With a market cap just over $900 billion, Amazon is the largest company in the world. It got there by capitalizing on society’s ever-increasing reliance on e-commerce, delivering products faster and more conveniently than physical retailers.
Over the last two decades, nearly every facet of the retail sector has been transformed by the web. Companies are now de facto expected to complement brick and mortar establishments with a sleek and easy-to-use online component.
But one subsector that’s still only beginning to transition online is cannabis, as most cannabis companies are still struggling to reconcile newly legal product lines with strict government regulations. In Canada, where it was legalized last year, only two of the country’s ten provinces—Saskatchewan and Manitoba—permit the sale of cannabis on non-government-operated websites.
Even marketing the products can present a whole new set of challenges, as cannabis companies cannot run ad campaigns on digital giants like Google or Facebook.
These Restrictions Won’t Stop the Inevitable
Since legalization, companies in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba have seen enormous demand for cannabis ordered online.
It makes sense when you think about it—if you were at home and wanted to order weed, would you rather get dressed, trudge your way down the store, wait in line, and potentially have to talk to strangers to place an order, or would you rather get your re-up with the click of a button?
Despite the regulations, the marketing restrictions, and the complexity, any retail cannabis company that’s not establishing itself online is quickly making itself obsolete. Convenience will be the determining factor in cannabis consumer preferences, and nothing is more convenient than the Amazon model.
However, because major online services like PayPal, MailChimp, Wix, and Shopify are electing to steer clear of the cannabis industry, companies will have to look to cannabis-centric solutions to gain a foothold online.
Enter CBD and Cannabis Marketplaces
Luckily, some companies offer e-commerce services specifically designed to empower cannabis firms. CannaOne Technologies Inc. is a sort of Shopify for the cannabis sector. CannaOne’s flagship product, Bloomkit, is a turnkey enterprise software solution that delivers everything a cannabis company needs to retail online. Unlike other e-commerce platforms currently targetting cannabis, CannaOne’s Bloom Product Suite employs artificial intelligence to gather structured data from purchases. This allows the platform to fulfil orders and recommend products to shoppers.
CannaOne’s first marketplace created through Bloomkit is BWell Market, which connects consumers in the US who are looking for CBD products with CBD retailers. BWell has more than 11,000 members who can take their pick of over 100 products.
There’s also Green Marimba. Based in Colorado, Green Marimba can host dispensary websites, manage inventories, and help establish customer bases with email campaigns and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. It also helps cannabis companies improve existing websites, upgrading professionality from pre-legalization bargain-bin web domains to sleek and fully compliant online storefronts.
Using a regulatory compliance system called Metrc Integration, Green Marimba helps businesses navigate various cannabis laws so that retailers can focus on sales. The company also has a team of attorneys with legalization experience on hand as a kind of call-support for dispensaries.
To enable cheaper, faster, and higher-quality B2B transactions in the sector, LeafLink serves as a wholesale marketplace for companies in the cannabis industry. In addition to making easy, bulk orders online, retailers can manage inventories, request samples, and take advantage of CRM services all in one place.
LeakLink is backed by Canopy Rivers, the investment firm offshoot of cannabis giant Canopy Growth Inc. Between thousands of cannabis brands and retailers, LeakLink recently passed $1 billion in annualized orders, which represents approximately 16 percent of all wholesale cannabis orders in the US.
Cannabis and e-commerce are two of the most dominant innovations in retail right now. As more and more states liberalize their cannabis laws, users are projected to spend more than $66 billion on cannabis products in the US alone. Much of that will be done online. Cannabis companies need to make use of the resources available to them in order to stay relevant and to capture an important and lucrative corner of this growing market.