Cannabis and loyalty marketing - growing together

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By: Mike Capizzi, CLMP™ |

Posted on January 22, 2018

Despite recent actions from the US Attorney General’s office, the cannabis industry continues to march forward and evolve as a retail class of trade in those states which allow such trade.  Not surprising, the loyalty marketing industry marches forward with them.  Helping a merchant - any merchant - to identify and retain best customers, communicate with them and track their distinctive purchase behavior is what loyalty marketing is all about.

By Mike Capizzi, CLMP

Last week, springbig, an innovator in loyalty marketing technology for the cannabis industry, announced a new partnership with MJ Freeway an industry-leading software, consulting, and data solution provider for cannabis merchants and dispensaries.

The driving strategy behind the partnership will enable an integrated platform of loyalty and POS technologies for thousands of merchants to easily implement customer loyalty and retention programs.  The springbig solution, which uses SMS, loyalty marketing, and other tools to encourage repeat business for cannabis retailers, will benefit from exposure to the large installed base of MJ merchants.  For MJ, the loyalty module becomes another differentiating and value-added feature for their current point-of-sale (POS) and compliance platform.  MJ currently serves merchants with more than 30 billion dollars in sales transactions globally and having loyalty as part of the mix offers the potential to drive those transactions even higher.

The key quote comes from Jeffrey Harris, springbig’s founder and CEO:

“We know retailers that implement customer loyalty programs are able to see immediate lift in customer traffic, repeat visits and sales. Additionally, our best-in-class digital communications platform will enable retailers to drive traffic into their stores within hours of launching their targeted SMS campaigns through our easy-to-use portal. We are delighted to be partnering with MJ Freeway to seamlessly bring our platform to their extensive customer base and help these retailers increase customer retention and ROI.”

There are two reasons this loyalty news story caught our eye and neither of them has anything to do with marijuana.

First, seamless integration means retailers will no longer need a second device on their counters, such as a tablet or second swipe mechanism, to manually collect customer information. Now, loyalty program information will be collected automatically with customer consent through the information captured by the MJ Freeway POS system. Eliminating dual devices and dual entry removes friction from the loyalty infrastructure and dramatically improves the customer experience.  All retailers should take note, especially those still clinging to legacy systems.  By removing friction, the loyalty program opt-in rate accelerates, and retailer return on investment is enhanced, especially given springbig’s capability to allow these retailers to communicate with their customer base in real-time using a suite of simple self-serve marketing communication tools.

Second, as many legacy retailers still struggle with the customer experience and friction removal questions, it is notable that a new class of trade – cannabis merchants -  can bypass the ways of old.  This is a manifestation of the disruption elements occurring throughout the global loyalty landscape. New technologies are more readily adopted when they are unencumbered by old technologies and the plethora of priests who pay homage to the entrenched way of doing things.  Whether e-commerce vs. brick, mobile vs. e-mail, loyalty cards vs. no cards, etc. the industry transformation that is going on is highlighted by a merchant class who had no past to transform.

Mike Capizzi is the Dean of The Loyalty Academy and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional™ (CLMP).