The on-demand economy is exploding. The rise of services such as Uber, GrubHub, and Amazon is forever changing the way we consume. I recently broke my iPhone screen. A few years ago, I would have taken my phone into some local repair stores for a quote, decided on a winner, dropped my phone off, and then picked it up a few days later.
This time, I opened Safari, Googled “iPhone Repair,” and got instant quotes from 3 different businesses without even getting off my couch. I then dropped my phone off, had a coffee, and picked it up again about 45 minutes later. The entire process took less than 2 hours.
In today’s society, this story seems pretty normal. This is because we’re being trained to consume quicker and easier than ever before. The on-demand economy has given rise to new consumer habits centered around real-time. Regardless of the product or service, we want to see it, order it, and have it in our hands now. But what does this mean for Cannabis? The legal marijuana industry is the fastest-growing in North America, expected to be worth over $20 billion by 2021.
In this article we explore how the effects of the on-demand economy reach beyond traditional services like Uber and Amazon to influence the way we consume Cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes.
The On-Demand Economy: Forever Changing The Way We Consume
Whether you need to schedule a ride, order dinner, or get your dry-cleaning done, chances are you can do it online.
According to new data from the National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS), the on-demand economy is attracting 22.4 million annual consumers who collectively generate over $57 billion of spending.
According to the survey, the 3 biggest categories of the on-demand economy include:
-Online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon, generating over $36 billion in annual spending and attracting over 16.3 million monthly consumers.
-Transportation (like Uber and Lyft), with $5.6 billion in annual spending and over 7.3 million monthly consumers.
-Food/grocery delivery (like Instacart), with $4.6 million in annual spending and over 5.5 million monthly consumers.
Some other major categories include freelance services like Elance and Upwork, as well as health and beauty services which are catered to by apps like StyleSeat. Now, it seems that Cannabis companies are finally making the move to grab their piece of the pie as well.
Cannabis: The New Frontier For On-Demand
The legal Cannabis industry in the US is on fire. In 2016, legal Cannabis sales totaled $6.7 billion, a 30% increase from the year before. By 2021, North American Cannabis sales are expected to be worth over $20 billion.
So far, 29 states in the US plus DC have legalized Cannabis to some extent. Alaska, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, and, most recently, Nevada and California have all completely legalized the drug for recreational use.
However, despite the rapid growth of the Cannabis market, the industry is lagging behind when it comes to servicing customers. Compare buying Cannabis to buying booze, for example, and this becomes very clear.
Thanks to the on-demand revolution, buying alcohol is easier than ever before. Apps like Swill and Klink provide customers with a pocket-sized liquor store where they can get their favorite drinks delivered to their door almost instantly.
The same goes for ordering food, thanks to apps like GrubHub or Eat24. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a consumer product that can’t be ordered online, except Cannabis.
While legal Cannabis sales have been around for a couple of years now, the industry has struggled to provide its customers with the kind of service and infrastructure they’re used to from other industries.
The Challenges To On-Demand:
While there’s no arguing that on-demand technologies are changing consumer behaviors, there are plenty of critics of the on-demand economy as well. Some will go as far to say that “on-demand is dead,” often pointing to over-saturation and a heavy reliance on venture capital.
In an article published on Quartz, author Sunil Rajaraman argued that a lack of brand loyalty, episodic customer use, and the use of precarious business models were some of the biggest threats to the on-demand economy. And he isn’t the only critic of the on-demand space.
But Paul and his team aren’t worried by these criticisms.Instead, he points to other challenges to the on-demand Cannabis sphere. One of the biggest challenges he faces, for example, is regulation. Cannabis laws vary greatly from one state or county to another, which have a huge effect on who can sell Cannabis and the products/services they can provide.
In San Jose, for example, any dispensary looking to provide delivery services has to be registered to do so. Right now, there are only about 15 retailers servicing the area.
Apart from that, the way Cannabis businesses can advertise their brand or products also varies greatly from one area to another, making it hard for businesses to attract traffic. Finally, competition is also growing.
Colorado, for example, has given out more than 2,500 marijuana business licenses and is estimated to have around 600 dispensaries spread across the state. Apart from that, companies like Eaze, Flow Kana, and Meadow also offer delivery services like greenRush.
While the on-demand economy is thriving, it still has a long way to come in the Cannabis sphere. However, Paul Warshaw and his team are 100% sure that the industry can develop into a fair playing field for both physical retail operations and on-demand services.
Ultimately, he believes together with great technology and a customer-focused approach, Cannabis businesses can get to where they need to be.
According to Paul, “The Cannabis industry is young but it’s growing quickly. By focusing on consumers and what they want and using technology to maximize their experience, greenRush allows Cannabis companies to provide their customers with the same level of service they’re used to from other on-demand economies.”