Whether or not state regulators let curbside cannabis pickup continue, online ordering is probably here to stay | Green Zone | Spokane | The Pacific Northwest Inlander
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Since the first nationwide shutdown of the coronavirus in March 2020, companies have had to find creative ways to keep their customers happy while staying healthy. For many, the day when mask mandates are no longer required and plexiglass barriers can fall may not come soon enough. But that doesn’t mean that every innovation triggered by a pandemic will be pushed out the door as soon as it is safe to do so.
For Washington’s fledgling cannabis industry, some of the adjustments that companies kept open during the pandemic don’t just persist: They’ll help the industry grow in the future.
“The response to online orders and roadside collection has been very positive and has only grown since March last year,” said Keegan McClung, director of marketing at Cinder, a cannabis retailer with three locations in Spokane. “Cinder’s online sales nearly tripled as people switched from in-store to online shopping at the start of the pandemic.”
As in the restaurant industry, the state’s cannabis retailers have opted for a roadside pickup model. Unlike restaurants, many of which already offered these services, cannabis retailers needed state permission to do so. Roadside pickup was not permitted for recreational retailers in front of Governor Jay Inslee’s statewide shutdown order. Due to the need to practice social distancing, the State Liquor and Cannabis Board quickly enabled roadside pickups from both medical retailers and recreational vendors. However, the board only did so temporarily as long as the COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
From now on the service is still allowed. How long it will take is unclear, however.
“I think the roadside pickup was a huge success. I preferred to shop for my pre-COVID-19 groceries this way,” says McClung. “Sometimes I want a budtender nerd with varieties and products, but I want a take-away experience after a long day at work and want to come home. Allow customers to shop the way they want.” vital to Cinder so I hope the [Liquor and Cannabis Board] allows it to stay. ”
Even if the roadside pickup doesn’t stop, ordering online will certainly do. Retailers have hundreds of products in their stores, and not all of them fit in the showroom-like display cases that customers browse the store. However, online consumers can easily find the exact product they are looking for. Many retailers offer online orders through their own websites, while larger cannabis websites like Weedmaps and Leafly allow customers to browse menus from most of the area’s retailers in one place.
For a beginner who wants to talk to a budtender to find the right product for them, ordering online will never match the personal experience. However, if you’re looking for something in particular, like an ounce of Novo Dias Sour Tangie or a 1 gram preroll of Phat Pandas Romulan, products only available at select retailers, a quick online search will save you from making multiple calls or stopping off City, village.
“Now you can browse our entire store from your couch,” says McClung.
One service that was not opened for cannabis as part of the shutdown order was delivery. Grocery, grocery, and even alcohol delivery services became lifesavers for many during the pandemic. For cannabis, however, consumers had to leave the house – although cannabis companies were seen as essential from day one of Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” plan.
According to research by the Cannabis Business Times, 14 states allow some form of cannabis sale. Washington is not one of them.
“The supply of cannabis is enormous in the states where it is available,” says McClung. “Washington already allows the delivery of alcohol, so that seems like the next step.”
For the time being, delivery is an issue for the future. Retailers must first hope that the Liquor and Cannabis Board will listen to their calls to maintain the roadside pickup once the pandemic restrictions are fully lifted. Even if the board elects to cancel the roadside pickup and stop making deliveries in the future, retailers and consumers can rest assured that online orders, if nothing else, will be positive from the pandemic. ♦