retail Archives - Green Market Report

Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtJanuary 31, 2019
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9min6630

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

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.

Springbig

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

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

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

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.


Debra BorchardtDebra BorchardtNovember 28, 2017
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4min12390

Cyber Monday may have become the biggest shopping day for traditional retail, but bricks continue to rule the day for the cannabis industry. Cannabis software company Baker tallied up its sales results for the past holiday weekend and Black Friday was the big winner. Sales did rise for Cyber Monday, but it came in third place when compared to Wednesday and Friday.

Cart values rose 11% for Cyber Monday for the dispensaries that Baker works with as order volume increased 746% versus a typical Monday. “Almost every single dispensary client of ours across 15 states ran a promotion yesterday around Cyber Monday and customers responded extremely well to it,” said Baker CEO Joel Milton. “We even had clients launch online ordering in the last few weeks to prepare for this past weekend and they saw instant returns!”

Green Wednesday or Weed Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) is still a big trigger for sales and came in second place. Milton noted that last year Baker talked about how people geared up for the holidays with cannabis and the data proves this trend is still ongoing. “We saw online orders rise 774% from our dispensaries with the order sizes and average carts, up 13.6% compared with a typical Wednesday,” he said.

However, Black Friday will now get named Green Friday since it seemed to come out on top and broke records. The average online cart was a whopping $105 with double-digit growth. Baker saw a 568% increase in orders over a typical Friday, the busiest day of a standard week.  Almost every dispensary from its 700+ clients ran a Green Friday promotion, on par with general retail “Black Friday” sales, and the promotions brought cart sizes way up.

The trend in traditional retail found that year over year in-store traffic actually fell on Black Friday as online sales posted almost a 20% growth. The cannabis industry so far has bucked that trend. Even with the majority of dispensaries closed on Thanksgiving, from Weed Wednesday through Cyber Monday, Baker recorded record-breaking stats from its loyalty program with the highest usage of new and repeat customers over the 6 day period ever, while online growth powered by Baker posted even larger gains!

The data supports the efforts by the cannabis industry to go mainstream and normalize in states where it is legal. Dispensaries continue to break records during the holidays as shoppers mostly make their trips to physical stores. Yet, technology is ubiquitous with shopping and so even cannabis consumers are finding ways to incorporate online shopping with cannabis consumption.

“We are also seeing the rise of e-commerce disrupting general retail and even dispensaries,” said Milton. “The engagement rates illuminate how consumers are using technology to beat lines and shop for goods online, and Baker is empowering the cannabis industry retailers with this tool.”

 Dispensaries and their online menus are becoming a destination for many shoppers around Thanksgiving, right next to Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon.


Ken NischKen NischSeptember 12, 2017
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4min17951

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are facing major challenges due to ease of credit cards, federal postal services, and potentially even other types of shippers. This has made the cannabis industry essentially immune to the challenges that other physical retailers have. This doesn’t mean that marijuana retailers don’t need to be experiential or try harder, but rather it suggests that the physical store experience can be a primarily offensive direction in order to create brand awareness and dominance, versus substantially being defensive as it is for most retail today in trying to counter-impact the online business.

Also new to the cannabis category in the aspect of retail is individual vs “branded house” product. Think of the spice section in your local grocery store with red caps of the iconic McCormick brand dominating, rather than the individual flavor profiles themselves dominating. Cannabis started out with the contrary, with the flavor and experience profile of the individual product defining it rather than a dominant brand umbrella defining it. However, this contrast with cannabis where the flavor profile is the brand, and the sense of origin, etc. comes secondary, has been changing rapidly now with the growth of celebrity and lifestyle branding. Think Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech and Chong, Willie Nelson, etc. where the flavor profile is through the eyes of Willie, Whoopi, and Cheech. This represents a big change in the industry where ultimately certain brands will be common across distributors and retailers versus each individual retailer essentially creating their own “special sauce” unique to their environment. With the advent of cross retailer branding, the individual brand of the retailer will become more critical (versus relied on price or uniqueness to drive the consumer from a destination standpoint).

Important in terms of future growth will be a key and differentiated brand identity. As legalization continues to become more flexible and market driven, formats such as shop-in-shop concepts as well as event and lifestyle pop-up concepts (cannabis meets food truck, etc.) will arise. Cannabis will grow into other delivery spaces for pet, spa and treatment applications; home furnishings; and luxury accessories and consumables. Today’s fairly cut and dry approach to reception, consulting, selection and transaction will become more complicated (in a positive way), impacting everything from staffing to seasonality, to requirements for flexibility beyond today‘s primarily transactional environment.

Due to many cases of landlord reluctance, particularly national landlords, to accommodate companies within the cannabis space, they’ve often been relegated to second or third tier locations, industrial parks, or the capital intensive activity of purchasing or building a freestanding facility. The next generation of locations will most likely become part of lifestyle assortments, like adjacencies such as Lululemon, Whole Foods, the local gym, etc. with the cannabis retailer to be a welcome and lifestyle appropriate co-tenant to many of the national tenants, particularly in the wellness, leisure and food segments.

Society has already made a significant change in the perception of cannabis as a medication, and as perceptions continue to evolve in the world of cannabis through the rest of 2017, the brick-and-mortar concept has been integral to the movement. Thus, allowing the public access to these products in an entirely new type of space. The design concept of the physical environment provides the retail dispensary model an opportunity to create interactive experiences, as well as personal connections. The mental perception shift in medical and recreational clients alike will continue to open a door to societal growth and appreciation of cannabis.



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