Cannabis retail stores, among other essential businesses, were allowed to remain open and had to quickly adopt social-distancing, reduced customer footprints and other in-store protective measures. In some provinces, brick-and-mortar stores were allowed to accept click-and-collect orders online with curbside pickup and home delivery.
With the new available options of customer interaction and sales channels, legal cannabis retailers discovered the power of reaching customers through their preferred access points, whether it’s shopping in stores or online; and providing convenient delivery or curbside pickup options.
Commenting on the evolving cannabis industry, Ross Lipson Cofounder and CEO of Dutchie said: “The cannabis space is extremely fast moving, and can change on a dime. It’s important to be agile and adapt to the space as it changes. The game is long and we are only in the first inning. We have to make sure that we provide long term value to customers that will stand the test of time!”
The “Future of Cannabis in Canada Report,” produced by Valens and Resonance Consultancy, studied the most important factors driving the overall cannabis purchase experience and found that: “Having a convenient/easy shopping experience is clearly the #1 driver (31%), followed by having enough product available (17%).”
A large part of making the process more convenient for consumers is to allow them to make their purchases easily, using their preferred payment method and form factor. Merrco has worked closely with cannabis retailers to keep them up and running under evolving conditions, finding the payment solutions that best suit each retailer’s needs.
As merchants went from traditional chip-and-PIN payment terminal transactions in the store to card-not-present transactions online, Merrco worked with digital menu and online ordering partners to offer customers a convenient shopping experience with curbside pickup and delivery (where provincial laws allow). Customers could now use a website or an app to see what inventory is available at different cannabis retailers, place an order and then go pick it up or have it delivered.
Despite the pandemic, cannabis sales have not suffered as they have in other business sectors, buoyed by the innovative ways that government and cannabis businesses responded to the situation. Alberta, for example, saw an increase in cannabis sales since the pandemic began. While Ontario, with its much larger population, recorded higher sales in the first four months of 2020, Alberta recorded the highest sales in the country, in April and May of 2020.
Commenting on the industry growth, Albert Kim, CEO Greenline POS said, “While Greenline POS has seen incredible growth in both the industry and our business in the past two years, I truly feel that we’re just getting started. Most provinces outside of Alberta have very low cannabis retail store densities, and business relationships could be taken to the next level with potential direct-to-retailer sales in places like BC. Consumers are continuously warming up to legal products after two years of transitioning off the gray market, and that shows in the cannabis retail sales numbers from Statistics Canada.”
The Future Looks Bright
The cannabis business sector seems to have come out stronger after facing huge challenges. Some estimates from an Arcview Market Research report on the cannabis market in North America, predict that the total Canadian cannabis market, including medical and recreational cannabis products, will generate up to $7 billion in sales by the end of 2020, with $2 to $4 billion in the legal recreational market alone.
“It’s still early-days for cannabis, and there’s plenty of opportunity for the right products and teams to become industry main-stays. Existing operators should do their best to give innovators a chance to enter the space and make a positive impact,” said Ryan Lalonde CEO and founder of Buddi.
As the Canadian cannabis industry changes, Merrco will evolve and continue to innovate along with it. Merrco has curated a unique, highly valuable ecosystem of technology partners to offer merchants payment solutions that integrate with the leading technology solutions across the cannabis sector.
About Merrco Payments Inc.
Merrco is a payment processing provider founded in 2016 that develops and delivers technology, financial services and payment solutions to merchant customers to enable them to accept credit, debit and alternative payments online and at the point of sale. Merrco is the only payments company delivering innovative payment solutions like retail, ecommerce, click and collect and gift cards tailored to the cannabis industry. Our team of experts are continuously looking for ways to creatively solve payment needs for merchants by making payments smarter, simpler every step of the way. Visit www.merrco.com for more information.
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