Cannabusiness and the Ecommerce World

Michael Stineman

SVP Client Services

For most of its existence, the fledgling cannabusiness market was based around brick-and-mortar locations like dispensaries and was making great sales. However, like every other industry, COVID-19 forced the cannabis industry to recalibrate and reevaluate, and a major point of that was paying more attention to the potential of ecommerce. For cannabusinesses that are thinking about doubling down in this area moving forward, here are some points to consider.

Bringing the human touch online

Many people reluctant to go online with their cannabis businesses are concerned that they are going to lose the human touch that helps make them successful currently. However, modern technology means it’s a lot easier to bring services like personalized consultations and product recommendations online as well. What many dispensaries will need to do, though, is to make sure that they have the proper UX to make it possible to replicate. If you’re going to do consultations virtually, does your site have the interface to handle this? It’s time to begin treating e-cannabusiness like the rest of e-commerce - bringing core features to the forefront like:

  • Personalization
  • Recommendations
  • Loyalty Programs
  • User Comments
  • Ratings

Platform integration

Making the retail experience less cumbersome is one of the biggest challenges that companies have to deal with in terms of going digital. However, there are some platforms specifically for the cannabis industry that provide a blueprint for moving forward. For example, Jane’s Brand Portal has made a major shift by integrating its dispensary network with brand websites, making it easier for consumers to connect to a local retailer with the product they need. This, in turn, let’s them make a purchase from a local dispensary without leaving a brand website. This indirect to consumer method allows a customer-friendly way to remain in compliance while making sales.  

There are many competing online solutions that need to be considered including: 

Dutchie

I Heart Jane

WheresWeed

Meadow

Finding the right blend of technologies online and in-store will be a differentiator for brands and if done right can provide scalability and flexibility as the regulatory environments continue to shift and also deliver an intuitive, seamless user experience. 

What does this mean for other cannabusinesses thinking about ecommerce? In the future, they may not have to create platforms from scratch to fulfill certain needs. However, they will need to find ways to integrate new platforms into their operations and websites, in some cases.

Regulatory concerns

With this said, there are some very real and practical issues that the cannabis industry has with an ecommerce operation. One of the biggest ones is dealing with payment and banking systems. Federal regulations make it difficult for cannabis companies to partner with banks, and many only operate on a cash-only system. Finding ways to navigate this divide is essential in order to get online operations off the ground. There’s a UX concern for this also. For example, when putting together a cart system, you’ll need added steps to secure transactions and as well as confirm age/identity.

Taking a more online-friendly model means major changes for the cannabis industry, and you don’t want to go into it blind. UX is going to be one of the biggest points of consideration for any online model, and replicating your quality of service digitally can be difficult. To make sure you are starting off on the best foot possible, make sure you bring on a third party like Modus for your UX research. We can help you create a model that retains your clients while opening up a whole set of new ones.

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