Digital Dispensary Solutions: Online Orders and Loyalty Programs

Due to federal prohibition, cannabis businesses in the United States must conduct cash only operations.. Moreover, state regulations mean these businesses must also track and document every movement of product in their shops. E-commerce represents both an opportunity to expand as well as comply with regulations, offering online sales, product tracking, and improved customer retention.

Ecommerce is now commonplace, but only recently has gained footing in the cannabis industry. New tech may allow cannabis dispensaries to commence online sales, track their products, and better retain customers with an eye toward future mass cannabis acceptance.

Cannabis dispensaries can be plagued with the same troubles other newly regulated industries face. Legal cannabis in previously prohibited markets makes for high demand. This also requires high technical know how with regard to adhering to cannabis retail regulations, cannabis banking, and tracking transactions.

When medical marijuana markets first appeared in the late 1990s, most early dispensaries operated on a cash only basis, and this further complicated their ability to meet regulations, as well as pay taxes correctly. In the last 5 or so years, however, cannabis dispensaries in medical and recreational markets have begun utilizing digital point of sale technology to accept non cash transactions.
Alongside these POS systems, new digital cannabis tracking tech offers a number of applications for both providing quality products, as well as a high standard of service. With apps that streamline digital orders and accept deliveries, marijuana businesses may devote more time to the finer points of their craft, developing potent and useful products.

E commerce will be an ever important venue as the United States nears national cannabis legalization

The Rise of E-Commerce and Cannabis

The Internet offers a potentially large conduit for legal cannabis sales, but Federal prohibition constrains online transactions involving cannabis. Despite this, cannabis businesses have begun implementing applications that will be ready to process online transactions in anticipation of nationwide legalization.

In today’s digital world, more transactions occur online than ever before. According to Statista, ecommerce made up almost 12% of all business sales in 2018, a staggering $514 billion. In terms of cannabis sales, this means that, of the $10.4 billion marijuana market in 2018, Ecommerce sales could potentially number in the $1.24 billion range.

However, while E commerce cannabis sales could reach a billion dollar height, they have been hampered by federal cannabis laws in America, limiting dispensaries to simply listing their products online. At the same time, dispensaries must adhere to statewide cannabis regulations in markets where it is legal, like California and Nevada.

In a 2017 interview with Digital Commerce 360, a Massroots spokeswoman described that selling cannabis online, “would open up an entire new revenue channel and likely significantly accelerate [the cannabis industry’s] growth.”

This growth wouldn’t stop at Ecommerce sales alone. Modern digital retail technology provides many options with potential to improve cannabis businesses’ bottom line, like online ordering for in store pickup, and delivery.

Alejandro Canto, co-founder of Washington’s Diego Pellicer dispensary, estimated that his cannabis store sales may increase 10%-35% with the advent of online purchasing options. Canto believes that, “When [U.S.] federal law changes, this will change the game entirely,” similar to that of Canada, “At that point, the distribution side of the industry will come out and flourish.”  

Currently, when it comes to states with recreational cannabis, no law explicitly prohibits online sales, but most state cannabis laws restrict selling and buying to “specific licensed locations,” according to Taylor West, former deputy director at the National Cannabis Industry Association.

With that said, creative minded cannabis experts and digital developers alike have responded, creating applications to bridge this gap, and offer online order capabilities for in store pickup. Eventually, these apps will allow online transactions, making them potential must haves for future cannabis businesses.

Digital sales feed into store sales and vice versa, apps like Green Light will help dispensaries integrate digital sales for in store pickup

Skipping the Line with Greenlight

Leafbuyer’s Greenlight technology will allow customers to purchase cannabis remotely from their phone, and then pick it up at their local dispensary without having to wait.

On March 13th, 2019, prominent cannabis technology group, Leafbuyer, announced the launch of their proprietary cannabis software, Greenlight, into 25 dispensaries in the Colorado and Oklahoma respective recreational and medical cannabis markets. The accompanying Greenlight mobile app allows patients and customers to pre-order cannabis products for pickup at the participating dispensaries.

By cutting down on wait times with pre ordering, dispensaries with Greenlight technology can greatly improve customer service, while speeding up the flow of in store customers. In a press release regarding the launch, Mark Breen, COO of Leafbuyer, described that the, “The Greenlight initiative in Colorado provides more value to current and potential Leafbuyer clients.”

Leafbuyer’s loyalty program in coordination with Blockchain may help aid dispensaries with customer retention, as well as prepare them for nationwide legalization

The Leafbuyer Loyalty Program

Leafbuyer has integrated their loyalty program into the Greenlight system, allowing customers to track transactions and earn loyalty points from their phone. The loyalty program can improve customer retention, and can easily be altered to include online transactions, looking toward the future of the cannabis industry.

Only one week after launch, on March 21st, 2019, Leafbuyer announced that Greenlight platform users had reached 80,000 in number. In an AP News interview, Kurt Rossner, CEO of Leafbuyer, said he hopes to, “expand the footprint further and optimize this technology to make it a staple in every legal market across the country.”

Furthermore, Rossner expects in the future to, “bring new features to the platform that are expected to be a catalyst for continued revenue growth.” Of these new features, the Greenlight platform recently integrated Leafbuyer’s loyalty program, in coordination with Blockchain.

Leafbuyer loyalty allows customers to create a Blockchain wallet, called the “Leafbuyer Wallet.” Inside this wallet, customers can view their account, track all transaction history, and count their loyalty points. Loyalty points give customers discounts on frequently purchased items from participating dispensaries.

Loyalty programs play a big role in customer retention, as pictured above. Moreover, the integration of the Leafbuyer loyalty program into their Greenlight software via Blockchain means Greenlight has the capability to place online transactions.

Analysts have called the Leafbuyer loyalty integration, “a bridge for cannabis consumers to eventually complete monetary transactions electronically with dispensaries and product companies.” Many speculate this signals that Leafbuyer is looking ahead to nationwide legalization, when online sales may begin in full force.

Online transactions should make a sizable chunk of all future cannabis sales following the end of federal prohibition. Technology like Leafbuyer’s Greenlight platform can help expand the realm of dispensary sales to the vast E marketplace.

About the Author

Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter

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