We sat down with Indica Online to talk the future of their platform
Having been founded in 2011, Indica Online is no stranger to the cannabis industry. Their current technology product offerings are vast, and probably is best known for their retail point of sale system. We sat down with Digital Marketing Director Steven Lynn to talk about Indica Online and the future for cannabis retail point of sale.
Marijuana Retail Report: Tell us a little background about Indica Online.
Steven Lynn: So Indica Online was founded in 2011 but we’ve gone through obviously a lot of changes as the industry has changed immensely over the past seven years. We started out with our point of sale system and also ZenMD, our sort of telemedicine application which would allow people to get their medical recommendations through a licensed physician through teleconferencing. Since things have been moving towards recreational, we placed a little less focus on ZenMD and more focus on Indica online. With all the different developments as far as regulations and taxes and compliance and all that sort of stuff, we’ve made a lot of developments on our software to go right along with them.
So our POS station actually uses a sort of an all in one register. Basically, you plug your iPad into the register and it charges the register. It also has a receipt printer, a barcode scanner, ID swiper, electronic cash drawer. It can also have some external hardware like a label printer, and scales that integrate. Whereas our delivery application, which is for mobile devices, works on IOS and Android. Those are for the couriers and they’re able to accept orders, map the route to the next location, and do paperless transactions.
Then we also have a dashboard which is more of the customer insights and analytics POS station and that tell us things like new customers versus existing customers, your sales, your gross sales, your bestselling products, things of that nature. Then we also have E-Sign MD, which is sort of for the front of house where patients get digitally signed collective agreements or check in online, input their information and upload that directly to their customer profile. So it’s pretty all encompassing. We also have a Apple TV application that syncs with our digital signage. So basically it provides a product menu for all the customers. You can even do things like YouTube videos and social media feeds. So there’s really a lot of options when it comes to all those different applications.
MRR: Can you talk a little bit about kind of what are some of the commonalities on analytics that retailers should be looking for when they use your system? What are some ways to put the data into real practice for the for the retailer?
Steven Lynn: Absolutely. So basically that’s our dashboard application and if you search in the app store that’s available for Android and IOS. And yeah, that’s going to give you a breakdown of things like your customer retention, so you look at the percentage of your returning customers versus new customers.
It’s also going to let you know what products are selling best so you can optimize your inventory, to sort of cater to what your traffic is consuming. And that data breaks down by category for flower, edibles, tinctures, concentrates, ext. So it’s very comprehensive in that fashion. It also shows you what your traffic is on a day to day basis and you can further refine as needed: day by day, hour by hour, month by month. So you know, when those slow times come during the year, it can help dispensary managers and owners know things like ‘How many staff do we need’ or you know, pre-purchase inventory to really meet demand for those peak periods. There’s really a lot of data that it provides and lots of ways where that can be used to not only save you money, but maximize your return as well.
MRR: Can you talk a little bit about Indica Online and what its hopes for delivery are? Also, we’ve seen some pushback on the California market in regards to delivery. Do you see that as becoming a real threat to the cannabis industry or is this kind of just hot smoke?
Steven Lynn: Yeah, I think it’s a lotta hot smoke to be honest with you. In fact, we’ve actually recently developed a lot of different features that sort of put a kibosh on their complaints like validating identity. That’s the feature that we offer from our delivery application. They can basically scan the back of the ID card with their phone, and not only does that validate the identity, but it can also be uploaded to the profile. So even back at the dispensary they can double check to validate that ID is legit. You know, there’s a lot of obstacles that have been in the way in the past. One of our newest features is the smart order assignment. Basically what that does is it suggests a driver based on the delivery timeframe, like you preset the delivery timeframe. You say, okay, I have five orders, I want all of those orders to be delivered within an hour and 20 minutes. And so we’ve actually recently integrated with Google enterprise navigation, and it takes into account all the traffic conditions and, for example, if an accident were to happen in route from delivery one to delivery two, it will basically reroute the entire delivery route so that you can still deliver within that time frame of an hour and 20 minutes.
