As Shopify processes cannabis orders at lightning speed, Canadian Post strike threatens to grind deliveries to a halt
By Laura Kuhl
Oct 24, 2018
As cannabis went legal in Canada last week, Shopify kicked into high gear, processing more than 100 orders per minute. The e-commerce platform based out of Ottawa is the new face of online cannabis sales having been chosen by five provinces, including Prince Edward Island, to design the online retail platform for Canadian cannabis.
Within the first twelve hours of the new law going into effect, over one million users placed 100,000 cannabis orders online through Shopify. Even Loren Padelford, Shopify’s Vice President and General Manager, was pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
“For 12 hours in and the number of stores that are live, that’s a pretty big number,” Padelford told Toronto’s Globe and Mail. “It’s not as big as Black Friday, but it’s definitely a big day...These are big stores with consistent, large volume going through them.”
Not every site functioned as superbly as Shopify on opening day. The Globe and Mail also reported that Alberta’s Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis Commission saw more online customers than they anticipated, forcing users to wait in an online queue for almost an hour until online traffic subsided.
Amid staggering cannabis sales, Canada Post threatens to strike
Shopify’s numbers may look good to cannabis investors across North America, but these sales represent actual, tangible products. Shopify may manage hundreds of orders a minute, but those orders need to be filled and delivered in a timely fashion for the business of cannabis to succeed. There is no same-day marijuana delivery in Canada (yet), and The Canadian Press reported that consumers are waiting a few days for deliveries.
Even if Canadians can now have their marijuana delivered, it does not automatically guarantee a stress-free environment for the cannabis community. The function of online cannabis sales is just that — sales. Delivery depends on other resources, and Canada Post has already put the country on notice prior to legalization.
“Canada Post has been struggling lately with a massive increase in parcels, not just from cannabis, but of course from the shift from retail to online shopping,” Mike Palecek, President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, told The Canadian Press. “We've seen exponential growth in parcels, and that is causing a whole number of questions.”
Canada Post, the largest parcel shipping company in the country, is more than prepared to deliver cannabis. Medical sales have been legal for over a decade, and delivering medical cannabis is already an established norm at the Post. There are programs in place that require signatures and other forms of verification, and these same systems are now being applied to recreational marijuana. Cannabis is not necessarily the problem, but the amount of orders and parcels is a contributing factor on the Canadian Union of Postal Workers’ list of grievances.
The Union, which represents 50,000 Canada Post employees, released a notice of strike amid a twenty percent increase in the number of packages over the past two years. Shopify’s stunning numbers and other recreational marijuana deliveries are only exacerbating an existing problem. Rolling strikes could start as early as Monday if the Union’s conditions are not met.
Would a Canada Post strike be a detriment to cannabis sales? Most likely. The nation saw hundreds of thousands of online cannabis orders on the first day alone. But without a shipping company to fill and deliver these orders, those sales will be nothing more than numbers on a page.
*Header Image: By Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine