Predictions are innately prone to err given reality's propensity to throwing rocks in our forward-moving bicycle spokes. This holds especially true for smoking.
It's tough to shake the sense that when you walk into a garden variety head shop, you're entering an anachronistic time capsule whose scant indicators of our present time rarely span beyond a shelf of shiny new vaporizers and a glassy eyed sales associate with his neck craned in obeisance to a smart phone behind the counter.
Hence the rise of online head shops, places where people don't need to be physically in the presence shelves crowded with generic bongs and gaudy hand pipes. The online smoke shop alleviates feeling overwhelmed with each product succinctly categorized. The bongs online are also presented by themselves with ample negative space to better highlight the product in question.
And though people generally want to pick up and touch things before they make a purchase in a traditional store, consider that pieces in traditional head shops have the potential to be handled by hundreds of people without a proper cleaning. This is enough to make any germaphobe shiver with panic. The online bong shop has conveniently nixed this problem.
Online head shops also offer unique services like offering the opportunity for customers to order a custom pipe unlike anything else ever produced. Sure, from a manufacturing perspective, selling a custom bong that no one else has entails a little more legwork, but, as Entreprenuer.com pointed out about Printabowl, "sophisticated" smokers want something different. And because of the ever-expanding customer base emboldened by quickly changing state policies, Entreprenuer could perhaps be most succinct in asserting a vision of smoking's future.