With the current situation surrounding the pandemic, staying home unless it’s absolutely necessary to go out is an effective way to reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus.
That’s changed how businesses reach their customers, and the marijuana industry is no different. While online shopping and deliveries of cannabis have risen in popularity over the recent years, the pandemic has made it even more critical to allow customers to access their medicines in a safe manner.
However, in some cities it’s already become relatively safe to go back to the store but even that has its own restrictions. Is brick and mortar really dead? We don’t think so.
According to Akerna Corp, a marijuana technology firm, they have seen a drop in pickup and online orders as more states started ending lockdowns by May 2020. “The number of delivery orders skyrocketed in March and April, but in May we’re seeing a shift back towards in person transactions. The average number of daily deliveries kept climbing through April but appears to be trending downward in the last two weeks, so we may have hit a peak,” explains Akerna VP of analytics Aryeh Primus. “We continue to see that the in-store transaction between consumer and budtender is key for people purchasing cannabis, and delivery takes away that.”
They looked at figures prior to January 2020, which was when the pandemic began. By March, they noticed a whopping 220% jump in daily deliveries, which spiked even higher to 710% in April. But by mid-March, Akerna saw a steady drop in in-store purchases which they credited to stay-at-home regulations. But with more states opening up, people were going back to dispensaries.
“When we saw the increase in alternate modes of fulfillment, like delivery and curbside pickup, our initial thought was that this might be a sustainable trend because of increased consumer convenience,” Primus says. “There will likely be a long-term increase, but the April bump doesn’t seem sustainable; at least some of the shoppers want to return to in person transactions. May deliveries are about five times what we saw in January, but that’s a 50% reduction compared to the highs in April.”
With the options available, do you prefer shopping online or in stores?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each.
Shopping at Dispensaries
Being able to buy your favorite cannabis with a few clicks online has made it far too easy to overlook the advantages of a brick and mortar service. But with just about any other experience, an actual store can provide benefits that can’t be replicated digitally.
Physical inspection: Shopping in-store will allow you to look and even smell the product, giving it a thorough inspection before you decide to purchase it. In turn, this decreases the chances of you ending up with a low-quality or bogus product. Reputable dispensaries don’t employ scammers, so you have a better chance of spending your money on something you know you will love or will truly work with your conditions. On the other hand, your run-of-the-mill head shop doesn’t have the same reputation that established dispensaries do; just be sure to know the difference.
Easy returns: Some dispensaries offer flexible return policies if you are unsatisfied. This is something you can’t do with an online transaction, or it will be difficult at best. If you are going to return a cannabis product online, there are so many steps involved including filing a claim, shipping the product back for them to inspect it, and once it satisfies their requirements this will be the only time they will issue a replacement.
Personal interaction: One of the best things about visiting dispensaries is meeting friendly and knowledgeable budtenders and staff. They’re passionate about cannabis and can share so much valuable information during your visit – this face to face interaction just can’t be replicated online. You get to ask all the questions you want, and even get a chance to build a relationship with them.
No shipping fees: It may be quicker to buy cannabis online, but you still have to pay for shipping fees.
When it comes to the disadvantages of buying cannabis in-store, some shops tend to sell at higher prices because they have to pay numerous overhead fees including labor and equipment. If price doesn’t matter to you, then all is good. It’s also good to keep in mind that while we are still in a pandemic, buying in-store can still pose a risk to exposure.
Which brings us to online shopping.
Having said that, there are still many legitimate reasons why people still prefer to shop online.
Convenience: For people with crazy hectic schedules, nothing beats the convenience of buying pot online. With a few clicks of a button, you can have your favorite cannabis strains and products delivered to your doorstep without the lines or traffic. For busy customers, this is the best option bar none.
Research: Before you shell out money online, you can take the time needed to do a thorough research on the brands, product reviews, and much more. You don’t have this kind of leeway when shopping in-store. Online, you can also compare prices with other retailers while taking advantage of numerous promotions and discounts.
Safer: Buying cannabis online eliminates human contact, which enables you to have peace of mind that you aren’t compromising your safety and your health.
No matter how you choose to buy, each method has its own advantages. These channels both bring value for you, the customer, but it’s important to think of considerations in price, quality, health, and safety above all.
After having read these, what method do you still prefer?