessed with making and carrying the best hemp products, we make sure that everything in our store is not only devoid of contaminants, but also works amazingly.
Next, we’re going to take a look at cost – one of the most important factors to consider when buying anything.
Below is a table comparing the cost per milligram (mg) of cannabinoids (CBD, THC, CBG, etc. ) in our products versus CBD American Shaman’s.
This information only applies to our house brands – other brands carried by us and by various CBD American Shaman franchises will vary in cost.
Customer Education & Customer Service
When it comes to how each company treats customers, an objective comparison is difficult to make since it’s hard to quantify the soft skills that go into educating and helping customers.
However, we’ll discuss specific efforts that both us and CBD American Shaman make in this area – both online and in-store.
What Makes Great Online Customer Education & Customer Service?
When it comes to providing customer education and customer service online, there are three main things companies need to do.
- Provide answers to common questions via a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
- Provide an easy way for customers to contact the company with any questions or concerns
- Provide a source of information about CBD, cannabinoids, and how to use them in everyday life
Online Education & Customer Service
Educating people about the benefits of the hemp plant is a major priority of ours, along with providing the biggest selection of the best quality products.
Both us and CBD American Shaman provide in-depth FAQ pages online that provide answers to the most common CBD-related questions, and we both have pages where customers can easily call or email customer support.
We also write a blog, where we have nearly 100 articles on CBD and other cannabinoids that cover almost everything our customers need to know to live better with hemp products. New, comprehensive articles are published weekly, and older pieces are refreshed weekly so they contain the most up-to-date information available.
Each article is based first on published scientific research, then on anecdotal evidence from the thousands of customer stories we’ve had the pleasure of hearing over the past five years in business.
CBD American Shaman also has a blog that provides information about hemp. However, based on what we could find, they haven’t published an article since May 3rd, 2022.
In-Store Customer Education & Customer Service
In-store customer service goes far beyond just providing good-quality information – there also needs to be a trained store associate on hand.
A trained CBD store associate should be:
- Knowledgeable about all types of hemp
- Able to point customers toward the right product for their needs
- Able to answer any questions customers might have
We have trained associates at all of our stores (more on this in the next section).
Upon coming through the door, our customers can have a conversation with our associate, who can assess their needs and help them find the right product. Customers can also just browse, asking questions as they need.
Although we cannot attest to the general quality of CBD American Shaman’s in-store customer service, we do know that CBD American Shaman gives franchisees access to resources on customer service and education. It is unknown how much of this is passed on to the employees that the franchisees hire, though.
Employee education directly impacts the customer experience. If an employee doesn’t have a thorough knowledge of hemp, and of how various cannabinoids can address certain problems, they can’t point you toward the product that will most help you.
When our employees are hired, they go through a training program that teaches them what they need to know about hemp so they can help our customers.
And as new research about hemp becomes available from the scientific community, our employees are informed so they’re prepared to answer questions and offer educated advice.
However, the most important framework our employees follow is to educate, not sell. We don’t attempt to sell anybody on our products, instead, we discuss the potential benefits that a product might have in that person’s situation – if the person understands the benefits and decides the product is right for them, they buy.
Doing this ensures that every time one of our employees interacts with a customer, they do so in the customer’s interest.
CBD American Shaman mentions on their franchising website that franchisees “will have the on-going support of our Chief Medical Officer to assist and educate [them].”
Various other sections on their webpage mention that franchisees will receive training and information around daily operations, marketing, sales, business functions, forms, and customer experience, but nothing else specifically mentions hemp education.
This is just the franchisees; we have no knowledge of how the employees hired by the franchisees are trained.
Because the only information we could find was vague, we cannot say for sure to what degree store associates behind the counters at CBD American Shaman are educated on hemp and its benefits for you.
Small Business vs. National Chain: Which is Better for Customers?
One of the obvious differences between us and CBD American Shaman is size: they have over 300 brick-and-mortar locations throughout the nation, whereas we have just 6, all in the same state.
There are inherent advantages and disadvantages of being big, and of being small. In this section, we’re going to discuss them, and talk about what they mean for you.
Why a Small Business is Better for Customers
All six of our stores are 100% owned by our company, so we have absolute discretion over the products we do and do not carry. As a result, we’re able to offer a wide selection of products throughout all six of our stores and online, and it’s consistent across each store.
Since we do not operate on multiple levels (with the stores paying part of their profits to a parent company), our products are cheaper per mg of cannabinoids than CBD American Shaman’s. Since franchisees have to pay CBD American Shaman a monthly fee, they are forced to raise prices in their stores to ensure they’re making a large enough profit margin.
