As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, legal cannabis merchants across Canada have learned that versatility in accepting payments is essential to survival and growth.
Depending on which part of the country they operate, cannabis retailers found themselves accepting online payments for orders picked up in the store, or delivered curbside or to customers’ homes. In-store cash was discouraged and even prohibited in some cases, while contactless payment methods came into the spotlight.
Yes, the quick embrace of innovative payment methods came as a response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, but it has driven home the message that we live in an omnichannel world. Customers will reward their business to retailers who cater to their payment preferences.
Nobody Likes an Inconvenient Checkout Process
Whether a shopping cart is online or in a brick-and-mortar cannabis dispensary, customers hate long waits and cumbersome checkout processes. They also want the kind of convenience offered by online payments in physical stores. According to Customer Think, almost 50% of customers who can’t use their preferred payment method will walk away from a purchase. So, by having a limited number of payment options, a merchant may be losing a significant number of customers.
Customer experience counts. If a retailer shows they care about their customers by providing the best service and accommodating their payment method of choice, customers will respond positively.
A Frictionless Retail Experience
In a world that is moving towards using less cash, conventional credit and debit cards have become the norm. Research conducted by BAI Research and Hitachi Consulting shows that 41% of consumers use cash less often, and 97% of survey respondents are turning to credit and debit payments instead.
With credit and debit card sales, merchants can expand their businesses, increase sales and realize benefits, such as speedy deposit of transaction funds into business bank accounts.
Accepting these cards is essential to most cannabis retail businesses—table stakes, really. To create a truly frictionless experience, merchants also need to offer dual-interface/contactless debit and credit card payment options, allowing customers to wave or tap their cards to pay for purchases. Not only is this method healthier and safer in a coronavirus world, it is far more convenient for shoppers.
From the merchant’s point of view, contactless payments also allow them to process transactions faster. On average, contactless cards are seven seconds quicker to process than chip-and-pin cards, and 15 seconds quicker than using cash. So, at a time when physical distancing rules limit the number of customers in the store, retailers can check out customers faster to allow for more customers to come in.
Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS)
Where allowed in Canada, the BOPIS option has been a hit among cannabis customers.
While COVID-19 has been harmful to the country and the economy, it has also taught us to appreciate what is important. And cannabis merchants have learned how important convenient checkouts and payments are to their customers and businesses.