- Jordan Hobson
New Technologies Affecting Oklahoma Dispensaries
If your Oklahoma dispensary is profitable and thriving, it can be easy to congratulate yourself and relax. However, a smart cannabis business owner knows that current success does not guarantee a bright future. New consumer trends, cutting-edge technologies, and state requirements (is your POS integrated with METRC?) are coming fast. To increase your chance of success, you need to educate yourself and plan ahead!
A Whole New Game
It really wasn’t that long ago that Oklahoma was just welcoming the passage of OK SQ 788. Cannabis enthusiasts across the state gathered in celebration of what many born-and-raised Okies (including this one!) never thought would be possible in the Sooner state. Fortunately, medical cannabis access became a reality with the near landslide passage of OK SQ 788 and has been flourishing ever since – so much so that Oklahoma is among the top five hottest marijuana markets in the USA.
With market growth comes new customer requests and expectations creating immense and sometimes very competitive business landscapes. Oklahoma dispensaries operating within the cannabis industry face challenges not too different from what Starbucks, HBO, and Chick-fil-A experience on a daily basis. Consumers in today’s marketplace are becoming more and more discerning on every level, and their expectations are continuing to rise. Gone are the days where Starbucks can simply rely on just offering you a tasty cup of coffee, HBO can settle for live stream shows/movies only with no “on-demand” option, or Chick-fil-A can simply offer a delicious chicken sandwich. All these companies and their competitors are taking convenience to a whole new level, which in turn, has elevated all consumer expectations.
Although we still love the taste of a fresh cup of Joe from Starbucks, relish catching the first run of the latest season from “Ballers” or another HBO staple before all the ‘DVR’ers’ get to it, or just get down on some of Chick-fil-A’s famous chicken, we want more. As educated (and dare I say ‘trained’) consumers, we simply expect more than a great product and excellent customer service. It could be argued that in today’s competitive environment, unique products and outstanding customer service are not the “key ingredients for success,” as once touted, but instead simply the initial and foundational requirements for success.
Prominent brands like Amazon, McDonalds, and Disney differentiate themselves (and their commodities) from the rest by adding exceptional technologies so consumers can easily access their products and services anywhere/anytime. The most sought after and distinguishable cannabis dispensaries in Oklahoma and throughout the USA are also recognizing these trends and adapting to today’s consumer expectations.
Customers WANT to learn more about YOUR BRAND
Connecting with consumers today extends far beyond providing a great in-store experience. Brands are going to previously unimaginable efforts to attract our attention and gain our following. Companies are connecting with their customers and followers through a variety of technologies including text messaging, social media, and personalized apps.
According to business.com, 75% of consumers are asking for mobile updates from their favorite companies. The cannabis consumer is no exception. They are quickly becoming more discerning and aggressively looking not only for products they love and a comfortable dispensary to shop at but also for ways to connect with their favorite brands throughout their lives on their own schedules.
Savvy marketers and business owners are introducing ways that allow their offerings to become more of a lifestyle experience that their customers engage with in some way almost daily. For example, dispensaries utilizing their own custom apps gain the ability to essentially ‘live with’ their customers at all times. Whenever the customer wants to place an order, access their loyalty points, redeem a reward, update their personal shopping preferences, or review promotions, all they need to do is open up the dispensary’s custom app and engage.
98% Text Messages Opened Within Three Minutes
Think about it. How many times do you look at your phone every day? Be honest. You hear that ‘ding’ and feel that phone buzz in your pocket and you just can’t help yourself — I know I am guilty! Do you think it is it 10, 20, 30, 50, or 75+ times a day? Well, if you fall into one of those categories you would be in the minority! According to New Asurion Research, we check our phones on average 96 times every day! Or once every ten minutes!
So, what does this mean for your dispensary? As we mentioned earlier, 75% of consumers would like to receive mobile updates from you, and now that we know consumers check their phones every ten minutes, it is clear that dispensaries begin connecting with their audience via SMS/MMS messaging as soon as possible.
For those already engaging their patients with direct communication via SMS/MMS, challenge yourself to explore new ways to grow your customer list and expand your reach! For example, is your texting provider helping to add new clients to your customer list before they walk into your store? If you are entirely reliant on your own store’s foot traffic, you are behind the curve. Provide as many avenues as possible for customers to sign up for your product alerts, company updates, and specials campaigns.
To achieve continual and automatic growth of your dispensary’s following, make sure your message is being delivered and is accessible as possible!
Automate Your Customer Outreach Game
As we have discussed, customers are becoming more and more discerning in their search for brands. When it comes to dispensary loyalty, patients want to shop with brands that reward them, which is why it is so important to not only implement but also promote your reward opportunities and offerings!
It is one thing to print out a customer’s points on a receipt or a punch card, but it takes things to a whole new level when the client can access their points and redeem rewards straight from their own phone. Dispensary owners and operators need efficient solutions like a customized dispensary app to reach these levels of customer interactivity. Direct integration to your point-of-sale (POS) system is also crucial for sophisticated technological solutions. Leafbuyer Technologies has the ability to integrate loyalty points, customer data, and menu information with any POS system that has an open API and regularly updates its integrations with systems such as Flowhub, COVA, TREEZ, MJ Platform, Greenbits, Adilias, Blaze, POSaBIT, and more!
Stay in Compliance
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 signed into law by President George H.W. Bush requires businesses to obtain express written consent from each person they intend to send marketing messages to – including SMS and MMS messages. These businesses must offer the consumer an ability to ‘opt-out’ at any time and provide the opportunity to do so in every message.
It is vitally important for dispensaries to ensure they maintain legal compliance with the TCPA, as fines can extend up to $1500 for each message sent in violation! So, for example, let’s say you simply ask for a patient’s phone number at the conclusion of the sale, they verbally give it to you, and you put the data into your POS. Then, you text that patient the next day assuming their verbal confirmation was enough. Well, unfortunately, that scenario would not live up to TCPA standards and could put you in jeopardy of being sued. Recently, over a dozen dispensaries have been sued and are facing incredibly expensive class action lawsuits. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you! Leafbuyer Technologies is a TCPA compliance expert and will work to keep you protected at every turn! (To learn more about the TCPA, watch our recent webinar co-hosted by a TCPA attorney).
One of Oklahoma’s most recent requirements was announced in September 2020 when The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) awarded the state’s seed to sale contract to METRC. With this new adjustment, all dispensaries must either integrate with or manually input their information into the official METRC system. OMMA Interim Director Dr. Kelly Williams said, “The seed-to-sale system will greatly expand our compliance capabilities and improve the effectiveness and speed of any future recall efforts. It will also allow us to detect unusual patterns that may indicate product diversion.”
The best choice for dispensaries to ensure compliance with METRC is using a point of sale (POS) system that directly integrates with METRC. A few examples of POS companies who are connected with METRC are Flowhub, COVA, Treez, and Greenbits. Just make sure your dispensary has a plan on how to submit this required data to the state!
If you are ready to take your brand’s message to the next level, upgrade your customer communication efforts, stay compliant, and build lifetime customer loyalists, contact Leafbuyer Technologies today. Learn how our solutions can help grow your following and increase your market share in Oklahoma!