At 2.30am on the 17th October this year, Canada sold its first legal batch of Cannabis making it the first major world economy to do so, adding an interesting new category to the world of retail.
There are still many important rules and regulations to iron out around the drug but as ever, the retail sector is right at the forefront of the change, already looking for ways to fulfill their part of the puzzle in a customer-centric way.
In areas such as Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, cannabis stores will begin opening in Spring. British Columbia, with one of the highest rates of cannabis use, only has one legal store open, so for the time being, aside from unlicensed shops that have been hanging around for a while, the majority of sales will be taking place online.
At the moment, in states of America where cannabis has been legal for a while, there is a huge range in the retail offer from clinical, pharmaceutical type stores to more luxury boutique spaces. The inconsistency in the offer leaves a lot of room for experimentation.
As the category is a complex one with a huge range of equipment, different strains of drug, different ways of consuming it and a range of health risks, it’s not hard to imagine that first-class customer service is going to be key, with well informed, professional sales experts to guide customers through the smokey maze.
And as the experience economy continues to grow in retail, we might expect to see cannabis retailers to capitalise on this too. One could imagine them taking the form of hash cake bakery lessons, after hours cannabis clubs or equipment masterclasses. Of course there is the issue of click and collect, home delivery and returns to think about.
Whilst retailers are deciding how best to get to grips with the specialist topic, here are two retailers who are already disrupting the traditional shop offer.
MedMen – The ‘Apple of Weed’
Medmen state; “we do not run pot shops, we manage class leading retail stores that happen to sell marijuana.” The shops are clean and modern, with iPads providing more information about each type of cannabis, branded products on the walls, uniformed budtenders to help customers and“iconic” fire-red shopping bags house each purchase.
Eaze – The ‘Uber of Weed’
The service offers marijuana and accessories ordered on an app and delivered to your doorstep in under an hour across major cities in California. It’s main advantage is the amount of data is collects about it’s customers providing the dispensaries it serves with a wealth of information about each one.