Twenty years ago, it would’ve been odd to imagine random strangers picking up food from restaurants and dropping it off at your house as you ordered from a smartphone that rivals Nasa’s computers from the 1960s.
Today, it’s not only commonplace but is a boon for people shuttered in their homes during quarantines that don’t want to go to the grocery store.
Outside of food delivery giants like UberEats and Postmates, delivery services have been on a trajectory towards a golden age for several years. You can thank Amazon for that.
The online retailing behemoth basically sells everything under the sun with options for next-day delivery, free for its Prime members. It’s only a matter of time before its fleet of drones becomes the new urban standard for delivery, too, pending regulatory concerns.
But is delivery more than merely porting some consumer products from point A to point B? The cannabis industry would have you believe, yes, indeed, it is much more.
In particular, the emerging cannabis delivery management platform, Drop Delivery, is redefining what customer delivery means. And it may create a lasting shift in how we perceive delivery management and consumer preferences.
Lean Startups, New Products
Riffing off Eris Ries’ “The Lean Startup,” the technologically-flush future will be defined by capital-efficient, nimble startups that capture the versatility of business direction and mobility of consumer preferences.
There’s no better market to launch a lean startup than an emerging one that is highly fragmented, contains a lucrative potential, and is largely confined to mostly two states. That’s the cannabis industry. Already generating billions in sales, the cannabis industry has fared much better than the rest of the world during a pandemic that has ruptured global supply chains.
Why? Its verticals are almost entirely localized in North America — primarily Canada, California, and Colorado.
However, like all emerging markets, the opportunity to conceal many of the industry’s inefficiencies into a more efficient market is ripe. “The cannabis industry, despite its rapid growth, is still highly fragmented,” details Vanessa Gabriel, Co-Founder of Drop Delivery.
“With our past company, Greenlight, we realized that a cannabis delivery business would be using numerous platforms to take care of their needs. As a cannabis business, I would need solutions for the following: e-commerce, POS/Inventory, compliancy, CRM & loyalty, SMS Marketing, and delivery logistics at the bare minimum.”
Oddly enough, a bespoke platform servicing all those comprehensive aspects of running a modern cannabis industry fell within the purview of Drop Delivery because of how they perceived the market opportunity.
They’re much more than just a Cannabis delivery management platform; Drop Delivery is a turnkey solution providing retailers with tools such as e-commerce, rewards and loyalty, delivery tracking, SMS marketing, analytics, compliance reporting and more.
“We offer all-in-one delivery management software,” says Gabriel.
“We empower our clients to build their company identity and increase customer retention with their own mobile app. Since all of their customer data is being tracked, they can send personalized SMS marketing messages to customers among a suite of other features.”
So, why is a comprehensive turnkey platform for cannabis businesses looking to tap into an overflowing reservoir of customers specifically targeting delivery management? Because it’s the future of retail.
If Amazon’s ever-expanding market dominance wasn’t proof enough already, then the intricacies of the cannabis market may prove more compelling. The cannabis sector is markedly different than food delivery and, most importantly, lay outside the purview of Amazon because of regulatory moats.
For example, cannabis products range from varying strength gummy bears to actual marijuana — all meticulously grown and crafted under the auspices of specific brands, growers, and manufacturers.
The options for products are significantly more wide-ranging than food, and cannabis’s THC is psychoactive. Pizza is not psychoactive, marking a sharp contrast between the classes of food and drugs.
There are even THC-infused craft beers now.
By catering to an emerging startup market within the technology space (e.g., delivery, marketing, etc.) rather than focusing on a single product, Drop Delivery can bolster companies looking to remain lean, nimble startups. It simply becomes the hub for launching a cannabis startup in a bustling city, with its clients as the spokes.
Competitively, platforms like Drop Delivery don’t have major tech giants to contend with like Amazon either. Amazon cannot legally distribute cannabis products, even CBD. It probably doesn’t want the headache of doing so either since it’s position in the retail e-commerce market is already entrenched.
“Customer retention and segmented marketing are all important aspects of building a successful company that should be incorporated from the beginning,” says Gabriel. “Those are rolled into the Drop Delivery nexus.”
The Rise of Super Apps & Market Consolidation
While not technically qualifying as a “super app,” Drop Delivery is intriguing as a microcosm for much of the ongoing technological consolidation broached by China’s WeChat. SuperApps are proliferating for a garden variety of reasons, but most importantly, because of reduced costs and streamlined access to large customer bases.
It’s much easier for users to transition between payment solutions, communications, social media, and e-commerce when they’re all embedded within the same interface. Hence, it’s not surprising that Instagram and Snapchat are prominently pursuing social commerce integrations.
Comparatively, the cannabis industry doesn’t really need a super app, at least for now. However, the same cost-cutting capabilities of super apps are mirrored by all-in-one bespoke platforms like Drop Delivery. Rather than agnostic services, however, they’re explicitly tailored to a niche industry’s requirements.
Efficiency subsequently becomes easier as cannabis firms can reduce costs by leveraging a SaaS package, mobile app, and comprehensive delivery management from a single locus. No need to spin up their own app at a premium using freelance development teams or navigating the convoluted digital marketing world. A one-stop-shop is naturally appealing.
Major technological hubs of services eventually lead to more efficient markets, delivery innovations, and lower costs that are passed on to consumers as lower prices since the overhead is smaller.
The cannabis delivery market may produce a lasting shift in delivery services.
By integrating multiple features into a single platform for other companies to seamlessly plug into, those companies can remain lean, efficient startups built for the digital age. Consequently, all-in-one delivery management platforms stand to absorb the most value from the innovations and tinkering of the spokes connected to their hubs.
Particularly in a niche, blossoming industry like cannabis — that’s a compelling lure for tinkering with delivery innovation. More capital from cost-savings, more research and experimentation with new methods.
It may even serve as a model for how to create an aggregative business without hemorrhaging money like Uber and the curious case of WeWork.
Who knows, maybe Amazon drones can eventually be contracted to disperse everyone’s favorite THC-infused craft beers across a sprawling metropolis. If you think strangers dropping off food is weird now, just wait until robots are dropping off marijuana consumables.