Ah, vending machines. Throughout our childhoods, they’ve provided us with soda pop and chocolate, crunchy granola bars and potato chips. Nowadays, the good old, rickety, loud vending machine has transformed into a stand-alone consumerist vessel of the future. We can buy things like iPhones, underwear and extremely fancy champagne in vending machines. As of 2020, we can add weed to the list of items available to purchase through a machine. Yes, that’s right. Cannabis vending machines have touched down in the United States. But these machines are not the bright red, branded Coca-Cola vending machines of bygone eras, these are fully automated, age-verifying, climate-controlled cannabis dispensing machines. Here’s what you should know about a recreational or medical cannabis vending machine license.
The first machine of its kind was put to the test in Colorado and multiple manufacturers followed the trend. Now, there are different brands of machines and kiosks tailored specifically for marijuana retail. This automated retail trend was further pushed by the onset of COVID-19 and the need for socially distanced retail experiences. Even now, as social distancing becomes less prevalent, these machines have the capacity to transform the cannabis retail landscape by creating fast and efficient means of purchasing cannabis products. For customers that don’t need the one-on-one guidance of a budtender, or for those individuals living in rural communities that don’t have the capacity to support a full, brick and mortar dispensary, cannabis vending machines are a one stop shop.
We’re excited about this new trend in cannabis retail, so here’s everything you need to know about cannabis vending machines.
WHERE ARE VENDING MACHINES LOCATED?
The types of products contained in the vending machine will determine where they are located. For instance, if the vending machine is filled with CBD products, there is far less limitation on where they can be placed. CBD vending machines can be found in malls, shopping centers, convenience stores and beyond.
On the flip side, machines that are filled with THC products have to follow much more stringent regulations. THC vending machines are located in adult-use or medical cannabis dispensaries.
Currently, cannabis vending machines can be found in Colorado, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and Florida, the states that allow vendors to have a cannabis vending license.
WHAT TYPES OF PRODUCTS CAN I BUY FROM A CANNABIS VENDING MACHINE?
Vending machines are capable of carrying a variety of cannabis products including jars of flower, concentrate, lotions, tinctures, edibles and more. However, since these machines can only hold limited amounts of product, customers that opt for vending machine purchases will likely be limited to fewer options overall, or simply the “best sellers”. The vendor’s cannabis vending machine license will typically dictate what can be sold.
HOW DOES THE VENDING MACHINE PURCHASING PROCESS WORK?
Vending machine manufacturers like Anna and Greenstop use AI to create an efficient and futuristic purchasing experience. These vending machines feature a fully interactive display, allowing their dispensary partners to upload their entire menu. Customers can take their time scrolling through products and read information about strains or product types. This method of retail is the first time that strain information or product details are available at a dispensary without talking to someone, making it a fully contactless shopping experience.
DO I NEED TO PROVIDE ID TO BUY FROM A VENDING MACHINE?
Yes. Though cannabis vending machines have built-in ID scanners or facial recognition technology, many dispensaries simply check IDs at the front desk before allowing customers to purchase. This way, there is a real human responsible for ensuring the safe and legal purchase of cannabis products.
THE FUTURE OF AUTOMATED CANNABIS RETAIL
The retail automation industry is set to reach $19 billion by 2022, and innovative technology like what is used to create machines like Anna are a driver. These machines boost cannabis retail, enable self-checkout and provide an alternative, fast shopping experience for customers.
While brick-and-mortar dispensaries are the main source of legal cannabis purchases, advanced technology is bound to change the game. As society shifts to more automation, so will the cannabis industry. The companies that are developing these machines are ready to integrate even more ID and payment technologies whenever the market is ready. Soon enough, all we’ll need is an iPhone to order and pay for our cannabis.
After successfully implementing these technologies in the USA, cannabis vending machines may see global expansion on the horizon. The legal cannabis market shows no sign of slowing down so brands must be dynamic to stay relevant. Cannabis vending machines are not only a novelty, they enable cannabis businesses to adapt to a shifting retail landscape that values convenience.