MJBizMagazine September 2021 - 8

FromtheEditor | Kate Lavin
Preparing for the Future
T
he retail business changed forever in March 2020.
Grocery stores sold out of nearly all paper products,
dry goods and produce. N95 masks were nowhere to
be found. Even my smug refusal to pay for Amazon Prime
folded quickly when I could not find a thermometer anywhere
but felt compelled to take my temperature nonstop.
A Line to Remember
Perhaps the most memorable crossover between the
coronavirus and cannabis retail came March 23, 2020,
when Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that
marijuana and alcohol stores would close at 5 p.m. the
following day.
A friend who lives in a suburb that doesn't allow
regulated marijuana sales called me in a panic. " You go to
the dispensary, " she said, " and I'll go to the liquor store. "
When I arrived at the shop across the street, a masked
employee with an iPad was standing outside, sorting
customers into adult-use and medical lines while advising
them of the wait time: two hours.
I had been in line for about 90 minutes and made it
as far as the waiting room when the city-realizing its
announcement had created a two-hour, social-distancing
nightmare-reversed its plan to close marijuana retailers.
Enter the Purchasing Options
The chaos in Denver served as a warning to regulators
across the country: Like the Costco shoppers lining up at
6 a.m. and racing to the toilet paper aisle, cannabis
consumers were stocking up for an uncertain future.
Several state governments responded by passing
emergency legislation to permit marijuana preordering and
pickup services. Others allowed home delivery for the first
time. Consumer response was overwhelmingly positive, and
some markets have made these changes permanent. (See
page 66 for best practices on launching marijuana delivery
for your customers.)
Cannabis Retail 2.0
While preorders and delivery will undoubtedly be part
of marijuana sales going forward, other key changes
are happening. Some California cannabis brands are
sidestepping the traditional brick-and-mortar retail model
for reaching customers and selling to them directly online
(see page 48 to learn more).
The retail wizards at consumer-analytics company
Nielsen say it's only a matter of time before mainstream
retailers and logistics giant Amazon decide to enter the
regulated marijuana market.
And at least one developer already has launched a software
program that uses a store's inventory-management
system and individual customer preferences to offer personalized
cannabis recommendations to consumers.
The Future is Now
While some of the experts interviewed for this issue detail
changes that are years away-such as customized lighting
and music as well as automated product suggestions
unique to each individual who enters the store-other
innovations have already arrived.
Take, for example, the advice of retail executives who
transitioned from medical into recreational marijuana
sellers and shared their wisdom for the cover package on
page 40.
If you are in need of more inspiration, look no further
than MJBizCon, which returns to Las Vegas the week of
Oct. 18. The conference content team has done an
outstanding job putting together the agenda at
mjbizcon.com to prepare cannabis executives for the
future, no matter what that holds.
Kate Lavin
MJBizMagazine
Editor
8 Marijuana Business Magazine | September 2021
http://www.mjbizcon.com http://mjbizcon.com

MJBizMagazine September 2021

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