As governments respond to the evolving coronavirus pandemic, the global cannabis industry is navigating a constantly changing landscape. Many businesses must adjust operations or update policies, typically on short notice, to comply with changing regulations. More often than not, these changes can be executed with the help of advanced technology solutions that cater specifically to the complex needs of a cannabis business. The legal cannabis industry is coming of age in the middle of a technology revolution.
While retailers’ technology is often hidden in the backend of administrative or business operations, cannabis technology platforms and solutions can be a driving force behind merchants’ ability to grow their businesses, meet surging demands on a dime and adapt to new regulations. Below, I touch on a number of critical functions and areas in which technology can give businesses the leg up that they need while arguing that education for budtenders is one area where better-leveraged technology can help the industry add more value for customers and drive more sales.
In an era when demand for state-legalized, adult-use cannabis is consistently surging, companies must simplify and enhance consumers’ retail experiences. Covid-19 has altered the cannabis retail landscape forever with calls for solutions that will keep store teams and customers safe that do not require visiting a store in-person to make a purchase. Curbside, in-store pickup and delivery make up a new ordering standard that most consumers now not only expect but also demand. To meet these needs, cannabis companies can incorporate scalable, quick-to-implement technology to help streamline a lot of the heavy lifting, so business owners can instead focus on keeping both their customers and staff safe while providing modern online shopping options that customers now expect.
Technology is also a critical component for lending and wholesale distribution. Online platforms can help cannabis retailers streamline ordering, reporting, fulfillment and more. Brands and distributors that leverage these tools can order products or request samples while gaining access to thousands of purchasing managers. These tools can help eliminate costly paper-based errors through digitization that can cost businesses valuable resources and time.
Sales And Customer Relations Management
Similarly, cannabis retailers can implement comprehensive solutions to help manage inventory, point-of-sale, customer relations management and compliance with mission-critical tools. Modern, digital solutions can offer highly customizable and easy-to-scale technology so retailers — from small businesses to larger multi-state operations — can better manage inventory, drive sales, facilitate customer transactions and improve the overall customer experience.
Human Capital Management
Cannabis businesses have access to providers that offer services for human capital management, including hosting career development and hiring networks for hiring managers to scout talent and for prospective employees to find employers. These types of platforms that most job seekers expect to use feature various job postings that span roles across cultivation, finance, IT, sales and more.
Technology For Education
Looking forward, technology can continue to be infused to support other critical functions of the cannabis industry. One opportunity area for technology to play a larger role is in education. Budtenders’ product knowledge is foundational for customer satisfaction, but it remains one of the biggest voids in the space. When a customer walks into a dispensary, they often don’t know what they want, and a budtender is there to help make recommendations. As the often first point of contact, it is important these workers possess a breadth of knowledge about the products in their store and also from competitors.
While some traditional courses already exist, the industry could further benefit from the widespread adoption of technology-enabled curriculum to incentivize brands and budtenders to ensure accurate knowledge about the various strains and products they are offering customers, which can drive more sales and improve the overall customer experience.
Despite the notion that the cannabis industry will only suffer from the coronavirus outbreak’s economic impact, technology could be the lifeblood that cannabis businesses and the industry at large needs to continue to grow and innovate. Many retailers currently lack but need the proper technological infrastructure and resources to scale operations and meet persistent demands. By strategically procuring and implementing the right tools and taking advantage of potential opportunities, merchants could thrive and perhaps win the battle against the illicit market.
Published: July 14, 2020
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