How COVID-19 Spurred a Technological Transformation in the Cannabis Industry

Traditionally, the cannabis industry has been powered by brick-and-mortar retail sales by dispensaries. But since 2020, cannabis is far from stuck in this traditional approach to driving sales and we are beginning to see glimpses of the future of the cannabis industry. In this article, we’ll dig into how the cannabis industry may transform to be predominantly online and how cannabis businesses will adapt to various changes brought on by COVID-19.

Shifting to Local Delivery

2020 has been an extremely trying year and has forced many businesses to shift and adapt to COVID-19. Although these changes have been difficult for many cannabis businesses, it’s also created a major shift in how the cannabis industry conducts itself. In 2020, even a major seed bank like Crop King Seeds had to change their business quite drastically. Prior to COVID-19, Crop King Seeds relied heavily on their physical location in Vancouver where they sold hundreds of cannabis seeds and accessories per day. But when the virus started to impact foot traffic to their store, they began experimenting with local delivery and eventually shifted to the nationwide delivery of their seeds.

They began having employees deliver orders to local customers while taking both online and phonecall orders. This shift in job responsibilities allowed employees to keep their positions and allowed them to safely fulfill orders. They also had setups of “curb-side” pickup where customers would wait in their cars and have their orders walked out to them, contact-free. Although hopefully in the near future we won’t need to worry about contact-free options, the shift to local delivery options is something that I believe will stick around post-COVID-19.

Delivery options have dramatically increased in the COVID-19 era, especially for the cannabis industry which was deemed essential during most pandemic-related lockdowns.

Improving Ecommerce Experience and Worldwide Shipping

As mentioned earlier, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the amount of physical traffic your business will receive. This could potentially destroy businesses that rely solely on foot traffic. Businesses experienced with worldwide shipping, however, are presented with the opportunity to become a leader in the cannabis industry during this period. ILoveGrowingMarijuana, a seed bank based in Amsterdam, has been experimenting with shipping cannabis seeds online worldwide for the past few years, but they’ve really committed to this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shipping cannabis seeds online faces a large number of hurdles and challenges such as laws and regulations in multiple countries, germination guarantees, and shipping processes. That being said, during this time period, Growers Choice made the effort to adapt their shipping process to ensure that customers were receiving their seeds without issue. They began by completely revamping their online website, which in turn made the purchase and payment experience much easier for customers. Additionally, they began identifying logistical issues that were causing slow shipping times and began fulfilling orders in-house which helped to improve order and fulfillment times.

A woman uses her mobile phone to issue a digital payment.

Will These Industry Changes Stick Around After COVID-19?

As the cannabis industry continues to grow in both recreational and medicinal popularity across the world, the industry is going to continue to advance. As mentioned previously, COVID-19 has caused many industries to shift how they conduct business to adapt to health and safety guidelines, and the cannabis industry is no different. So once COVID-19 is under control and the world starts to return to normal, will we see these industry changes toward local delivery and worldwide shipping stick around?

I believe we will. As cannabis becomes legal and more widespread throughout the world, the demand for high-quality and convenient cannabis products is going to continue to climb. This means there will be more customers looking for cannabis businesses that they value and trust.

If the Amazon business model of the past 10-15 years has taught us anything, it’s that customers will repeatedly use a business that provides a convenient value to them, such as the delivery of cannabis products. Although this initiative will force cannabis businesses to shift and adapt, it will also allow them to potentially have a larger client base. There’s a reason the cannabis industry has been named the “Green Rush,” and that’s because it’s a vastly growing market, and any business that can provide additional value to its potential customers will grab a huge chunk of the marketplace.

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