The COVID-19 pandemic has done a significant amount of damage to many small retail businesses across the country. The whiplash of economic closings, reopenings, and now closings again, is enough to make your head spin. Some states, like Massachusetts, didn’t consider cannabis dispensaries as “essential business” back in March and April, have now eased restrictions. But one thing is sure, the retail cannabis dispensaries that pivoted to curbside pickup and delivery in response to these restrictions will be the businesses that have a chance of survival beyond this pandemic. Here’s a quick overview of five things to consider as you make the switch.
1. Check your state’s COVID19 rules
Each state has its own series of COVID-19 public health laws related to medical and recreational cannabis sales. For certain states such as California and Colorado, licensed cannabis stores have been deemed essential, as medical marijuana is vital for many patients. This means curbside pickup, drive-thrus, and delivery services are all legally allowed during the pandemic, as long as you have received a license to do so. But there are nuances with these regulations, so check with your individual state and region for specific rules.
Which contactless services are allowed at dispensaries in your state? Download our guide “Cannabis in COVID-19” for the state-by-state regulations.
2. Stock up on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
While curbside and delivery “curb” the chances of exposure, you have to ensure that the employees delivering or running out to the designated pickup areas have the right protective equipment. Gloves and masks are a must for your employees, especially those that are handling medical cannabis that may be consumed by someone with a compromised immune system.
Beyond masks and gloves, professional disinfecting services, hand sanitizers, sneeze guards at the register, and wiping down touchscreens are just a few ways you can keep your dispensary safe. Check with local and state regulators for a full list of required precautions.
3. Prep your space
In order to have curbside pickup available, you need to designate a specific space for customers to park their cars and wait. To reduce interactions, you can adopt a text-based check-in system for customers to use for curbside delivery.
4. Take your business online
Before it was about foot traffic and now it's about online traffic.
Companies like Jane and dutchie allow dispensaries to build an online storefront menu based on your custom products or their pre-built library of products. These product menus integrate directly with your POS system to automatically update your inventory, making it easy to maintain an accurate list of in-stock products on your website.
5. Spread the word, not the virus
If you’ve decided to pivot towards curbside or delivery, make sure your customers know it. This can be as simple as emailing them or as extensive as engaging local media to inform them. Also make sure you update your website to reflect your new business hours, protocols around sanitation, and information about online ordering. Don’t forget your Google My Business profile and Yelp, too!
The businesses that find new, creative ways to stay open while also keeping customers and staff safe have the best chance of surviving this economic downturn. For more tips on how to pivot your cannabis operations, get the full guide “Cannabis in COVID-19: Pivoting to Curbside Pickup & Delivery During a Pandemic” now.