After months of Coronavirus, it’s evident a few things aren’t going to be the same after this. Many businesses are finding ways to limit physical customer interaction as a way to combat the spread of the virus. Restaurants are encouraging curbside pickup or delivery while many office employees are working from home. One company, anna, is applying this business model to the cannabis industry.
Anna Vending Machines
Like most industries, the cannabis industry doesn’t always have to be done through face to face interactions. Sure, some dispensaries are opting for delivery now, but that still requires you to come face to face with at least one person you don’t know. Matt Frost, CEO of anna, realized this and saw an opportunity and created an AI-powered self-checkout solution.
“There are experienced cannabis customers who don’t necessarily need that one-on-one interaction with a budtender,” Frost said. “They know what they want before they walk in, they’re ready to go in and out. By doing this we’re giving more time back to the people who do need hand-holding and want that education from a live person.”
The first fleet of anna vending machines just recently debuted at Strawberry Fields Dispensary in Pueblo, CO. Four vending machines have been placed throughout the dispensary. The machines each feature a 27-inch screen that displays the entire cannabis menu to the customer.
This is just the beginning for fans of the anna vending machine. Frost plans on including these vending machines at the Starbuds dispensary, in Aurora, CO, sometime later this year. Finally, customers will be able to pre-order cannabis products with the anna app that is soon to be released. Once ordered through the app, customers can walk in and grab their cannabis straight from the vending machines.
Unfortunately, while this sounds great on paper, this idea still has some flaws. First and foremost is the fact that this doesn’t actually eliminate customer contact from dispensaries. In order to use these vending machines, you must enter the dispensary, which includes checking in and going through security. In other words, you would be better of ordering delivery and only having to deal with one person.
On the same note, these vending machines will be touched by a lot of people. The staff of these dispensaries will have to wipe down these machines constantly to ensure cleanliness standards are being met.
Currently, these vending machines will only be selling cannabis. In other words, you won’t be able to find any edibles, tinctures, or merchandise in these vending machines. However, Frost believes this is only the beginning of cannabis vending machines. In the future, Frost has his eyes set on the CBD market. If all goes well with the dispensaries, he envisions these vending machines at gas stations, retails stores, and other common locations.
“The partnership that we’re about to strike I have to keep under wraps for now, but [it’s] a very significant CBD distribution opportunity that we’re excited about,” Frost said. “I think you’ll be seeing this rollout absolutely in the fall.”