A design case study on a cannabis delivery app
As a relatively new cannabis user, I wasn’t sure where to begin when Washington State legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Initially I started out by asking budtenders at local dispensaries for their recommendations, but each visit just felt like a normal retail visit when I really hoping to come out of the experience better educated about the available products.
After a couple of visits, I decided to do some research on my own and began to research strains which brought me to Leafly.com — a website that appears to be a crowdsourced encyclopedia for the cannabis industry. Leafly provides users with resources that allow them to research strains, read reviews, see related products, and see what their local dispensaries have to offer.
Ever since I stumbled across Leafly.com, it has become my go-to source in checking out local dispensary offerings before making a trip to the location. I would peruse the menu to see what’s available and make note of a handful of products I’m interested in checking out (decision usually based on THC/CBD composition). From there my usual steps of action are: Show up to the dispensary with cash in hand, let the budtender know what I want, pay for my purchase, and I’m out in usually under 5 minutes.
After repeating these steps a few times on different occasions, an idea dawned on me:
“Wouldn’t it be great if I could place an online order for pickup at the dispensary through Leafly.com?”
Five minutes may not seem like a long time, but a friend in California mentioned that it sometimes takes her anywhere from 20–45 mins depending on wait times (not including drive time).
I decided to do some research:
I checked my local dispensary’s Leafly page and there was no mention of order for pick-up. Interestingly enough, however, their direct website does indeed offer online ordering for pick-ups (powered by www.simplemarijuanamenu.com)…So right now, the chain of events looks like this:
- Go to Leafly.com to view menu offerings (I like to do my research on strains first)
- Go to the dispensary’s website
- Find a participating location for online ordering
- Begin the online ordering process through http://www.simplemarijuanamenu.com (accessible through the dispensary’s site)
- Go to dispensary
- Pick up order
For those who prefer to do research before each visit, that’s a lot of steps! While I don’t particularly mind (as this is still much more convenient than not having online ordering available at all), I started to wonder if there was a way to simplify these steps and improve the overall experience. What if order for pick-up was built into Leafy? Leafly currently offers an automated inventory management API solution for dispensaries, so with a bit more provided effort this has the potential to become a more streamlined solution.
It’s a much better experience for consumers because they can do it on one screen/page and good for Leafly because they’re keeping users on their website and app. Users will likely submit more data and reviews because now Leafly can send users follow up notifications or emails to review recent purchases (Amazon does this). It’s also one less service dispensaries have to manage if they already offer order for pickup.
As a current Leafly.com user, I saw the potential it has in offering dispensaries a streamlined way to manage their inventory and online orders — so I crafted a solution and decided to design the end-user experience for Leafly.com if it were to include an online ordering for pickup feature.
My original goal was to build the concept for Leafly’s desktop website, but my research showed that 75% of Leafly users access the platform on their phone, so I designed the feature for mobile users instead.
Through the experience gained during my time at Designlab’s UX Academy, I approached this project using the Design Thinking process in a self-directed design sprint:
- Discovery — Research similar apps and make note of features and patterns currently being used for the online order for pick-up experience
- Define/Ideate: — Based on gathered research, create an MVP list of features that will be included in the new feature
- Design — Design this new feature (online ordering for pick-up following Leafly’s branding and style
- Prototype + Test: Create a prototype of the fully designed feature to gather usability data and feedback and reiterate on the initial design as needed
While I already had a good sense of how I envisioned this feature to work, I wanted to validate my assumptions with user research.
I gave myself a day to perform research which consisted of a couple interviews with friends who purchase cannabis and a survey that was posted on Reddit and cannabis forums like GrassCity. In addition to user research, I conducted some product research by looking at current order for pickup cannabis apps (Stemless.co and Baker) as well as food ordering services (Postmate and Eat24).
Buying cannabis, in general:
- Location matters the most because users are not going to go out of their way to find a specific product because they usually buy what’s available at whichever dispensary they usually go to.
- Online reviews are not as important when deciding on a strain. Users will tend to rely on recommendations from friends or budtenders.
- A strain’s effects factors heavily into the user’s decision making process.
- Knowing the THC% and CBD% are also very important
- Users prefer all-inclusive pricing (price stated includes tax)
Users who want to try order-for-pick-up or have previously used similar services:
- Out of 84 responses, nearly 50% would consider online ordering for pick-up as a service offered by dispensaries; 10% of the same pool have used a similar service in the past
- Many who have used similar services or would consider the service are interested primarily in convenience and time-saving factors
- Would want a receipt to know what they purchased and reminder. They could use the info later when repurchasing.
Other interesting findings
- A budtender said the medical dispensary she used to work at had clients that would’ve loved to have the option for someone else to pick up their cannabis when it’s difficult for themselves to pick up. This feature would only be available in states where cannabis is readily available both medically and recreationally.
- Hard to find sugar-free edibles (for users with diabetic concerns )
- Some dispensaries currently offer drive-thru pick-up which seems like a natural fit for the solution I’ve designed
*Survey respondents were primarily from Oregon and Washington states. The research performed is not an accurate representation of the entire U.S. cannabis market and was solely conducted for the purposes of this project.
Define & Ideate
The first iteration of my design is a no-frills solution that offers the following features:
- Show strain effects and THC%/CBD% without leaving menu
- Add/remove items from shopping cart
- Shopping cart
- Checkout with phone number
- Additional notes for dispensary
- Email/text receipt
- Remind user to bring ID and Cash
These are the features that will be considered for future versions of this product:
- Coupon codes
- Limit purchase based on state laws
- Allow someone else to pick up (Note: for states where cannabis is only sold to users who hold medical marijuana recommendations, proper rules and regulations would be determined prior to feature launch)
Two Main User Flows
For this project, I only made high-fidelity screens and user flows for the end-user (consumer)…
If I were to design the dispensary user flow, it would look like something like this…
- Dispensary gets order on device after consumer confirms order
- Pulls up order in the Leafy app
- Check off/scan items in order
- Puts in bag, print a barcode or write phone number for order
- Consumer gives the phone number to budtender
- Budtender brings up order with phone number and gets order
- Consumer pays
I kept to Leafly’s branding elements using the same colors, button styles, and patterns. For inspiration, I studied other services that already provide order-for-pick-up solutions in the cannabis space, in addition to online ordering apps and services for food delivery and pick-up
Rather than explaining my design with text, please enjoy this walk-through video I’ve created that illustrates how this new feature would work. (I know…I say ‘click’ instead of ‘tap’ sometimes).
Feel free to check out the Invision prototype as well. Thanks you Invision for updating the Craft plugin so I can make prototypes within Sketch. It’s saved a load of time.
I had to keep reminding myself the whole time as I was designing…don’t make everything pixel perfect till I’m close to my final designs. By making this a habit, I should be able to complete my designs more efficiently in the future.
Also, making that walk-through video helped me with my design presentation and storytelling skills. I practiced at least 5–6 times for each screen and the first screen took at least 15 times. I reduced the the amount of fillers by at least 50%. This will help me in the future for formal design reviews and interviews. I will definitely continue to do this for future projects.