Licenses for cannabis operators are multiplying as fast as the plants can be grown. According to Cannabiz Media, in the fourth quarter, the state of Connecticut doubled their dispensaries from nine to 18 and Oklahoma went on a license issuing frenzy. By the end of 2018, the Sooner state issued 805 dispensary licenses, 1,302 growers and 341 processors.
They are dwarfed by California which has almost doubled its licenses since November. The state has 10,940 active licenses, although Ed Keating the co-founder of Cannabiz Media noted that only a few dozen are annual licenses. In comparing licenses issued by activity, many categories almost doubled like distributor at 198%, manufacturer at 188%, and cultivator at 178% and retailers increased by 58%.
As more states legalize adult use sales, cannabis is becoming a rapidly growing market that topped $8.5 billion in spending in 2017 and will nearly reach $11 billion in 2018 and then push past $23 billion by 2022.
In Colorado, there were 509 retail dispensaries. Washington State has 514 and Oregon has 561. The numbers continue to grow as more states like Michigan, New York, and New Jersey begin planning for legalized adult use sales. As a result of this, being on the front line and customer facing is seen as the sweet spot for many companies. These are some of the top consumer-facing retail technology cannabis companies in the industry today.
Headset is the top retail data provider. This company captures consumer purchasing data at the point of sale in real time. Producers can use the data to learn what is and isn’t selling and determine consumer preferences. For example, when it comes to cannabis edibles, gummies are the big winner in Colorado, while mints are the product of choice in Washington. The retailers can also mine this data to track inventory levels and learn what their customers prefer. Do they like sweet or sour flavors?
Dispensary owners can also use the past performance data to predict future buying habits. If the upcoming Valentine’s holiday demonstrated a big jump in chocolate sales, then the owner can make sure they are stocked up.
Headset recently completed a Series A funding round of $12.1 million. This money will go towards improving current products and services and expanding the company’s offerings to additional U.S. states and international markets. It will also help the company serve new customers from the consumer packaged goods, beverage/alcohol, and financial industries, who are taking an increased interest in cannabis.
Dispensaries can’t advertise in traditional methods and the customers probably wouldn’t respond to traditional ads anyway. Springbig is able to capitalize on this by helping dispensary owners reach customers in loyalty programs through text messaging. Everybody loves to be rewarded and find bargains when shopping and cannabis consumers are no different. Earning points for purchases motivates customers to stick with their favorite stores.
The data also helps owners get more sales and it also lets them analyze what works best with their customers. The company said that dispensaries that use Springbig found that their customers spent more and that revenue increased by 25%. The company can even drill down into the customer’s preference and then only send targeted promotions. For example, if a consumer only wants flower, then they won’t be sent promotions for edibles if that is what they prefer.
Seed is an in-store cannabis educator. With interactive touch screens, customers can easily get answers to their questions, which frees up the dispensary employees time. The company was developed to help the dispensary staff and also give the customer a nonjudgmental way to learn more about the products. Of course, the ultimate idea is to sell more product, but dispensaries are such a new experience for many people and the products are mostly unfamiliar. There is a huge learning curve and if you can ask your questions through a cool interactive touch screen, that seems easier than taking up 20 minutes of a budtenders time if there is a line of people waiting.
The units are integrated with the dispensaries inventory so once the customer goes through the touch screen to see what it is they want, the Seed is programmed to suggest items that are in stock. Having said that the company says it remains focused on education more than pushing a product. It isn’t a pay to play model such that one product can pay to be recommended over another.
Flowhub is the behind the counter solution for dispensary owners. This point-of-sale software is sold as a compliance solution to dispensaries. Flowhub includes a small handheld mobile device called a Nug to help speed up daily operations like scanning barcodes, checking in customers, and auditing inventory. The software gives managers complete control over their data, allowing them to generate inventory discrepancy reports and make adjustments before submitting via an API. Customers can also opt for the company’s free loyalty software that is included.
The system is also tightly synced up to METRC — the track and trace system used in most legal cannabis markets — making compliance really easy in those markets. At this time, it isn’t aligned with MJ Freeway or BioTrack, but that is expected to happen as the company expands into other markets. Flowhub is a little different from the others because it provides an open source option. This lets customers with a high level of technical knowledge customize the software for their needs. A tech nerd’s delight.
KlickTrack is the new kid on the block after a beta launch in September. Co-founder Brendan Hill (of Blues Travelers fame) said it addresses common issues and pain points that the founders themselves experienced when they tried various software solutions as owners and operators of Paper and Leaf, a retail cannabis boutique, located on Bainbridge Island in Washington state. After years of frustration with non-integrated systems, they developed KlickTrack as a synchronized ecosystem, saving retailers time and money.
KlickTrack co-founder Steve Kessler said, “We created this system from inside a working retail shop from the ground up. We teamed with world-class developers, using a proprietary translator to solve industry-wide problems. KlickTrack removes the compliance worries from retailers and allows them to focus on running their business and having access to real-time actionable data.”
The company said it gives retailers the ability to easily view and manage inventory and offer their products organized by brand. It reduces inventory redundancies, speeds up workflow and enables retailers to maintain customer service on high traffic days. It provides real-time insights into all sales metrics, allowing retailers the ability to analyze historical customer and product data. The compliance translator ties directly into state regulatory systems and the company said it virtually eliminates the risk of fines and violations.