Meadow launches Dynamic Delivery to bring mobile cannabis dispensaries to California

·6 min read

Meadow's new Dynamic Delivery helped Cannable cut delivery times from hours to 20 minutes. How? The delivery vehicle is stocked with pot available for purchase, and customers can order, through an app, directly from the car in their neighborhood. Think of it like an ice cream truck with a modern online ordering system. But, instead of serving gelato treats and Creamsicles, these mobile dispensaries are slinging eighths of Gelato and Creamsicle.

"Now we're able to put inventory in a car trunk," David Tuel of Cannable told TechCrunch. He's the Director of Strategy & Technology at Cannable, a dispensary store-front and cannabis delivery service in Parlier, California.

"We can have inventory stored in the vehicles, rather than stored in one conglomerate e-commerce location," he said. "When customers order, they are ordering based on the vehicle that is in their location, rather than ordering from the primary menu at our home base -- and they can still order from our main menu, too."

Meadow built Dynamic Delivery to give dispensaries the tools needed to operate such retail locations. Meadow's solution wraps up the handful of tools dispensaries have to use to offer similar services. For example, it automatically dispatches drivers and includes real-time inventory reporting. It features geo-targeted SMS marketing, too, which allows for precise, targeted advertisement.

Meadow was once called the Amazon of weed. Its platform, like AWS, serves a large part of the cannabis retail industry. Now Meadow is pushing the retail platform forward with Dynamic Delivery.

Weed delivery is quickly growing. More consumers are opting to have their pot delivered rather than going to a dispensary. In 2021, 60% of retail cannabis transactions were delivered, up from 50% in 2020, according to a report published today by Weedmaps. In addition, delivery among Gen Z users increased 125% year over year.

Most dispensaries operate delivery like mail carriers. Stores receive orders, which are then loaded into a vehicle and sent to the customer. Called "hub and spoke," this delivery method is reliable and low-cost, but often slow, much to the frustration of the store and consumer alike.

There's a large untapped market in California. The state legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, but it's only sold in 35% of the state. The remaining 65% do not have access to a dispensary. This could be for several reasons, including lack of resources to develop regulations or a legal prohibition on the sale of cannabis in retail stores. However, in a 2020 ruling, a Fresno, California judge affirmed the right to deliver to these areas by dismissing a lawsuit by 24 California cities seeking to ban deliveries.

While there are strict limits and regulations to mobile dispensaries, there are significant benefits for the dealer and consumer. Delivery times are usually slashed, and it allows for some novel retail use cases.

Meadow co-founder David Hua gave the example of a mobile dispensary at a Giant's baseball game. With this platform, a retailer could set a geofence around the stadium and offer delivery only in that region. Since the driver has the product in the vehicle, deliveries happen in minutes rather than hours. And each time there's a sale, Meadow's platform tracks the inventory, processes the cash payment and allows the driver to stay compliant with Metrc, the widely used cannabis regulatory system.

Hua says with just a vehicle, driver and a few clicks, operators can set up mobile dispensaries anywhere in California and even operate in cities and areas that do not have brick and mortar dispensaries.

"Imagine Golden Gate Park," Hua said. "We just had the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival. You could draw an area around there and have a drop zone. Another option is to do a farmer's market model where there are little kiosks.

"There are a lot of things here I think we can play with -- or at least the dispensaries can play with -- to reach their customers more expeditiously without having to waste time going back and forth from the dispensary."

California allows operators to work out of a vehicle with $3,000 worth of inventory, and $5,000 worth if the merchandise includes pre-orders. There are legislative efforts to increase the in-vehicle inventory size to $10,000 - $25,000 which is where Meadow's comprehensive solution would become critical.

Dispensaries do not need Meadow's Dynamic Delivery tools to offer mobile services. Such services are already legal under California law. However, operating a mobile dispensary often requires multiple platforms. It can turn into an administrative mess that relies on texting, third-party payment integration (made harder by cash-only transactions) and human error.

Hua explained the pain points Dynamic Delivery addresses. For one, he says, human error can inadvertently result in drivers carrying more than the legal limit. In addition, without automatic inventory management, retailers can run into compliance reconciliation issues, and online menus can quickly become inaccurate.

"Communication with the customer can become an issue," Hua said. "If there's something in the menu that isn't updated, they have to call the customer, and that's an issue.

"What's interesting about our system is retailers can create zones that have one driver in it. Then, any order that comes to that menu gets automatically dispatched to that driver, so it's taking the labor down significantly," Hua said.

Meadow's new platform allows operators to set regions for the delivery vehicles. Each vehicle can be its own inventory hub, allowing one van to serve a certain region quickly.

"We have a use case where you can say, 'Hey, driver, go to your area and cover that territory, and we'll load you with a handful of brands,'" Hua said. "I'll push a notification to my past customers and tell them you're in the area. I'll give them a discount code for the next 15 minutes."

Hua considers this feature a serious marketing effort that can operate at scale. He explains that in test runs, inner-city dispensaries can reach previous customers who are working from home.

"What we've seen in San Francisco and other areas, people are working remote and not coming back in the city, but they're still customers. So now dispensaries can push out into those territories by putting a car out there."

Meadow started building these features as delivery became critical in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, as the pandemic dragged into 2021, the company started building out in earnest.

Meadow is launching this feature first in California and is exploring bringing it to Michigan, Massachusetts and New York.

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