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Cannabis retailers: challenges to overcome in 2021

While the cannabis industry offers many exceptional opportunities for growth, retailers nonetheless face several significant challenges in 2021.

In addition to keeping up with the ever-evolving legislative changes at both the federal and provincial levels, cannabis retailers also have to face roadblocks when trying to access banking services. Getting a cannabis business up and running means navigating through underwriting and risk teams at different payment acquirers and processors.

And if all that wasn’t enough, the cannabis market is rapidly becoming saturated, making it harder for retailers to establish a strong brand identity and build customer loyalty. In the midst of growing competition and consolidations, how can retailers ensure they’ll be relevant in the future? And what about unexpected roadblocks? 2020 saw the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; as this challenge continues, how can retailers prepare for obstacles in the future?

Navigating Regulations

While cannabis is legal across Canada, each province or territory sets its own restrictions and regulations regarding sale and distribution. Some provinces have adopted privatization, with the government leaving the retailer role. Retailers must also manage regulations imposed in the wake of COVID-19, which determine whether cannabis retailers are an essential service, and how customers can access their products.

By including options for remote order pay in store to full payment with curbside pickup or delivery, cannabis retailers gain flexibility and the ability to respond quickly to lockdowns.

Product differentiation

With increasing competition in the market, retailers need strategies to ensure their products stand out. How are they unique?

There is scope to develop different product formats. Craft cannabis and store-driven brands will represent a growing market.


To ensure they’re offering the best possible customer service, cannabis retailers need technology that supports their POS and payment processor needs, as well as allowing flexible options such as click and collect for curbside pick up and delivery.

Merrco has built a cannabis technology ecosystem with Point of Sale, Click and Collect and other technology partners that enables an exceptional customer experience. From banking to processing, hardware to software, we’re helping cannabis retailers improve their customers’ experience, their product offerings, and their operational efficiency.

Cannabis specialization is essential for partners to understand the new value proposition models independent software vendors (ISVs) and value-added resellers (VARs) bring to the marketplace. Our experience shows that a true cannabis omnichannel approach is central to deploying end-to-end solutions that never stray outside of the cannabis ecosystem.

As a purpose-built cannabis payment processor that assesses new players in our market, we validate business partnerships that have been internally tested and proven before we introduce them to our clients and partners. From POS systems, click and collect solutions, ecommerce gateways, kiosks, menu boards and sleek terminal solutions, Merrco is the only payment provider integrated with all the leading cannabis software and hardware providers. Merrco’s curated and integrated ecosystem is continuously evolving and, looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, we believe Merrco will be uniquely positioned to seamlessly source and implement the exciting innovation and proof-of-concept we are already testing, unifying the solution across all sales channels.

As a new and evolving space, the cannabis industry rewards foresight and the ability to pivot quickly and adapt to change. In addition to smart and compliant payment solutions, Merrco has the strategic knowledge and insight that will keep your business ahead of the competition.

Want to learn more about how Merrco can work with your business? Contact us to get started.

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