LDB readies for online sales of non-medical cannabis, secures distribution centre

    The Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) has selected Shopify Inc. to provide an ecommerce platform for the online sale of non-medical cannabis to the public.

    LDB’s online store is expected to launch in early fall, to provide British Columbians with access to non-medical cannabis, once legalized on Oct. 17, 2018.

    “Shopify was chosen for its proven record of on-time execution, user-friendly design and long-term approach to anticipating consumer needs beyond the implementation phase,” said Blain Lawson, LDB’s general manager and CEO. “Every decision we make, as we introduce cannabis to our business, is underpinned by the social responsibility we have to our communities, to prevent minors from accessing cannabis, to reduce the criminal element, and to prioritize the health and safety of our customers.”

    The selection of Shopify, and its Cloud-based software solution, follows an extensive review and evaluation of respondents to a request for proposal posted on BC Bid earlier this year. To be selected, Shopify had to meet a comprehensive list of requirements, including:

    • The creation of two separate websites to fulfill online orders: one for consumers, and another for private retail stores;
    • The enabling of age verification on the BC Cannabis Stores’ retail website;
    • LDB’s various systems, including its warehouse management system; and
    • Supporting a technology- and service-driven customer care centre.

    To help protect youth from accessing non-medical cannabis products, additional age verification of online orders will be performed by the courier service at the time of delivery to valid addresses within British Columbia. At-store pickup of online orders is being considered for the future.

    The LDB has secured a location for its distribution centre to accommodate the wholesale supply of non-medical cannabis. The 6,500 square-metre (70,000 square-foot) facility, located on No. 6 Road in Richmond, will include a dedicated customer care call-in centre that caters to private retail store operators, BC Cannabis Stores and the provincial online store.

    The LDB expects to employ about 130 staff in its distribution centre, across its logistics, shipping and receiving, customer-care and maintenance departments.

    Measures will be undertaken to guarantee the security and quality of all products stored in the facility, including regular inventory review and stock rotation. A modern warehouse management system will capture and manage product information, such as expiry dates and lot numbers. Licensed producers will be responsible for quality testing and pre-packaging their products, before shipping them directly to the LDB’s distribution centre.

    As legalization approaches, the LDB has been, and will continue, to undertake significant hiring and training to establish a dedicated cannabis operations team across retail, digital, supply chain, distribution and corporate environments.

    Quick facts:

    • The BC Liquor Distribution Branch will be the sole wholesale distributor, and the public retailer, of non-medical cannabis in B.C.
    • As with its liquor business, the LDB is committed to promoting the responsible use of cannabis, through extensive social responsibility campaigns in all of its retail store locations.
    • Employment opportunities related to the LDB’s cannabis operations can be viewed online: https://www.bcldbcannabisupdates.com/opportunities/careers