What Data Can Do For Your Dispensary
I founded Greenbits because I saw a gap in the cannabis industry. In every American state where it’s legal, some degree of cannabis traceability is mandatory. Every piece of cannabis must be tracked across the supply chain – from where it’s grown to where it’s acquired by a patient or consumer. Naturally, this process creates mountains of data. I started Greenbits to help cannabis companies collect, analyze and process that data.
While gathering data on cannabis transactions can be burdensome for cannabis dispensaries and retailers what is often forgotten is the extent to which it can be an asset. By treating customer and patient data like the treasure trove of information that it is and investing in analytics capabilities, cannabis retailers can comfortably comply with state regulations, modernize their inventory management practices and boost their bottom line.
Satisfying State Regulation
In any highly regulated retail industry, compliance is the key to success. The cannabis space is no different. States implement track-and-trace laws so that legal cannabis products do not end up in the hands of minors, so they are not diverted to the illicit market, and so dangerous products are not sold to customers. Retail locations are responsible for stopping that from happening, and if they don’t, face crippling penalties.
Thus, cannabis retailers must know exactly where their product is, how much of it they have on hand, and when they need to re-order to fill stock. In other words, they need to practice bulletproof inventory management. All of the data cannabis dispensaries send to state cannabis regulators to satisfy track-and-trace rules is inventory data. For dispensaries, the better an understanding they have of their inventory data, the easier it will be to comply with regulations. This data can make the difference between a dispensary sinking and swimming.
Last November in California, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) temporarily suspended 63 cannabis retail licenses for failing to comply with track-and-trace rules. In this case, the retailers were able to have their licenses reactivated after completing mandatory training on Metrc, which California requires to facilitate track-and-trace regulation. That said, until the retailers completed this training, they were barred from legally selling cannabis. Even a few days of missed sales can inflict serious pain on a retailer.
A more severe case occurred in Nevada this July when the Cannabis Compliance Board revoked six of the fourteen licenses held by CW Nevada, forcing it to sell the remaining eight to pay its debts. Further, the company was fined $1.25 million. Reportedly, CW Nevada, among other violations, had been storing cannabis that was not accounted for in Metrc, which is also mandatory in Nevada. Though CW Nevada engaged in various types of illicit behavior, it provides an example of how seriously states take failure to comply with track-and-trace requirements. Dispensaries would be well served by heeding this example and treating inventory data with a great deal of care.
A Data-Driven Approach to Cannabusiness
Apart from cannabis retail inventory data serving as a necessary means for dispensaries to comply with track-and-trace rules, it can also drive business for retailers. A cannabis retailer’s customers generate invaluable data with every purchase. Rather than just allowing that data to lie stagnant in its state’s required platform, retailers should seize the opportunity sitting in front of their eyes.
This retail data creates a meaningful window into the mind of consumers. It can help retailers understand which types of cannabis and cannabis products are well-liked by consumers and which aren’t worth stocking the shelves with, creating an opportunity to capitalize on their habits. The data can even be used by retailers to chart out individual customers’ purchasing habits, giving them an advantage over competitors. If a dispensary can determine when its regular customers are looking for new or different products, it can over-deliver on their expectations, and foster even stronger loyalty. That loyalty can translate into customers stopping in more regularly, telling their friends to check the retailer out, and at the end of the day, more business.
Investing in Analytics
These two uses for retail cannabis data are two sides of the same coin. Currently, the cannabis industry is aware that comprehensively collecting and recording this data is requisite, that much is clear. However, they can be doing more with this invaluable commodity.
The key to unlocking the full potential of this data is to invest resources in analytics capabilities, such as those offered by Greenbits. Given that retailers are already collecting this data, making this step is a natural and sensible decision that will guarantee their business decisions are well informed. Of course, any use of data should be privacy-respecting and only serve to enhance consumer experience, as opposed to being creepy and invasive. It’s a fine line, and consumers reject brands that track them wantonly more than ever before.