All employees report to the same leadership, so there’s greater assurance that all employees are educated and well-versed in customer service, making for a better customer experience. Additionally, employee complaints are able to be addressed more quickly – if we’re more satisfied at our jobs, we give our customers a more satisfying experience, too.
Some CBD American Shaman employees report terrible work experiences, while others report great ones.
Why a National Chain is Better for Customers
Since CBD American Shaman has over 300 stores across 30+ states in the U.S., they can deliver the in-store experience and in-person attention to many, many more people than we can (although, via our website, we offer the same quality, and much of the same education, nationwide).
Larger CBD companies like CBD American Shaman have a larger customer base and more capital, so their house brand is more extensive than ours, and they control a greater percentage of their manufacturing than we do.
Theoretically, this means they have more quality control, but as you’ve read, more control doesn’t always mean better quality.
Comparison of Reputation: What Do Customers Say?
If a company provides good products and good customer service, their reputation will reflect that.
So in addition to diving deep into each company’s practices, we’ll also look at what customers and other 3rd parties think of us and CBD American Shaman.
We’ll be looking at two things: reviews from customers, as well as reviews in major publications like Forbes and niche media sites such as CBDOracle.
For brick-and-mortar stores, Google reviews are a key reputation signal, as they’re the first thing local customers see when they look up a store on Google.
When it comes to Google reviews and those on sites like Trustindex, Natural Ways CBD and the CBD American Shaman stores in our area are pretty much neck-and-neck.
If you look at all of our locations versus 6 CBD American Shaman locations in Houston, TX, you’ll find that the reviews are, by and large, roughly the same on Google.
Reviews from credible 3rd parties also matter, to an extent.
CBD American Shaman has a profile on the Better Business Bureau but is not accredited due to negative reviews and other reasons. We do not have a Better Business Bureau profile.
Publications and websites such as Forbes and CBDOracle have published reviews on CBD American Shaman. Forbes’ review (linked here), advises customers to be cautious due to unverified claims on CBD American Shaman’s website, as well as other controversies involving misleading marketing.
CBDOracle’s review (linked here) writes favorably of CBD American Shaman’s products, especially their drinks. The CBDOracle writer gives the products 8.2/10, while the readers give them 7.2/10 from 33 votes.
No major 3rd party companies have reviewed our products.
As we’ve mentioned before, CBD American Shaman has been involved in a series of controversies, including a lawsuit over the presence of heavy metals in their products. Here are a few other things to be aware of:
- CBD American Shaman has set up websites designed to mislead customers into thinking they were a competitor and has attempted to steal trademarks from competitors such as Sunmed and PureLeaf.
- CBD American Shaman was sued by a company for failing to pay marketing bills (case info here).
Natural Ways CBD vs. CBD American Shaman: Which Recognitions Matter?
When picking a CBD company, do recognition or awards from 3rd-party organizations matter?
Yes and no. Many recognitions can be bought, or can be “earned” by knowing the right people. But recognitions that companies earn through customer support, rather than clever public relations moves, do matter.
Natural Ways CBD won 1st place at the Texas Hemp Awards for Best Brick and Mortar Store in 2021, and we won 1st place again 2022 for Best Brick and Mortar Store, as well as 1st place for Best Processor/Manufacturer/Extractor.
We didn’t win this because we have friends in high places – we won it because our customers liked our store. The Texas Hemp Awards operate based on a voting system (each person can only vote once), and our customers cast more votes for us than other companies’ customers did. We even ran against several CBD American Shaman stores.
CBD American Shaman has a notable recognition, too – they are a member of the US Hemp Authority Council. However, the US Hemp Authority Council doesn’t guarantee the quality or efficacy of a company’s products, nor is it a governmentally-regulated organization.
Being part of the USHA requires companies to pay thousands of dollars – it’s a pay-to-play system that favors larger companies. It serves as a credibility symbol to get people to purchase, but it doesn’t guarantee quality.
Takeaway: How to Choose Between Natural Ways CBD and CBD American Shaman
The point of this article isn’t to convince you that we’re better than CBD American Shaman, but rather to give you the information you need to make an educated purchasing decision.
CBD American Shaman is much bigger than we are and has been in business longer. This gives them many advantages in how they serve people. But we also believe that as a small business, we offer a unique set of benefits to our customers, such as lower prices and more flexibility to carry the products we want.
Overall, who you choose depends on what you’re looking for in a company. Look at the information, but ultimately, choose the company that you feel better doing business with!