New cannabis dispensary tech will allow patients and customers to take a stroll inside a virtual weed store, where they can learn more about available products and preorder to cut down on wait times.
The doors opened at Solevo Wellness, one of Pennsylvania’s first medical marijuana dispensaries, on February 15th, 2018, the operational launch day for the state’s program. Excited patients packed into a relatively large waiting room, anxious to make their first purchases.
Quickly, patients filled the several rows of chairs and a few couches lining the reception area. Eventually, it became standing room only. Even so, a light, triumphant mood emanated from the space. After fighting hard to have their voices heard, patients and caregivers were finally able to obtain their needed medicine legitimately.
Diana Briggs, mother of Ryan Briggs, who suffers from untreatable epilepsy, made the historic first purchase in the state.
Only 2 years earlier, Diana famously stood on capitol hill in Harrisburg, holding a large sign with thousands of smartie candies attached, visually depicting the amount of pills Ryan used to control his seizures unsuccessfully during the 10 months a senate passed medical cannabis bill languished on the house floor. When she made her son’s purchase, she cried.
New medical marijuana patients and recreation enthusiasts often have lot of questions during the buying process, which can create long wait times at dispensaries.
Marijuana for medicine had been illegal in Pennsylvania since the late 1930s, and people were excited to purchase cannabis for medicine legally again. However, with so many eager patients, there were many growing pains. Product shortages, and long wait times colored these early months of medical cannabis sales in the keystone state.
New patients have a lot of questions about medical cannabis, which can take up a good portion of the available staff’s time. When patients outnumber staff nearly 15 to 1, as they did on that day in February, delays are likely.
Not soon after the first marijuana sales began, dispensaries like Solevo Wellness introduced a “fast track” lane, for patients who knew ahead of time what type of cannabis they wanted, and didn’t need to have a long consultation. Even then, the dispensary still sees up to 25 minute waits times today, due mostly to processing payments into PAs medical marijuana database.
But what if we could get people’s eyes and ears into the dispensary without ever leaving the house? Could this possibly shorten wait times?
Enter virtual reality cannabis dispensary previews.
Cannabis dispensary VR will allow patients to view and read about various medical products, helping them become more familiar with cannabis and the buying process.
With a VR headset, patients and customers alike will be able to access their dispensary, and view and order available products.
Virtual reality cannabis dispensaries are here, and they may revolutionize cannabis product selection, and help streamline cannabis dispensary customer service for both medicine and recreation.
On March 12th, 2019, Nex Tech AR Services announced their new, augmented reality, or AR, dispensary experience. The AR dispensary will allow potential customers to preview products through a VR headset application. From there, they can learn about the effects different forms produce, and even pre order their desired purchase, with delivery and pick up options available.
Nex Tech’s CEO, Evan Gappelberg, described his thinking behind the AR dispensary, stating that, “When people are planning to make a purchase both in-store and online, many [use] the internet to research products to ensure they're making the right purchasing decision...why should cannabis be any different?”
Nex Tech accomplishes this feat by using high detail, 3D digital photography of a dispensary and products. The AR dispensary will empower newer cannabis users and patients alike to educate themselves, as well as familiarize themselves with their local store’s layout, and, if in a medical state, the patient admission process.
With recreational cannabis expected to halve medical cannabis’ market share by 2025, AR dispensaries could become more common
Nex Tech AR has the capability to address the needs of both medical and recreational cannabis markets. Not only will the AR dispensary help educate people about available cannabis products, but it will help them streamline the sales process, cutting down on wait times.
“Whether a dispensary’s goal is to educate customers on potential health benefits of cannabis or simply to increase sales,” Gappelburg maintains, “AR Dispensary provides the interactive online experience consumers crave that drives brand loyalty and awareness.”
E Commerce is an ever expanding industry, just like cannabis
AR has been integrated into other retail markets, like clothing, and can be implemented for a dispensary quite easily
Nex Tech’s VR service isn’t hard to implement.
The digital nature of the AR dispensary technology allows dispensary owners to easily troubleshoot what they need, be it conforming with a statewide system, like PA, or recreational delivery, like California. Gappelberg describes his services as, “scalable, customizable and, most importantly, easy to integrate within an existing web interface.”
Moreover, the technology doesn’t cost the cannabis retailer anything on the patient’s end. They don’t need to bring tablets into their stores, like traditional digital dispensary integration, and customers don’t need to be computer buffs to handle the technology.
All customers must do is download the app and obtain a compatible VR headset. With the growing popularity of VR, as well as the ever interconnectedness of the digital age, VR headsets aren’t hard to come by. Even a $20 headset can get the job done.
Digital integration isn’t new, either. Nex Tech has created other consumer software, called Try It On AR, that allow users to digitally try on clothing items like glasses and hats using facial recognition software.
Translated to an AR dispensary, “trying on” cannabis could mean potentially sampling cannabis “digitally” by grinding it up and rolling it into a joint, and watching it lit to see how evenly the cannabis burns, all in virtual reality, before the purchase. During this “test burn,” terpene profiles and content levels could pop on the screen.
Gappelberg describes that, “one of the most significant pain points that remains in online retail for a consumer is the inability to try something on before they buy it.” His augmented reality systems, “[eliminate] the issue.” For dispensaries, this means the ability for customers to really see their product before purchase, up close, which is what AR dispensaries will provide.
Instead of every curious patient waiting to talk with bud tenders, like what happened at Solevo Wellness, patients could answer most of their questions via the AR dispensary. Even if they still have questions, they will be more familiar with the products and store layout, and should be better able to direct their query, cutting down on wait times.
Get your VR headset ready, because virtual reality weed isn’t just a highdea anymore.
Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. 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