Since opening its first dispensary in January 2020, Consume Cannabis has expanded to seven stores in Illinois and Michigan, with three more planned by the end of the year. Self-order kiosks have proven a useful tool.
When Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis in 2020, the owners of Consume Cannabis, who already operated a cultivation center for medicinal cannabis, didn’t hesitate to launch a recreational cannabis dispensary.
And when COVID-19 hit in March, business only got better.
|Dan Scheidt says the self-order kiosks are the centerpiece of the stores operations.|
“COVID has driven a lot of people to use cannabis,” Dan Scheidt, director of marketing for the Palatine, Illinois based company, told Kiosk Marketplace in a phone interview. “Once we were labeled as ‘essential’ business, it was a big help to us as a company. People are looking at us in a different sense.”
Since opening its first dispensary in January 2020, the company has expanded to seven stores in Illinois and Michigan, with three more planned by the end of the year. Self-order kiosks have proven a useful tool.
Step one: iPads
The company introduced its first self-serve devices when it opened its Carbondale store in southern Illinois in June, using iPads, to make it easy for customers to browse the menu and place orders.
“We were just trying to update our operations, giving customers different options,” Scheidt said. In his view, the self-service option makes sense for regular customers.
“Some people come in, they know what they want, they can just go to a kiosk and order it and pick it up,” he said. “That helps clear up some counters. We’re happy to have conversations to educate people on products that they’re choosing. But if they know what they want, they’re more than happy to just use the kiosk, pick it (their order) up and go. That’s a much faster transaction time.”
Since there are a lot of regular customers, the store’s three self-serve iPads got a lot of use.
Next step: floor standing kiosks
|A customer places an order using the Consume Cannabis kiosk. The company uses the Connect model from Frank Mayer and Associates Inc.|
One problem, however, was it was not easy for the customer to view the store’s entire menu on the 10-inch iPad screen.
“We do have clients that range in age, so not everyone can see small type,” Scheidt said.
Hence, the company replaced all three iPads with floor standing Connect kiosks with 22-inch Elo monitors from Frank Mayer and Associates Inc.
The freestanding kiosk allows the customer to see a larger menu and provides better quality pictures.
“It allowed us to offer a better presentation,” Scheidt said. “They can see more products, they can see more lines of products, so it’s going to encourage more sales.”
The kiosk displays the same menu available on the company website, which offers pictures of the products, descriptions and prices. The dispensaries carry between 200 and 300 cannabis SKUs at a time, including flowers, extracts, vaporizers and edibles, and the average ticket is over $100.
“Everything on that screen is what we physically have in the store,” Scheidt said.
The menus are “live,” meaning they are updated throughout the day as products are delivered and purchased.
“It’s definitely a high volume part of our business,” Scheidt said for the ordering kiosks. “It’s a very important part of our business and our business model.”
Finding the right supplier
In exploring floor standing kiosks, Scheidt paid attention to manufacturers’ customization options and screen sizes. He also wanted to work with a manufacturer that would be able to deliver the kiosks in time for the opening of the company’s flagship store in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, in November.
“I was looking at a number of different kiosk options and liked what Frank Mayer had to offer,” he said. “I loved it, because I could manage all the kiosks from our centralized corporate office. I can see what’s on their (individual kiosk) screen remotely. It’s a huge help.”
The company installed Eloview software on the kiosks, based on Frank Mayer and Associates’ recommendation.
Equally important is the fact that customers find the kiosk easy to use. Each store has one employee overseeing the kiosks in case a customer has questions.
“It’s very intuitive, but even if they have any trouble, we’ll have somebody that’s there to guide them through the kiosk,” Scheidt said.
Customers must show their identity before entering the store. They must be at least 21 years of age to buy recreational cannabis, and at least 18 for medical cannabis. After verifying their identity, they can go to the kiosk, place their order, then go to the checkout counter to pick up their order and pay. They verify their identity a second time when they pick up their order.
Customers must pay with cash, and there are ATMs available in each of the company’s stores.
“They (the kiosks) are the centerpiece of that store’s operation,” Scheidt said. “We were able to come up with a really great looking solution that people love to use.”
Customers can also order online and receive a text message when the order is ready.
“We have found that the kiosks have saved on labor costs by allowing orders to be filled while the customer enjoys the educational aspects of the dispensary,” Scheid said. “We try to train the customers to use the kiosks for quicker transactions in the future.”
Scheidt did not wish to reveal cost and sales information.
Photos courtesy of Consume Cannabis.