What Cannabis Retailers Can Expect in 2021

12, 2021

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

From a global pandemic that disrupted nearly every market to a historic presidential election year, 2020 was unprecedented for the cannabis industry in almost every way. The year brought on new and market-altering challenges when it came to supply chain and statewide lockdowns. It also presented several opportunities to the industry after state governments deemed cannabis an essential business.

With cannabis demand at an all-time high (and millennials preferring it to alcohol as their substance of choice), a new administration in the White House, and an ongoing global pandemic, those in the cannabis sector— from cultivators and processors to distributors and retailers—need to look back to look forward and bring a new mindset into 2021 focused on increasing predictability and reliability across the board.

For success in the cannabis sector in 2021, there are four major areas operators should set their sights on.

Related: 3 Best Practices For Cannabis Retail Business Owners During A Crisis

1. Changes in buyer behavior 

The move from retail stores to online ordering, home delivery, and curbside pickup happened quickly to meet demands that emerged during statewide lockdowns and stay-at-home orders across the country. But while consumers welcomed a rapid shift, the bar was low for adapting purchasing options, and operators were eager to dive into any solution that worked. In 2021, as stay-at-home orders ebb and flow state by state, operators have the opportunity to perfect home delivery and curbside pickup over the next several months to continue these options long after the pandemic ends.

Beyond how consumers shopped, the products they shopped for also saw significant changes. Sales and consumption of edibles skyrocketed as inhalable forms of cannabis became less appealing compared to options that would have less of an impact on their respiratory system, hemp CBD sales saw a sharp drop amid the COVID-19 immunity supplements boom. New types of consumers turned to cannabis for reasons beyond just recreation, such as mental health management and sleep aids.

Consumer preference can quickly change, making staying relevant in the industry a challenge companies will continue to face in 2021. Continually innovating new products will be essential for this year. The industry should expect to see product innovation booms as it relates to the expansion of cannabis flower strains, beverages, and edibles, as well as an influx of exciting marketing campaigns and partnerships. 

2. Setbacks in compliance enforcement 

The industry has seen very little by way of large political setbacks in the last few years. While there have been some delays here and there,…

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