Verifying IDs for Age-Restricted Goods

Age-restricted goods retailers of cannabis, vaping products, and adult beverages face several hurdles in meeting state standards and making sure their goods are safely delivered. One thing they shouldn’t have to worry about are ID checks– making sure that those they’re selling to aren’t only who they say they are, but that they’re also of age.

While most businesses that retail age-restricted products online have some form of ID checks in place, the vast majority of them can be difficult to understand, take too long to verify someone’s identity, or mistakenly approve fake IDs. Still, age-restricted goods retailers need an ID verification solution to stay compliant– so what are they to do?

What ID check options are out there?

ID verification is nothing new, and there are many different ways to ID check a potential customer. Companies can check someone’s ID in person or verify their information online. 

In-person ID checks

Like the name suggests, checking someone’s ID in person involves having an employee manually review the ID. The review can happen at the place of business or at the delivery location, depending on if the company delivers the age-restricted good.

Many companies believe manual, in-person ID checks to be one of the most cost effective forms of ID verification. While not having any upfront costs, this method does open businesses to many vulnerabilities. 

Unless an employee knows what to look for, it may be difficult for them to verify that someone’s ID is legitimate. It’s easier than ever to purchase a legitimate-looking ID online for relatively cheap. And for IDs from states that have fewer security features (such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania), it can be even more difficult to know what to look for to determine if an ID is fake. 

In addition to opening up your business to potential liabilities by mistakenly accepting underage customers, waiting to check IDs in person during a delivery can put drivers at risk. Users can put any name and age they’d like in an application, and the business won’t know if the person is legitimate until the driver is already at the location– leaving them vulnerable to robbery by an unidentified individual. In fact, keeping delivery drivers safe is named one of the top challenges facing cannabis businesses.

Online ID verification

While asking a customer to complete the ID verification process online means the customer can do so in the comfort of their own home, many ID check solutions are still no more dependable than in-person ID checks. This is because many online ID verification solutions still rely on a person behind a screen to manually verify the ID– which can take even more time than manually verifying in person. And the ones that don’t often have overly involved, difficult processes with unclear instructions– leading to rejection due to user error. The more difficult the ID verification process is, the less likely the customer will complete the transaction. Cart abandonment costs ecommerce companies over $18 billion a year. Businesses are far less likely to deal with cart abandonment when they make the checkout– and ID verification– process as frictionless as possible.

What to look for in an ID verification solution

As the number of online delivery cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco companies continue to expand, businesses can no longer simply differentiate by what they sell. The ID verification process is just as much of a selling point when it comes to age-restricted goods.

However you decide to verify IDs, here are some important considerations to make:

  1. Instant solution

Whether in person or online, an instant ID verification solution gives your customer the results of their ID check immediately– no matter where you put the ID verification step in the purchasing process. This means that if, for any reason, their ID or information is rejected, they’ll know immediately and can correct any issues due to user error without having to restart the entire transaction. Instant solutions also help prevent cart abandonment as legitimate customers have a more pleasant buying experience and illegitimate customers trying to purchase with a fake ID are rejected immediately without wasting any of your time.

  1. Automated solution

ID checks are a simple yet critical step of the purchasing process. Regulations for age-restricted goods can be different across state lines, and the IDs themselves can look vastly different with different security features. Keeping up-to-date with all of this means less time for employees to focus on growing the business– and also a greater chance for user error. An automated ID verification solution checks IDs much faster than a manual check (decreasing wait times and improving the customer experience), and also gives businesses the added peace of mind that they’re staying compliant without having to constantly stay on top of that themselves. Automated ID verification solutions can be online or in person, giving businesses the flexibility to choose when they’d like to check someone’s ID.

And for businesses that don’t want to remove a human touch altogether, many automated solutions have options for manual checks, such as when an ID is rejected.

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  1. Metrics

There’s more to ID checks than just checking if the ID is fake or not. Forward-thinking businesses should leverage an ID verification solution that includes metrics so they can track and see where the bulk of their fraud is coming from, what types of fraud they’re encountering, and more. Knowing what kinds of fraud your business regularly comes in contact with helps you make more informed decisions– fighting fraud proactively instead of reactively.

This type of decision making is just one of the things that can help keep employees– such as delivery drivers– safe.

  1. Implementation

An ID check solution can have all the bells and whistles possible, but it doesn’t mean anything if it takes months to implement. When vetting an ID check solution, it’s important to see how this will fit into your existing workflow– including what integrations are possible, what onboarding looks like, and what type of support options you’ll have if something goes wrong.

Questions like these will help you determine when you’ll be able to roll out the solution throughout your organization.

How to get started

There are many different ways to roll out an instant and automated ID verification solution. Small businesses who check less than 100 IDs a month will most likely be able to roll out an ID verification solution on their own. Larger organizations, however, will most likely need to work with the solution provider to create an implementation plan to ensure a smooth deployment.

Our ebook, Checking the IDs of Age-Restricted Goods Customers, has more information on how an age-restricted goods company rolled out an ID verification solution. Check out the ebook to ensure your deployment will be just as effective.