If you own a brick-and-mortar business in Arizona, the Coronavirus pandemic likely dealt a hefty blow to your business model, assuming that model included customers frequenting your establishment.
In an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, stay-at-home orders and business closures were implemented, making traditional commerce difficult. In the wake of these developments, many companies had to find new ways to navigate the changing landscape, which ultimately resulted in an expansion of online commerce on a scale previously unseen.
As a point of fact, the pandemic played an undeniable role in bringing this digital marketplace into the mainstream, prompting many who’d been hesitant about shopping online to begin doing so out of necessity. This is true of a large contingent that had previously shopped in-person for marijuana.
While Arizona dispensaries remained open during the pandemic, many of the precautions put in place severely reduced in-store traffic. After COVID guidelines went into effect, individuals began to encounter issues such as longer wait times and limited access to some products.
Before long, many customers discovered a workaround in the form of online ordering.
Across the entire consumer landscape, the pandemic saw the number of people shopping online skyrocket, even among older age groups who had previously been skeptical of buying things on the internet.
Unsurprisingly, the ability to order online has since become one of the most popular ways to obtain cannabis, with a Weedmaps study finding that online orders increased by 55 percent from 2021 to 2022.
Among the apparent benefits appealing to online customers, ease of access and the freedom of choice seem to be near the top of the list.
Let’s be honest; for some, the idea of going into a dispensary to buy marijuana can be daunting. Despite the welcoming nature of many dispensaries in Arizona, a customer who is less familiar with the product may feel hesitant to discuss their needs with a budtender, while others might worry that they don’t know enough about cannabis to adequately communicate their preferences.
Thankfully, the ability to order online empowers customers with the chance to read up on any specific products, allowing them to be fully informed when it comes to finding the ideal product. Additionally, online ordering enables consumers to take their time perusing a dispensary’s inventory, allowing for a leisurely and stress-free shopping experience.
The legalization of recreational marijuana, which was enacted around the middle of the pandemic, represented a significant increase in online ordering. Despite many dispensaries relaxing COVID protocols around that time, a great deal of consumers seemingly found it more convenient to shop from the comfort (and relative safety) of their own homes.
In addition to shopping online, customers can opt to have their order delivered from many of the dispensaries in Phoenix-area markets, as well as in other areas throughout the state.
One benefit of delivery: a number of shops have wide delivery radiuses, some of which span up to 30 miles in diameter, adding an element of accessibility for those who are looking for marijuana in Phoenix, but who may be in an area without a nearby dispensary. Delivery is especially useful for individuals who have mobility issues or otherwise are unable to shop in-person due to an ailment or affliction.
The booming digital market has been a windfall for the industry, as well. Given its comparatively lower overhead cost than in-store operations, many brands have been able to branch out in innovative ways, while also investing in the infrastructure to further grow their online presence.
Another key benefit for businesses who bring their marketplace into the digital realm is the fact that the internet never closes. While a company’s ability to promote, advertise and otherwise operate from their physical storefront is often limited to building hours, such is not the case online.
Therefore, it’s possible for potential customers to interact with a particular brand on their own time, making it possible for businesses to build, grow and maintain a consumer base without the limits present with a physical storefront.
It’s interesting to consider the impact that COVID response has had on the cannabis industry. During a period of time when businesses and consumers throughout the economic landscape were struggling to interface, cannabis businesses and consumers arguably found it easier to connect.
What’s more, while profits were down in many areas of the business world at large, the cannabis industry in Arizona generated record numbers, bringing in over $1.4 billion in 2021. Of course, it should be noted that the addition of recreational customers contributed to that total.
Whether online shopping continues to grow remains to be seen. In this age of automation, it would hardly be surprising to see things trend toward a point where we interact less with each other, and more with technology.
Of course, regardless of where these technological implications take the industry, there will never be a replacement for the sage advice of your local budtender.