So that’s been our newest feature and it’s probably one of the first in the industry as far as being able to have that capability. To give you a bit further information on it, when a driver comes into the dispensary to pick up orders to deliver, they’ll come in with their phone. They’ll scan the barcode on the receipt and that will then add it to their delivery que. From there, the API integration sort of takes over and establishes the fastest route and then they go out for the deliveries. The dispatcher is then able to keep track because we have GPS tracking. It really reduces the amount of time the customers have to wait for their deliveries and cuts out the uncertainty because if something were to happen or a traffic accident occurs, it will notify the customer and it’s like, ‘Your delivery has been delayed due to a traffic accident. We now expect the ETA to be 50 minutes instead of 20 minutes.’ So it’s pretty advanced. We’re pretty excited about that feature. It’s called smart order assignment.
MRR: Are you guys are rolling out with that in every state that you guys are in, or you guys are beta testing that?
Steven Lynn: Right now it’s in the beta phase, but we’re, we’ve been pretty happy with the results so far, but we will definitely let you know once that’s rolled out system wide. So, but yeah, and any new updates were happening.
Marijuana Retail Report: Are there additional features that you are looking to develop in the future?
Steven Lynn: Definitely. I mean, right now a lot of our focus is just the integration with the track and trace platforms. And now that the Canadian market’s recreational, we’re really working to get that up and running there as well. We’re really seeing Canada as sort of our new frontier. Not all the provinces have approved private retailers, but the ones that have, have a fairly large market. So we’ve already sort of entered the medical market there for the past couple of years in BC and Ontario and we’re really excited about recreational.
Marijuana Retail Report: What are some of the biggest mistakes that you’ve seen kind of a dispensary make and can you give some tips possibly to help our readers avoid those same situations?
Steven Lynn: Yeah, well I would say that, you know, there’s been a lot of confusion around taxes especially. I think it’s because we have a few different types of customer now. You know, you can be a medical dispensary and an adult use dispensary. So we’ve set up a structure where we’ve created three different patient types. You have your recreational user, you have your medical patient with a recommendation and then you have your medical patient with a state ID card and we’ve set up different tax tiers for each one of those different patient categories. Every time a new patient comes in, you make sure to select that patient category. And then in the back end, you can preset the percentages, the tax rates for each category. We always advise our customers to consult with an accountant before entering those percentages. But, once they get those percentages confirmed, then it’s really simple just to plug that information in, set the category when a new patient is added and those taxes are automatically applied at checkout. This is done so your budtenders and your sales associates are not worrying about having to calculate that information. That’s automatically calculated once the transaction takes place.
So yeah, I think another area where we’ve seen a lot of confusion is just the compliance aspect of, okay, now we’re legal, how do we report this? How do we enter this information into METRC? I think a lot of that has had to do with just the confusion about licensing. So basically you know, before you do anything, you need to get your annual license. Once you have your annual license, then you can go through the training. Once you have the training, then you can set up a profile. And then once they have set up a profile, that’s where we come in and we can grab that API key from their account and then our software can then integrate it. We’ve already become a validated software integrator for METRC, so we’re excited to get that started. But it’s all about people having those licenses and so once they get that annual license then we can really you know, say, give us a call, we’ll walk them through it.
Marijuana Retail Report: From an entrepreneurial standpoint, what are some good ways to protect your business against bad customers who may try to cheat your store or purchase over limits?
Steven Lynn: We actually have a blacklist feature and that can be basically implemented by store. So say you’ve got a customer, he comes in, he tries to loop on a weekly basis. You could basically say, all right buddy, you know, we’ve tried to tell you, we’ve tried to serve you, but you continue to try to do this and it’s putting us at risk. You put him on your black list, as soon as he tries to check in. Reception is notified that hey, this guy’s blacklisted for this, this, and this reason. Then you don’t even have to worry about them getting to the sales floor. Security can take care of it or they can just be turned away. Not only that, but we also have a blacklist network which actually connects to all of the Indica Online POS systems. So say another dispensary is using the Indica Online system. He tries to go to that dispensary. If he’s blacklisted network wide then that dispensary will receive a notification when he tries to check in. This customer’s trying to do this at such location and these are the reasons for blacklisting. Then they have a heads up that no, this guy may attempt the same thing. Then it’s up to them with whether or not they wanna serve him but at least they’ve been forewarned about what they have been trying to do.