Riverside Wellness opened in the Kansas City, Missouri area in May and is already researching the medical cannabis dispensary for ways to expand patient access, including drive-thru and home delivery services.
Co-owner and Chief Operating Officer Mary Ann Denzer is from Missouri but worked in a testing laboratory in Colorado for two years after the state started selling cannabis for adults.
Denzer returned home just before Missouri voters approved medical cannabis legalization in the November 2018 election and joined a group of applicants who eventually received a pharmacy license in the state.
“We have a really nice mix of trying to connect the roots of cannabis with the future of cannabis, to make sure we stay true to our origins … but also [looking at] Future and how we can serve our patients as effectively as possible, ”Denzer told Cannabis Dispensary.
Riverside Wellness is a company owned by women, veterans and minorities that, according to Denzer, is based on three pillars: friendliness, accountability and responsibility. The company was founded during the COVID-19 pandemic, which led the team to think about how to reach patients safely.
The pharmacy opened with an operational drive-thru window and launched home delivery services earlier this month.
RELATED: Missouri Medical Cannabis Dispensaries Begin Implementing Delivery Services
Riverside Wellness aims to give patients the same experience whether they shop in-store or online, Denzer said, and the company has implemented an online ordering system that allows patients to shop and pay for their products in one place.
The pharmacy strives to provide as much information as possible through its online menu so that patients can see the differences between the product offerings.
“In online stores in other industries, outside of cannabis, you can get all of this consumer information to help you with your purchase decision, and you don’t always get that with cannabis, especially in newer markets,” said Denzer. “It is difficult to formulate concrete effects or potential effects [online] because we are not medical professionals and we cannot give medical advice. How do you describe a product to a patient to help them understand the experience they will get without making a promise? … It was a development process. … We want to give them as much as possible so that they feel comfortable with every step. “
Photo courtesy of Riverside Wellness
Riverside Wellness opened with an operational drive-thru window in May and launched a home delivery service earlier this month.
Collecting payments online is another challenge, she added.
“One of the rules in Missouri is that cannabis can’t leave the pharmacy if it’s not paid for, so it has to be paid for in advance,” she said. “That was an interesting dilemma that had to be resolved because of the banking and financial regulations on cannabis. Finding a debit card processor can be difficult at times. You certainly can’t process credit cards right now. We needed a bank-to-bank transfer that was both legal and easy to use. “
The company has partnered with Arrow Payments, which, according to Denzer, enables bank-to-bank transfers comparable to Venmo or PayPal.
Other government regulations require patients to be home at the time of delivery, and the delivery driver must verify the patient’s government issued ID and medical cannabis card.
Riverside Wellness also offers discounts as part of its Compassionate Care program. The Angel discount is available to low-income patients and the Hero discount is available to community first responders. In-store, patients can present identification – such as a business card or low-income patient ID – to qualify for these discounts.
“You can note it in your account when you place your online order,” said Denzer. “Then our managers check the email, make sure we got it. [and] If not, we’ll give them a call and work through this process with them. “
In the future, Denzer would like the Riverside Wellness online system to upload ID cards and other documents.
“We need them to improve these solutions in a year,” she said. “We learned a lot in this first year and need partners who are willing to learn and grow with us. … We are very aware that in a year we will have a lot more solutions, but right now we need a little more manpower to offer this level of service and that is fine with us. “
The pharmacy has an FAQ section on their website that explains step-by-step what patients can expect from online ordering and delivery to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
“We’re really trying to build the entire website to communicate with our patients to make sure they are happy with the entire process from start to finish,” said Denzer. “We’ll also call them before they get the shipment to confirm they understand what’s going to happen. If you have any questions, please let us know. “
Riverside Wellness will be launching a new website in the next week or so to better cater to online shoppers looking for delivery services that Denzer believes will continue to grow in popularity in the cannabis industry.
“I don’t know why someone wouldn’t deliver,” she said. “I think it’s going to be huge. I think people stop coming to the store after a while, having been there once and knowing what they want, especially if COVID is still going on.
Many Riverside Wellness customers shop in person at the pharmacy on their first visit, said Denzer, in order to experience the in-store experience since the market launch in October.
RELATED: A look at the two Missouri pharmacies that started the state’s first sales of medical cannabis
“Many customers in the store use online ordering and the drive-thru window as soon as they are comfortable,” she said. “I have a feeling that we will see a lot of this during the delivery as well. You want the in-store experience because it’s new to Missouri so it’s super exciting to go to the pharmacy for the first time, but after a while you get the … delivery. “
Riverside Wellness also serves many elderly and mobility impaired patients who may have difficulty getting to the pharmacy to shop, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Online ordering and delivery have now become an integral part, and we are getting used to it more and more in all areas,” says Denzer. “I don’t understand why cannabis should be any different from anything else. The world has changed and we want to change with it. “