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Cannabis eCommerce Options in Canada

By Ample Organics

June 25, 2020

Whether you’re waiting for your sales licence, or have just received it, it’s important to know your eCommerce options, how they can integrate with your seed-to-sale software, and the implementation work that will be required. 

These tips can help your business become part of the new cannabis retail landscape and avoid getting stuck in the old one. 

Below, we cover the three most common options licence holders have when starting an eCommerce store, and medical sales program. 

Seed-to-Sale Software with integrated eCommerce

Certain seed-to-sale vendors, like Ample Organics, offer integrated eCommerce platforms with their software packages. The value of an integrated solution is that  Health Canada’s required tracking, as well as the eCommerce store, can be managed on the same system. This makes the flow of data easy and accurate when it comes to medical patient information, and tracking sales data. 

There are also cost-savings included with seed-to-sale vendors that provide eCommerce platforms. Rather than paying for medical sales functionality from your seed-to-sale vendor, plus all of the eCommerce store and integration costs, our platform comes with a turn-key eCommerce site. The site can be easily custom-branded and automatically feeds data into the Ample Organics platform. 

3rd Party eCommerce Providers

Current eCommerce providers involved in the cannabis industry, such as Shopify, are sometimes used for cannabis eCommerce stores. This option will likely require some custom development work to allow your eCommerce store to “speak” with your seed-to-sale software in order to pass on patient data, such as prescription verification and limits. The eCommerce store will also need to pass sales data to the central tracking location to be used later in compliance reports. 

The difficult parts of managing an eCommerce store will be handled by the third-party vendor, but it comes at a cost. Typically the cheapest platforms start at $500/month for hosting, take 2-3% sales commission, and run a high compliance risk considering the platforms are not built to handle the nuances of online cannabis sales. 

Self-hosted Solutions

The least common and least recommended eCommerce option is creating a self-hosted solution. It’s important to note that even if you take this DIY approach, you will almost certainly still need to use third-party tools and services to assist with aspects like building/designing the site, hosting fees, custom development work to integrate your seed-to-sale platform, and payment processing tools. These costs can add up quickly, and the more you try to hack together yourself, the more compliance risk you are exposed to. 

Retailers and license holders who succeed throughout the remainder of 2020, won’t be able to attribute their success solely to the creation of beautiful storefronts prime for foot traffic, or relying on front and center brand exposure. Instead, ensure you have eCommerce capabilities with a variety of payment options, a user experience designed to drive conversion, and seamless integration with your inventory management system.