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Cannabis CRM replicates dealer-customer relationship

When a big-city medical marijuana business wanted to better serve clients, it opted for cannabis CRM software that tries to replicate the traditional dealer-customer relationship.

A cannabis CRM system is helping a medical marijuana delivery business replicate aspects of the traditional relationship between a pot dealer and his customers.

Farhad Doctor, founder and CEO of Sticky Thumb Delivery and dispensary in San Francisco, said that, while the cannabis CRM technology from WebJoint has automated most phases of his commercial operations, maintaining the personal connection is critical.

The software helps do that by enabling Sticky Thumb to store and update customer preferences to give delivery drivers information to build relationships with customers. The dispensary uploads customer data to Constant Contact to send emails and takes phone numbers from WebJoint and uses other third-party services to send texts to customers.

"For decades, customers were meeting their friend down the street to buy a bag of weed," Doctor said. "People are accustomed to having their weed guy be their friend, someone who they can talk to and joke around with, and we still need to keep that personal relationship."

Farhad DoctorFarhad Doctor

Beyond cannabis CRM, Sticky Thumb also uses a turnkey cannabis website from WebJoint, as opposed to a third-party site that many of the business's competitors use.

Customers log on and upload their medical and identification information; Sticky Thumb then approves them, and they can shop the menu and place orders.

When a customer places an order, WebJoint produces an alert on the customer service employee's phone or desktop, and the business dispatches a driver.

The AWS cloud-based cannabis CRM platform also serves as Sticky Thumb's patient management and point-of-sale system, tracking inventory and all sales and taxes and generating loyalty point awards, coupons and special sales events.

"That generates excitement, knowing there's a discount on this today," Doctor said.

Also, the cannabis CRM's business analytics function interprets sales trends and tells Sticky Thumb the volume of traffic on the site and how long their customers stay.

"There's a lot of stuff that helps us operate our business more efficiently," Doctor said.

Business started in a bedroom

People are accustomed to having their weed guy be their friend, someone who they can talk to and joke around with, and we still need to keep that personal relationship.
Farhad DoctorSticky Thumb Delivery

Twenty-three-year-old Chris Dell'Olio, CEO and co-founder of Los Angeles-based WebJoint, dreamed up the idea for the cannabis CRM software when he was 19 and still living in a bedroom in his parents' house while running his own web design business with a high school friend.

"There's no software out there that any of the big companies have made that really works for our industry," he said. "I realized that there needed to be technology in place for these guys because, sooner or later, it's going to be a requirement."

By now, though, an array of cannabis tech companies has sprung up to cater to the fast-growing industry, including cannabis CRM vendors such as Baker and PipelineDeals. Webjoint sees as its primary competitors cannabis point of sale software vendors such as Treez, Meadow and MJ Freeway.

WebJoint sells a basic dispensary package at $400 a month with a $99 setup fee for the SaaS service. By comparison, a basic Baker system goes for $33 a month per sales and associated IT employee, billed annually.

Weeding through marijuana laws

Meanwhile, among the cannabis industry-specific features Dell'Ollio built in to his cannabis CRM are tracking by gram and the ability for users to comply with the widely varying marijuana laws in the different states where the drug is legal for medicinal or recreational use.

For example, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and others have "track-and-trace" platforms that all cannabis licensees -- including growers, warehousers, dispensaries and labs -- use to submit regular detailed reports to the government.

Marijuana is legal for medicinal use in 30 states and Washington, D.C., and legal for recreational use in nine states and D.C.

WebJoint has different versions for all businesses in all those phases of the industry and customizes the software by state.

While cannabis industries in the states are vigorous, many in the industry are wary of the threat of federal intervention.

Federal law still prohibits marijuana, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions removed an Obama-era rule that discouraged local authorities from enforcing federal law in states that have legalized marijuana.

For his part, Dell'Ollio said he's not worried.

"I think that everything that's happening in each state is creating a snowball effect that's too big to just stop in its tracks," he said.

This was last published in July 2018

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