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Marijuana dispensaries light up loyalty with Best Buds mobile app

Pointing to the wide appeal of mobile for loyalty programs, medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado are the latest merchants to tap smartphones for driving repeat visits.

More than 20 dispensaries and more than 2,000 customers are using the Best Buds mobile application, which enables users to redeem rewards by scanning a unique code with their smartphones at checkout. Each participating dispensary is leveraging the platform to send out its own unique deals and rewards.

“We found that the medical marijuana business is largely based on relationships,” said Ronnie Wagman of Novel Innovation LLC, Denver. “Patients tend to get comfortable with their budtenders and particular dispensaries, so it is nice for the dispensaries to have something that can reward that loyalty.

“With the Best Buds app, it makes it easy for them to quantify that loyalty and give back to their customers,” he said.

The Best Buds app was developed by Novel Innovation LLC and is available on both iPhone and Android devices.

Recreational users
As marijuana becomes legalized in a growing number of states, dispensaries are popping up to serve consumers interested in purchasing marijuana.

However, Colorado is the first state in the nation to open recreational pot stores, which started happening as of Jan. 1, 2014. Anyone age 21 or older can purchase marijuana, with purchases limited to an ounce.

The target audience includes both recreational and medicinal marijuana users.

Initially, Novel expects it will be recreational users who gravitate towards Best Buds first.

“Both of these industries, mobile apps and marijuana, are booming on their own, so we see no reason they wouldn’t work well together,” Mr. Wagman said.

“However, the average age for [a marijuana] patient is close to 40, so they may not be utilizing a mobile app as much as a 20-year old,” he said.

“The recreational users, however, are a much younger demographic that we think will be using the app at a higher rate in the early going.”

Search tool
The app includes a search tool enabling users to locate dispensaries based on what strains they carry.

Users can also browse product menus for individual dispensaries, view store hours, view locations on a map and get directions.

The app’s growth so far has been mostly organic through word-of-mouth. Starting this month, Novel plans to begin ramping up marketing for the app.

Mobile’s significant growth is driving opportunities for merchants of all sizes drive loyalty. This is because consumers have their devices nearby at almost all times, making it convenient to find a nearby merchant while they are on the go.

Additionally, consumers can easily store offers or find them to use at the moment when they are looking to make a purchase.

“Initial feedback has been very positive,” Mr. Wagman said. “As with any new product or service, we are always listening to feedback from both customers and users for how we can improve our product.

“I think in the coming months, you’ll see some nice updates that will really make it a better service for everyone,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York