5 Ways To Do Cannabis Delivery Right During The Pandemic
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COVID-19 has transformed our reality as we know it, impacting every aspect of day-to-day life in ways we could never have imagined. With the tightening of COVID-19 regulations and stay-at-home orders hitting last March, the cannabis delivery platforms have become a sought-after solution for those customers hunkered down at home. At our delivery service Emjay, we saw a 50.1 percent increase month-over-month in business as people, not surprisingly, turned to cannabis for its holistic benefits to combat the stress and uncertainty running rampant. Perhaps more eye-opening, we experienced 56 percent higher gross sales in Q1 of 2020 than all of 2019 combined.
While the cannabis industry was fortunate to be deemed essential, this classification came with its own set of hurdles and questions. For many of us in the delivery space, the safety and health of both our customers and couriers remain the top priority. As a client-facing business, it’s also imperative that we function as smoothly as possible, promising the same competitive delivery times, product offerings, and customer service.
We adopted a quick and nimble approach to navigate these unchartered territories. When it comes to delivering both product and experience in the age of social distancing, owning the supply chain as much as possible is paramount. The future remains unclear and companies will have to continue to adapt to a different way of working as regulations lift. That said, it is possible to keep control and experience lasting success by honing in on strategic and flexible ways of working.
As we continue to learn from the past month and set our sights toward the future, here are our key takeaways for doing delivery right during the quarantine.
1. Be reliable and accountable
During this pandemic, customers want to know that their orders are going to be expedited and fulfilled promptly. They are likely experiencing difficulties or unreliable service while accessing grocery delivery, take out, and more, so it’s imperative to earn their trust from their very first order. Proving you’re a reliable partner is the key to customer acquisition, repeat business, and brand loyalty in the delivery space. At Emjay, we're able to achieve this by owning 100 percent of our operations and licenses, operating fully-trained couriers, utilizing a proprietary dispatch platform that allows us to track locations, dynamically batch and route orders and provide proactive up to the minute notifications of any changes in estimated times of arrival and more. Through our model, we provide a delivery time of 34.5 minutes, which is an attractive proposition for customers seeking immediacy.
2. Meet customer demand
Many of the major players in cannabis delivery fall short in one particular arena––inventory and product selection. Even if you’re able to attract a new or existing customer to your delivery platform based on convenience and ease of use, you will instantly lose them if the specific product or brand they’re looking for is out of stock or unavailable. This is why in the face of COVID-19 and heightened demand, companies should be observing and responding to real-time inventory fluctuation and expanding their selection beyond what they may have relegated for delivery in the past. We achieve this through daily tracking and reconciliations at the beginning and end of shifts, giving us reporting that allows for more accurate sales forecasting from a merchandising standpoint. By owning our dispensary and delivery licenses, we have a greater sense of control over our inventory through our facilities.
3. Practice safe handling
As delivery becomes the primary method for consumers to purchase cannabis, the urgency to adopt stringent hygiene and safety measures is paramount for not only protecting the customer but your internal team. Staying abreast of regional and national news updates as well as monitoring for CDC guidelines is critical for navigating the uncharted territory from a public health and cultural sensitivity standpoint. The goal is for customers to feel as comfortable as possible during transactions and employees to feel safe and protected while carrying out their jobs
We issue protective masks and gloves to all employees daily. All phones, cases, and tablets are disinfected between each job to prevent potential cross-contamination. We’ve pivoted to contact-free ID verification by allowing customers to hold out their identification card for it to be scanned by couriers, and we got approval to waive signature capture at the time of delivery, drivers will wipe down the payment terminal with disinfectant wipes before and after transactions.
For our brick-and-mortar locations, we are now offering curbside pick up and custom glass guard partitions have been fabricated to separate customers from the cashier. Our budtenders will come out to your car and help assist throughout the purchase process while wearing personal protective equipment for the consideration of customers and staff. We limit the occupancy in our store to assure social distancing is maintained.
4. Offer excellent customer service
As we overcome the barriers presented by this new normal as an industry, some dispensaries are learning how to navigate delivery for the first time as a means to survive. Beyond the investment in hiring new employees to offer delivery at scale, companies should underscore the value of customer service training. The role of carriers should not only be to fulfill deliveries and process payments, but act as the face of the company and engage with the customer. There is currently an abundance of incredible individuals from the cannabis industry that are out of work who are ideal candidates for these roles.
At Emjay, we place an immense amount of emphasis on vetting and training our team members. Through our in-depth training program that fosters customer service practices, sales techniques, and product education, we’ve been able to cultivate a fleet of reliable couriers that offer comprehensive customer care and are an extension of our brand promise. We encourage our couriers to get to know the customer, be personable, provide insights on products, and more. As a result, we've seen heightened driver retention and exponential sales growth.
5. Perfect the pricing model
The cannabis industry, in general, has always been a competitive one. To succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic, a company must be able to not only deliver quite literally, but deliver in three key areas; product assortment, convenience, and value. Today’s cannabis consumer has high expectations, demanding the products and brands of their choice, delivery without the wait, and above all, a competitive price that is not inflated by delivery charges or other fees.
By owning our licenses and infrastructure, our margin profile allows us to offer delivery at the same price as going to the store/dispensary. We believe delivering value is just as important as service and reliability, especially during a time when many retailers and delivery providers are increasing their prices. This is extremely unique in the delivery space when you think about food, grocery or other categories that are almost always 15 to 20 percent more expensive than going to the store.