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Cannabis App Engagement for Marijuana Users and the Supply Chain

By Nick Epson on October 1, 2020

Marijuana: it’s reveled as a miracle treatment for many conditions and a hit at social gatherings when in the company of those who partake – as the industry is booming in legal states, smart investors are seeking out software solutions that achieve cannabis app engagement for their user base. With that said, the cannabis industry could use a little help, both on the consumer end as well as on the backend where products originate.

Like any group of people, cannabis users are a diverse crowd. First of all, there are a substantial number of people who use marijuana to legitimately treat medical conditions. Too, for every scrappy all-day stoner, there is a sophisticated user who enjoys sparking a bowl after a day at the office. And let’s not forget the many people who work behind the scenes to keep products on the shelves. 

The cannabis industry is ripe for innovation and we have some ideas that we’d like to get out in the open. Here, we’ll quickly look at some popular examples of marijuana apps on the market then we’ll discuss the underlying components for successful cannabis app engagement both for marijuana users and the people involved on the production side.

Today’s most popular cannabis apps and their commonalities

A cursory look on the web quickly reveals today’s top cannabis apps. A look at any one of these apps shows us that users aren’t using such software to find tongue-in-cheek Cheech and Chong references but rather to gain real information.

Today’s most useful marijuana apps convey tangible information about trending brands, popular strains, and where to get them. This is something we accomplished in the app we developed called Muncheez (now known as Vana on the App Store and Google Play.) After extensive research, we developed this app to satisfy what the market wanted: it provides valuable information about brands, identifies dispensaries that carry the products, and supplies supplemental information via blogs from the app’s content team.

To compete with Vana and other top names, it’s important to understand that good information is the baseline for cannabis app engagement. However, there’s a lot of untapped opportunities that need to come to fruition for the sake of the industry.

The makings of a great cannabis app

Take a minute to pay a visit to this study that provides a scientific content analysis of the top 59 cannabis apps for Android, namely because Google has more products to study since the publishing guidelines are less restrictive. Here, you’ll notice a few metrics such as the fact that most apps are free to use which is important to keep in mind when developing an app for marijuana. Next, peruse the following where we play with some ideas that haven’t quite made it to the market just yet or need some tweaking.

Really know your shit. The crux for any cannabis app is the information you furnish. You need to effectively convey qualitative and quantitative intricacies for the products you feature, for example, the Sativa and Indica composition of some flower hybrid that’s all the rage.

While this information is trivial to some, it’s critical to many users. Some recreational pot smokers will burn anything for a buzz yet just as many are sensitive to the specific composition of certain strains. It’s quite common that users with anxiety conditions will experience attacks when smoking or eating one strain over the other. 

It kind of defeats the purpose of smoking herb if it causes you to melt into an anxious mess!

With concentrates –  whether oil, shatter, wax, or whatever – conveying as much data as possible is perhaps even more crucial. Some people just want to get as high as possible, which is fine, but others use these forms of marijuana for their potent effects in pain management or the treatment of chronic conditions like epilepsy.

App developers should understand that not every cannabis user knows which strains to research as well as if concentrates are a good fit. Adding tools like questionnaires that can help match ideal strains and other forms of marijuana (e.g. edibles, concentrates, etc.) for a user based on their responses – as well show the user where to obtain said items – provides substantial value.

In short, it’s necessary to be as detailed as possible or you’re never going to compete with the likes of, say, Leafly which does an excellent job of providing detailed information about all kinds of marijuana-based products.

Geolocation features open doors. Implementing backend location services helps in a few areas, some obvious and others not so much. Currently, location services in weed apps are mostly used to identify nearby dispensaries. This is particularly useful when users are looking for legal herb while in unfamiliar areas. Too, it’s the foundation for delivery services – if your goals are a kind of Uber service for weed, you’ll certainly need geolocation to build out such a feature.

Another area where this could help immensely is with the supply chain, for example, if your app is designed to link growers with the various resources needed to grow good pot. Currently, there are big problems in the industry with sourcing certain materials and unfortunately, there isn’t an app for that. At least yet.

Eventually, someone needs to step up to the plate and build an app that links nearby suppliers and grow ops. Geolocation would be a huge asset to a cannabis app designed for the supply chain, just as it would help a DoorDash-like service.

Product availability. Dispensaries that make use of modern inventory systems should be able to easily provide up-to-date information about their product availability through an app. Such setups allow dispensary employees to maintain their workflow without interruption plus, it reduces the likelihood some poor soul makes an unneeded trip only to find that their beloved Afghan Kush isn’t in stock.

For bigger schemes, such as the supply chain scenario we touched on just above, such a setup is vital for cannabis app engagement. Organizations providing much-needed supplies for growing operations or those in the business of supplying dispensaries with products can remove a lot of the guesswork that coincides with poorly maintained inventory systems.

In more ambitious endeavors, an app developer could create an API that links various systems together to securely exchange all kinds of inventory information. Like in healthcare, connecting disparate systems in real-time would genuinely elevate the cannabis industry.

Enable user interaction. Such a feat could be achieved via forums, social media-like functions, in-app messaging, or all of the above. The more users interact in publicly available spaces, the more “information” a site or app hosts. Combined with effective moderation using AI and a human eye, your app becomes inherently more engaging.

Smart growers, dispensary owners, and suppliers regularly look for as much input as possible. Here, cannabis app engagement is embellished simply by users interacting with each other, much like other highly social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

Keep in mind, the product is still illegal in many states and where it is legal, there are age restrictions. As such, you’ll need to build in functions that attempt to limit access from underage users. Too, you can take a lesson from Vana and also tie in geolocation features that locate a user and notify them when they’re not in a weed-legal area. Like adult content, apps need to be tagged for the appropriate age group to satisfy the App Store and Google Play guidelines.

Blue Label Labs can build your next-gen cannabis app

At Blue Label Labs, we employ the best-of-the-best to build software for everyone from the sole entrepreneur to the Fortune 500 company. We delve into emerging markets like cannabis to unlock opportunities for our clients. Feel free to get in touch to learn how we can help you build the next big cannabis app.

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