If you’re in the business of cannabis, you’re all-too-familiar with the complexities of the industry across the United States. The laws and regulations vary wildly the second you start crossing state lines, making the whole country a patchwork of cannabis cans and can’ts that are increasingly hard to follow.
Whether you’re making and selling a CBD-anything product—oils, ointments, gummy bears, honey sticks, breath mints—or setting up shop for other cannabis-related accoutrements like pipes, papers, and beyond, there are a lot of moving parts you have to pay attention to in order to stay successful (and legal) online.
One restrictive piece to the puzzle? Finding tech platforms that’ll let you operate your business on the web. From ecommerce platforms to payment processors and more, there’s still loads of stigma around even whispering the word “cannabis,” and a lot of companies just don’t do business with it.
At this point, we could start digging ourselves into the rabbit hole of why cannabis is or isn’t supported, its long social and political history, and its ever-evolving role in Western medicine, but that’s not what we’re here to say.
We’re here to say that we’re cool with cannabis, and Drip is just the ECRM you need to put your cannabis-loving customers first.
So, let’s get down to canna-business.
How Big Is the Cannabis Industry?
CBD. THC. Hemp. (Weed!) A slew of slang and acronyms can all be stuffed inside one little word: cannabis. So, what is it and why is the industry so hot right now?
In short, cannabis is a plant. Err, a family of plants; Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Originally from Central Asia, cannabis has clearly made itself cozy in mainstream culture across the United States.
Cannabis is made up of more than 100 components called cannabinoids, with two of the most infamous being THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). These compounds affect your body in different ways: THC is the psychoactive, high-inducing compound and CBD is the compound that can help you feel relaxed without altering sensory perception, coordination, or memory.
But since we are not horticulturalists here at Drip (except for maybe Ron in marketing), let’s dig into the numbers of the industry. In the United States, cannabis is legal in some form across 33 states. In 2018, the legal cannabis market was $9.1 billion—a number stretching to $55 billion globally.
CBD legally extracted from hemp plants has taken off in popularity as it’s a nonpsychoactive compound that’s reported to alleviate anxiety, arthritis, nausea, and (much) more. You’ve probably noticed CBD candies, serums, creams, pills, and ointments sitting on end caps at your local grocery store. It’s totally normal to see CBD-infused beers on tap at breweries, and your favorite anti-wrinkle cream probably has a CBD counterpart on the same shelf this very minute.
By inserting itself into plain old routines through supplements and beauty products, cannabis is becoming a bigger part of everyday living. Cannabis is a growing market, whether you look at its medical, recreational, or CBD-only use, and it’s only going to keep growing as more states legalize it in all forms.
If cannabis is becoming commonplace, then what’s the big deal?
Roadblocks to Selling Cannabis Online
Despite its surging popularity and proclamations of health benefits, there are a lot of roadblocks to selling cannabis online. Over 60% of Americans are in favor of legalizing cannabis, but the legality of the stuff still varies wildly from state to state. Even with 10 states legalizing cannabis in all forms—from non-psychoactive CBD applications to medical and recreational marijuana use—the rest of the U.S. is all over the place.
These discrepancies make it tough to sell something online without first verifying the legality of the goods in the state the buyer is in.
CBD from hemp plants became legal with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which clarified that “hemp and hemp products” are legal. However, in the same bill, state governments became responsible for regulating hemp products. Not long after, the FDA jumped in to remind everyone that it has authority over regulation, too. Finally, to make things more complicated, CBD from hemp is legal in some states, in some forms, and not other states in other forms.
Selling online becomes especially tough when you take into consideration that merchants in the cannabis industry are playing with a different set of rules and tools. For example, lead-generating, money-making tools like Facebook, Instagram, or Google ads are totally off the table for people in the industry.
A snapshot of Facebook’s advertising policies.
Cannabis merchants have also struggled to find sites to sell on, payment processors to work with, or email marketing platforms that will let them talk about their goods in the glory of the inbox.
The TL;DR: Cannabis is a messy business.
All of these cooks in the cannabis kitchen means selling online is complicated, and many sellers have a hard time determining who they can and cannot sell to, and what products they can and cannot sell. Instead of tapping into this incredible business opportunity through the reach of an online storefront, many cannabis retailers just ditch the web altogether and stick to good ol’ brick-and-mortar selling.
How Ecommerce Is Evolving with Cannabis
The legalization of cannabis in all forms across the U.S. might not be that far off. With complete legalization sweeping across Canada in 2018 and Mexico expected to legalize in the near future, us Americans are about to be in the middle of a cannabis sandwich.
Despite the uncertainty of nationwide legalization of cannabis in any form, strides have been made in the direction of full support for the industry in regards to ecommerce. While some tech platforms still prohibit people in the industry to sell the goods or accessories online, some are opening the door to this industry.
In November 2018, CanIDeal became the first platform built to help U.S.-based cannabis retailers sell online. And with more ecommerce marketing platforms getting on board with cannabis, retailers are going to be more empowered to set up shop and succeed.
One of those platforms supporting the industry is us (hey!)—Drip Ecommerce CRM. Like we said, there are a lot of hurdles to selling online. While your ecommerce platform may support your ventures, your email marketing, payment processor, or ad platforms might not. Trying to piece together a tech stack that helps your business is a pain and, ultimately, hurts your customers.
Drip believes your customers are like every other online customer, and they deserve a great experience. We believe you should be able to personalize shopping experiences no matter which product people are browsing or buying—cannabis-related or otherwise. Reaching and engaging with people outside your storefront is critical to your growth—now and in the future—and we think you shouldn’t be robbed of your fair share because of the products you’re selling.
Drip is a great fit for Daily High Club because we can test better, use stronger segmentations, and the overall experience is more user-friendly than competitors. Robust tools and visual aids for workflows also really help see the customer journey and where we need to test different segments. In our switch from Mailchimp to Drip, we saw an immediate increase in open rates and revenue. We are so happy Drip was to the rescue! — Daily High Club
Cannabis customers want to be treated to a personalized experience just as if they were buying shoes, shirts, or anything else online. They want merchants to understand their behaviors, wants, and needs along their entire buying journey. With Drip, ecommerce cannabis retailers can meet their customers head-on with those expectations and more. We’re here to help them put their customers first, and what could be better than that?
Reach, Engage, and Grow with Drip in the Cannabis Industry
There’s no denying that minds are changing about cannabis—and fast.
With widespread cannabis legalization on the horizon, the expansion of the industry and its merchants is inevitable. Drip is here for companies looking to hop onto the opportunity in front of them. With Drip, online cannabis retailers have access to a platform that helps them understand their customers at every stage of their buying journey so that these specialty shops can provide shoppers with all they could ask for, from information to products and more.
With an ECRM, cannabis retailers can sell online with one less roadblock in their way, and cannabis customers can finally get the experience they deserve.
In the ecommerce cannabis business?
Grab a free demo of Drip and see how it can help you get closer to all your cannabis-loving customers.