Should My Dispensary Start an Online Cannabis eCommerce Store?

In recent years, ecommerce stores have become much more popular to buyers of any product. Recently, there has even been an increase in online sales because of COVID-19 and the lockdowns that ensued. Many businesses have adapted to this new way of life, creating online shopping centers to support their storefront sales.  

Cannabis companies are no different, with dispensaries offering online cannabis ecommerce sites. There are some differences in how cannabis ecommerce works, though, that make the starting one a little more difficult.  

What is Cannabis Ecommerce? 

Cannabis ecommerce is an online cannabis store where customers are able to view products and place an order. Ecommerce stores give users the ability to look at different products, compare pricing, and get a full understanding of what they are looking for in their cannabis purchase.  

Online cannabis stores also give businesses the ability to cast a wider customer net. There may be people who don’t want to drive to a dispensary without knowing the product. Having all the information available online gives people the information they need so they know you have what they are looking for.  

Is it Legal to Sell Cannabis Online? 

Yes, it is legal to sell cannabis online, but customers are not allowed to complete the transaction and pay for their orders. Because the Federal Government still sees marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, most credit card companies and banks will not authorize purchases online. Instead, users will place an order for cannabis and pay when they receive it.  

Opening a Cannabis Ecommerce Store 

As it currently stands, cannabis can be sold online. Customers are allowed to place orders online for edibles, flower, and other cannabis products, but there is currently no shipping available from your normal deliver services (UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc.). This is the biggest difference between cannabis ecommerce and ecommerce for other industries. 

There are two options for customers when they order their cannabis online. The first option is to place their order in the ecommerce store and pick it up at the dispensary. While this doesn’t seem like it’s necessary to have an ecommerce store for this, it’s actually very beneficial to the customer. Placing the order online gives the customer time to look through the products without feeling rushed to make a purchase. It also speeds up the time they are at the dispensary because their order is already prepared, which is great for customers who are always on the go.  

The second option is to have the customer place the order online and use a cannabis delivery service to delivery the product. Cannabis delivery services are only in a few select states, so you will need to research and understand if there is opportunity for your dispensary to take part in this. If your state has cannabis delivery services, cannabis ecommerce can be a great benefit to your dispensary.  

What do I Need to Start an Online Cannabis Store? 

First and foremost, you will need a website to start your online cannabis store. If you don’t have this yet, you will want to build one out or hire someone to help you. Your site will also need to be equipped with an ecommerce solution that allows your site to create products online that people can order. Once you have everything that you need set up online, there are a few other tasks you will need to either do yourself or delegate to your employees. 

As your business begins to get orders, you will need someone to monitor these orders and fulfill them when they come through. Make sure you plan ahead for your ecommerce launch, too. This may be expanding your current location to house more product, or just having more product than normal to account for the increased demand.  

While launching an ecommerce platform for your cannabis does require some work, it can pay off in the end if you keep your product up to date and provide great customer service. If you’re looking to expand your current operations but don’t have the financials to make it happen, talk with one of our cannabis lending experts to see how we can help! 

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