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Justin Robinson’s 3 Tips to Succeed in E-Commerce

Justin Robinson’s 3 Tips to Succeed in E-Commerce

Justin Robinson’s 3 Tips to Succeed in E-Commerce

Co-founder of Drizly and Lantern Justin Robinson began his career as an entrepreneur with a simple text. In 2021, a friend sent the text: “Why can’t you get alcohol delivered?” And the rest was history.

However, Justin Robinson understood that starting Drizly was a grind. He and his co-founders needed some luck and a lot of determination to build their company, a “three-tier compliant technology that would change the way we shop for beer, wine, and spirits.”

While trying to lift Drizly off the ground, Justin Robinson and his co-founders worked for 6 months at a liquor store. Without a wide network and mentors, they knew they had to work extra hard to succeed in business.

At the liquor store, Justin Robinson learned the “importance of getting your hands dirty in the industry,” and they understood “all parts of your supply chain—suppliers, distributors, managers, and customers.”

Eventually, Justin Robinson grew Drizly to the “largest marketplace for alcohol in North America.” With that success, he embarked on a new venture, applying the lessons he learned from the grind.

Justin Robinson also co-founded Lantern, which is “an on-demand, cannabis home-delivery platform that provides legal, convenient access to cannabis dispensaries and their products for state-issued medical marijuana cardholders.”

With Lantern, Justin Robinson offers “transparency, equity, and access to cannabis” to people who “want to explore cannabis with confidence,” but are “overwhelmed with choice.” He also wants to uplift “an industry that’s for far too long been living in the shadows.”

Check out more interviews with hard-nosed entrepreneurs here.

Cannabis can be complicated but shopping for it doesn’t have to be. Justin Robinson, Drizly & Lantern

Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Justin Robinson: Backed by Drizly, Lantern is able to leverage seven years’ worth of delivery technology and operational expertise. We’re now able to apply this expertise and advanced, innovative delivery technology together with licensed dispensaries to the cannabis industry.

What sets Lantern apart is how we’re able to empower dispensaries to implement efficient and scalable delivery operations, which allows for flexibility across markets with regard to regulations.

Lantern is 100% focused on providing a best-in-class technology platform and service that connects consumers to dispensaries. From a consumer perspective, this allows us to be very concentrated on the front-end consumer experience.

Lantern brings a familiar, intuitive, frictionless e-commerce shopping experience to the consumer that they already know and love, similar to the shopping experiences they have in any other category.

What sets Lantern apart is customer-led, product-first shopping and discovery — customers discover the product that is right for them by browsing strains, reading reviews, and being matched to products via our Discovery Tool.

Cannabis can be complicated but shopping for it doesn’t have to be. In this way, Lantern is positioned to bring both dispensaries and brands closer to their consumers online.

As we work closely with dispensaries and regulatory bodies, what also sets Lantern apart is our deep commitment to and involvement in social equity work.

This includes advocacy with state and local governments, our delivery incubator program in MA, industry partnerships, and Lantern team member time spent volunteering to mentor social equity entrepreneurs. It’s a reason why we’re excited to be in this space.

Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Justin Robinson: See the forest through the trees and everyone around you will be way more motivated — that’s a big one for us personally and anyone involved in Lantern. If you’re working for more than just profit, to truly help people build their own businesses, there is nothing more rewarding.

What’s exciting to us is how quickly delivery is pushing the industry to evolve, becoming more mainstream and improving accessibility to a wider range of consumers.

Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Justin Robinson: In the cannabis industry, the pandemic accelerated the shift to e-commerce and delivery. Delivery saw an incredible uptick in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the states where we operate, curbside pickup or delivery were the only ways to purchase, with delivery being the much easier and more convenient way to shop.

We saw average order size increase significantly in March and April as people stocked up due to the uncertainty of whether dispensaries would be allowed to stay open.

In Massachusetts, when recreational dispensaries were closed for a few months, the rate of medical cards being issued also grew dramatically.

Even in emerging markets, consumers’ delivery expectations are influenced by Amazon, Instacart, and meal delivery services.

What’s exciting to us is how quickly delivery is pushing the industry to evolve, becoming more mainstream and improving accessibility to a wider range of consumers.

Jerome Knyszewski: Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

Justin Robinson: Continue to invest in our consumer-facing experience and our delivery technology, which is our first priority. While brands may not be able to beat Amazon or Walmart on speed of delivery, or emerging international competitors on price, they can compete on delivery and win on the depth and quality of experience through personalization.

Today, every business needs to offer some additional consumer value proposition beyond their core service in order to compete.

Emerging industries, like cannabis, are at a precipice as legalization opens up the avenues for innovation, and as technology and access accelerate market maturity.

The evolution, though, is the same as other industries: consumer-focused companies that evolve from industries that are commodity-driven (cannabis), using personalization as a means to streamline their operations and understand their customers, will ultimately deliver experiences that are more in-tune with their needs.

Never has there ever been a winner take all market. The opportunity is to build a best-in-class experience in your vertical, go above and beyond. Cannabis is different from Nerf Guns, dental floss, and dart boards.

It’s a consumable, it’s a new category folks are unfamiliar with, and the regulation is appropriately exhausting. It deserves it’s own marketplace to really scream authority and safety, and that’s what Lantern is here for.

All reviews, good or critical, are equally important and can be equally positive or negative moments for a brand.

Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

Justin Robinson: Creating the referral flywheel is much harder than people expect. Getting trial is very hard, but then getting that customer to refer 2 new customers is what will a) kick your ecommerce business into high gear and b) help to acquire customers profitably. It requires the product being so good that the customer has to tell other people. That’s hard for any business, but especially one designed to exist without any human interaction.

Jerome Knyszewski: One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?

Justin Robinson: All reviews, good or critical, are equally important and can be equally positive or negative moments for a brand. That feedback loop is critical to building consumer trust and credibility. However, it’s how a brand responds to consumer feedback that ultimately determines how elevated or damaged its reputation becomes. It’s always important that a brand is transparent, prompt, sincere and accountable in its response to positive and negative feedback.

The economic model isn’t broken, it just needs more thoughtful, better intentioned leaders and a better educated consumer base. Justin Robinson

Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Justin Robinson: Find ways to start for-profit companies that genuinely help people and balance purpose with profit. I believe that B Corps are the present and future. The economic model isn’t broken, it just needs more thoughtful, better intentioned leaders and a better educated consumer base. We are getting there, but balancing profit with purpose has a pretty good chance of doing the most good.

Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?

Justin Robinson: Check out Lantern on our website here.

Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

 

 

 

The post Justin Robinson’s 3 Tips to Succeed in E-Commerce first appeared on Tekrati and is written by Jerome Knyszewski

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