Alberta’s licensed cannabis retailers will be legally allowed to sell products online and provide cannabis delivery services in the province from March 8, 2022. With this progressive move, Alberta has followed other major Canadian provinces, where private retailers can sell cannabis to consumers through all possible channels. Currently, the AGLC (Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis) controls online cannabis sales and delivery through its Albertacannabis.org site. But from next month onwards, the government-owned retailer will be decommissioned, and private cannabis retailers will be afforded new opportunities to grow their business.
This is great news for private cannabis retailers in Alberta, as you can target a much larger consumer market online-and with many people preferring convenient services like delivery over going to a store, this transition couldn’t have come at a better time. E-Commerce and delivery are vital to the growth of your cannabis retail business and will add to your profits. If you are still figuring out how to choose the best E-Commerce platform for your cannabis store, check out this blog to learn the basics. Below, find answers to the most frequently asked questions about cannabis online sales and delivery in Alberta.
Can You Sell Cannabis Online in Alberta?
Yes, private retailers can sell cannabis online and deliver it to customers' homes in Alberta from March 8, 2022. With the recent amendments to Bill 80, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, licensed retailers will now be permitted to sell cannabis products on their E-commerce platforms and offer delivery services, including curbside pickup. Retailers will be allowed to deliver cannabis via contractors or staff directly employed by the licensee only.
You must obtain an endorsement from the AGLC before launching your online sales and offering cannabis delivery services. As per regulations, you may sell products only on your E-commerce website or a mobile version of the same, but the regulator has not permitted the use of third-party apps. Although you may use a third-party service to facilitate your online cannabis store, it is probably best to own your E-Commerce platform to stay compliant.
As a Licensed Retailer, What do I Need to Sell Cannabis Online and Make Deliveries?
You need your own cannabis E-commerce website that is not hosted on a third-party platform. To operate an online cannabis store as a licensed retailer, you must:
- Obtain a special endorsement from the AGLC, as per regulations.
- Meet specific criteria to verify the authenticity of your cannabis E-Commerce website and legal license.
- Implement advanced online age-gating, since self-attestation or a drop-down selection of date of birth has been deemed insufficient by the AGLC.
- Not accept online orders through third-party services or use them for delivery.
- Only deliver within Alberta, and never to any minors or intoxicated consumers.
The AGLC’s provincial online cannabis retailer has started the process to withdraw from the digital marketplace so that private retailers can launch their own E-Commerce platforms. The AGLC inspectors will regularly inspect cannabis retailers' websites to ensure compliance.
How do I set up an Online Cannabis E-Commerce Store?
When setting up your online cannabis E-Commerce store, ensure the following:
- Host your website and E-Commerce on the same server for better organic traffic.
- Avoid using iFrame-embedded menus, as they are detrimental to SEO.
- Customize your online store design so that it is consistent with your branding.
- Display products with relevant information & images for a better user experience.
- Seamless integration with your cannabis POS for simplified operations.
As per regulations, licensed cannabis retailers won't be allowed to process online orders placed via third-party cannabis marketplaces not operated by the licensee, and it’d be essential to have your own cannabis E-Commerce website, that is verifiable with your Alberta cannabis retail license.
With straight out-of-the-box free platforms like Buddi or custom-built E-Commerce powered by WooCommerce like Dabber, that integrate seamlessly with Cova POS, launching your cannabis E-Commerce will be an easy process. With several plug-and-play options available for display menus, you have the flexibility to design your cannabis E-commerce website in a way that truly reflects your brand and the online customer experience you wish to offer.
How Can I Provide Cannabis Delivery Services in Alberta?
Licensed cannabis retailers can deliver to customers’ homes or offer curbside delivery only via staff contracted or directly employed by the licensee, or via common carriers. Cannabis retailers can also charge delivery fees for rendering these services. Third-party delivery services or any other local delivery services are not allowed, and you could be fined if found not complying with the regulations.
When making cannabis deliveries, ensure the following:
- Provide customers the flexibility to choose a delivery time.
- GPS tracking for employees delivering the order.
- Verification of customer’s age and ID upon delivery.
Some SOPs for cannabis delivery may be different based on local municipality regulations. But with Cova POS, tablets for order processing and tracking, and our seamless E-commerce integrations, your cannabis delivery program can be easily managed, from receiving online orders to payment processing and final transactions recorded in sales reports. Platforms like Buddi and Dabber integrate seamlessly with Onfleet, which helps you streamline your delivery operations, manage high-volume orders efficiently and deliver a great customer experience.
How do I Promote my Cannabis E-commerce Store and Drive Online Traffic?
If you have your own online website with advanced native E-commerce tools, you will have better opportunities to leverage local SEO and rank higher for cannabis products on Google. Also, creating regular blog posts for your website is a great SEO best practice to improve organic traffic and online visibility. Of course, announcing the launch of your cannabis E-commerce platform on social media and promoting it regularly while complying with marketing restrictions will also help drive traffic to your online cannabis store.
An independent cannabis e-commerce website will provide you relevant customer information, including demographic data such as age, gender, location, and how people found your website will help you analyze consumer behavior and influence future purchases. With retailer-owned customer data, you can build email lists for direct marketing and offer promotions based on specific shopping behavior. All such information, directly available via the COVA cannabis POS system, will help generate reports that you can analyze to retarget customers better, improve the online user experience, and build a direct relationship with your customers.
Own Your Cannabis E-commerce in Alberta & Grow Your Business
Don’t fall for any deceiving all-in-one cannabis tech solutions offered as a bundle, because either your online orders will be facilitated through third-party marketplaces, or you won’t have direct access to customer data. Neither will your online cannabis retail store be compliant with AGLC regulations, nor will you be able to own the customer relationship, which is essential to growing your business. Your best bet is to launch an independent cannabis E-commerce platform with all the functionalities highlighted above to help you prosper. With Cova POS and our versatile integrations to various E-commerce and delivery solutions, you can pick the options that best fit your needs and scale your business while staying compliant with regulations. Click below to get started with cannabis E-commerce and delivery at your retail store in Alberta today.