Since the end of prohibition in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, the marijuana industry has been booming. Like the Big Bang, the industry expanded to huge proportions in a very short period­­­ — and it shows no sign of slowing down. In 2014, the first year pot could be sold legally in the U.S., revenues fell just shy of $700,000,000; just one year later, revenues nearly hit one billion dollars. Nationwide, revenues totalled 5.4 billion dollars in 2015, and currently, the weed industry is valued at $7.2 billion. According to ArcView, that number will balloon to over $20 billion by 2020.

And as revenue climbs, many states are changing their tune on marijuana: last week, residents of California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts voted to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis in their states, while Arkansas, Montana, North Dakota and Florida residents voted to legalize medical marijuana.

As the booming market continues to grow, dispensaries face a heap of barriers. “The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S; however, due to market-specific regulatory issues, it has become very challenging for dispensaries and brands to stay competitive,” said Joel Milton, CEO of Baker Technologies.

One problem that has persisted into the post-prohibition era, albeit much more civilly, is the “turf war” amongst dispensaries. There is no shortage of competition amongst dispensaries. In Colorado, there are 225 licensed product manufacturers and 454 stores with licenses to retail marijuana as of October 3, 2016. And even though weed is still legal, there are still plenty rules about its distribution. Together, these forces can hinder successful growth in the crowded yet lucrative marijuana industry.

Baker Technologies, developers of the first marijuana-centric customer relationship management (CRM) system, hopes its platform can help their customers reach new bounds.  

A graduate of venture capital seed company, 500 Startups, Baker Technologies entered the marijuana industry as an “order ahead platform” to help dispensaries in overcome post-prohibition regulations associated with slow service and unpredictable inventory. Since then, Baker Technologies has evolved into a full-fledged CRM system focused on solving the problems that dispensaries face today. The company serves dispensaries in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Ontario Canada, and as of October 1, 2016, months after securing a $1.6 million seed fund, the company announced its expansion into Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico.

What Does Baker Technologies CRM Do and How Does it Help?

Baker Technologies takes a four-pronged approach to improving marijuana retailer and edibles brands businesses. The platform offers a feature set to capture customer information, create customer relationships via SMS and email marketing initiatives, offer online order ahead services, and to track and analyze sales.

Check in Loyalty

Retaining foot traffic can be a difficult task. Baker notes that half of foot traffic never returns, and that number is much higher in the retail cannabis business, as almost all shoppers are anonymous. To increase retention among walk-in customers, the platform offers an iPad check-in tablet, plus the capability to roll out loyalty programs or raffles to entice customers to leave information behind. This enables businesses gather crucial data on their customer base, such as their name and contact information, product preferences, and more. In turn, businesses can leverage this information to generate repeat business and cultivate loyal customers.

Connect Messaging

Equipped with customer data, dispensaries can create and deploy targeted text messaging and email campaigns to ping customers. Advanced filtering features enable businesses to intelligently group customers then send communications tailored to their preferences. Businesses can analyze the effectiveness of these campaigns by seeing how many customers received the message, the total number of clicks on the message, and the number of customers that came to the store as a result of the message.

Online Order Ahead   

Customer shopping habits have changed in the digital era, namely because of the prevalence of the internet and mobile devices. Cannabis customers are no different. Baker adopters can embed shoppable menus, which can be synced automatically should product availability change, on their website, enabling customers to order product without stepping foot in the store. The solution provides flexibility in deploying a digital touch points, enabling customers to order via the shopping widget or through the Baker mobile app.

Dashboard Analytics

Dispensaries can leverage data to improve their operations with the Insights Dashboard. The dashboard visualizes data in graphical form conveniently from a single interface, enabling operators to view statistics for online sales, average order size, and customer check ins, among others. As in virtually every industry, a comprehensive view of your customers and their spending habits, and how effective your marketing strategies are can lead to increased efficiency. On top of that, the dashboard can be used to rectify problems in supply chain such as reducing revenue losses due to waste, or even worse, losing sales due to inventory shortages of your best sellers.

With an industry that is only growing, managing customers will be more important than ever. The future is here in the marijuana industry, and technology will be key to keeping up with demand.

Conrad Cruz
Conrad Cruz

Explorer of the IoT, analyzing business software until the computers take over.