Here’s the problem: On Monday afternoon, Los Angeles consumers thirsty for some Kikoko-brand infused tea could have looked on Leafly and found eight Kikoko SKUs available at a dispensary in West Hollywood. Folks who browsed rival portal Weedmaps at the same time would have found only four Kikoko SKUs available at the shop. The dispensary’s website also listed four Kikoko products, but not all of them were the same ones listed on Weedmaps.
Brands, dispensaries, online platforms and consumers all have an interest in online cannabis menus accurately reflecting the products available at a dispensary at any given time. But due to the industry’s relative youth, and unique legal situation, disparities like the Kikoko situation are widespread, causing headaches for everyone involved.
To see how Seattle-based Leafly and Jane propose to resolve the issue, it helps to understand what the companies do:
- Leafly is a consumer-facing website publishing strain reviews, news and other content offerings to 120M visitors annually. Since 2018, browsers have been able to order cannabis from Leafly’s network of licensed client dispensaries, now numbering around 4,500. The company says it has 100,000 customers placing 350,000 orders every month.
- Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Jane has developed an e-commerce platform currently used by about 1,800 retailers and brands. In the last year, Jane says it powered 17M orders totaling more than $2B in sales. Like Leafly, it charges dispensaries a subscription fee, without receiving a commission on sales.
The industry’s menu problem owes to several related factors:
- Dispensaries have to track hundreds of fast-moving SKUs, but the various interfaces they use don’t talk to each other. So, if a shop runs out of a product, its staff have to separately key in the information to Leafly, and other platforms it might use, Jane CEO Socrates Rosenfeld said.
- Additionally, dispensaries don’t always enter the same products in their systems with the exact same keystrokes, Leafly CEO Yoko Miyashita said, which can lead to products not registering correctly on online menus.
- Further confusing matters, mainstream industries use Universal Product Codes (UPC) to track inventory. While the codes also appear on many if not all cannabis products, they apparently don’t function as seamlessly as in the mainstream economy.
How the partnership works
Going forward, Jane will continue to clean up the data for dispensary menus, but it will also send participating dispensaries’ cleaned up data to Leafly, so the menu on the store’s site syncs with the one on Leafly.
The next phase, rolling out in coming weeks, is what Miyashita calls a “full loop.” With Jane pushing updated menus to Leafly, Leafly will start pushing orders back to the Jane systems dispensaries use.
At the moment, dispensaries which accept orders from multiple platforms have to deal with each of them through a separate interface, Rosenfeld said, much like a restaurant accepts orders on DoorDash from a different system than it uses for orders from Uber Eats.
The arrangement does not involve a payment between Leafly and Jane, the CEOs said, but it is only available to retailers who use both services. Jane says there are about 1,000 candidates.
Through this component of the partnership, orders placed on Leafly won’t require a separate interface. The companies expect this capability to roll out in coming weeks.
Like so much of what cannabis companies do, the partnership can be seen as an effort to instill trust in new customers. To accelerate cannabis’ reach into the mainstream, Rosenfeld said, “We have to make sure that our online ordering experience rivals other industries.”
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