Legalization is great news for “budding” eCommerce entrepreneurs. But how does one sell pot legally across murky state and federal lines? If I were in this business I’d have some reservations, but that’s not to say it can’t be done. It is possible to brand and market marijuana without breaking the law.
It’s almost a foolproof industry…if you open up shop in Washington state, Oregon, Nevada, California, Colorado, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, or Washington D.C. But what if you want to sell weed online? What if you don’t live in one of these states?
If we’re going to do this, we need to be informed. We need to understand all the caveats and regulations. It’s too easy to be caught off guard when new rules go into effect. And there will be new rules.
Take Dixie Elixirs & Edibles as an example. At their peak, they were arguably the best-known brand of THC-infused drinks in Colorado––that is until new laws required them to change their aluminum bottles to opaque, childproof bottles. The company complied. New bottles. New packaging. All good, right? Not exactly. Dixie lost a full 90 days of sales while they waited for their new packaging. That’s a lot of green (get it?). That loss would have been dramatically reduced if they had kept their eye on new marijuana-related bills.
What region of the country will your online dispensary cater to? What proposed legislation should you prepare for? Are you selling weed for medical or recreational purposes? Are you smoking weed right now? Is it possible to heat a Hot-Pocket evenly? These are all questions that need to be considered. I can help you with that.
The main concern bud-shoppers will have is whether or not your eCommerce site is legitimate. When most people think about buying marijuana online, they think of dark web horror stories and Bitcoin (which who even understands, right?).
Make the digital shopping environment one that inspires trust. Confidentiality and clear directions are essential. Be very proactive in your value proposition around their privacy. VERY. Explain how they will receive their product and how things will be charged on their payment processer BEFORE checkout.
I would also be very cognizant of what kind of eCommerce and digital marketing tracking you are using. A simple Google or remarketing pixel from Facebook could be misconstrued as crossing already tense concerns about privacy.
Positive word-of-mouth within appropriate online communities can make your business bloom. Social Media is most effective when it’s within a tribe, and from a digital marketing perspective- this has a lot of potential. As any good 420 aficionados knows; the whole art, science, and enjoyment is meant to be shared. So if you are going to take the publicly visible plunge with your bud-biz; then position yourself within the tribe, and open to engaging with other partakers.
Multiple YouTube influencers have lit-up on their channels to receive thousands of responses about their bud-smoking instead of the other products they are showcasing. Weed is interesting because it is still TABOO. They have also had their contracts rescinded by national CPG companies for lighting up. Perhaps they should have read their contractual agreement to their advertisers before getting high?
At this time, pictures or marijuana or ad copy about weed are not allowed in the Facebook and Instagram network. This presents an interesting challenge for generating traffic. You have to figure out a way to talk about it- without talking about it. A common practice is to reference tomatoes. Growing tomatoes, fertilizing tomatoes, harvesting tomatoes, etc.
The cultural shift towards legal and decriminalized marijuana is spilling over into eCommerce. Those who are gutsy enough to be one of the firsts in the online “Green Rush” will reap huge rewards if they learn from the mistakes of on-ground shops, stay abreast of legislation, and create an environment of trust and respectability online. And no shake!
Legal-ese: I am not endorsing selling weed online. I am not providing you with legal expertise about the nuance and jurisdiction of selling weed. Do not call me to post bail.