It doesn’t matter what arena you look at these days, everyone is talking about big data.

For most businesses outside of the cannabis sector, big data is no big secret. With the internet of things, the widespread adoption of wearables, data is pouring in from millions of devices around the world and informing business with the revelations that are drawn from it.

Looking forward, data like this is juicy inspiration for finding what might be upcoming trends, or to identify areas of opportunity. Surprise insights can be revealed by the statistics that appear when the data is reviewed.

Given the newness of the legal cannabis industry, it is imperative that data be collected, immediately, whether or not you know what to do with it.

The playing field will never be this level for cannabis, and useful data will become a golden nugget that could disrupt your competition in the future.
Let’s take agriculture for example. Farming is an industry ripe for disruption right now given the impact that climate change has had on the geography, water supplies and production yield. Opportunities for innovation in low-energy use, sustainable methods couldn’t be needed more.
With the change in climate, farmers are needing to relearn how their land produces in order to keep ahead of the changes. Imagine providing a farmer with data that lets them know what acres are in need of more water, and which plants need more fertilizer – economizing water usage and expensive plant food with immediate results on the bottom line.

This is easily applicable to cannabis using the proliferation of large scale grows that are in development as an example.

Anticipation of an exploding cannabis market means that grows are getting larger and larger. At some point, the 100 plants you spend every day with become 5000 and your ability to know what each plant needs has a fall off point, no matter how amazing of a grower you might be.
There are startups in this space already, looking to create a network of data receptors within a grow, and aggregating that data into an interface that helps the grower know exactly what plants need what and why. The result? Better yield.
Imagine tracking that information for the next 5 years alongside strain details, test results from the lab, sales numbers and prices in supplies. Five years from now you would be sitting on a goldmine of insight and efficiency right at the point in time where cannabis is projected to EXPLODE.  Talk about a competitive advantage.
I hear what you’re thinking right now – my business is just a local dispensary. What the hell do I care about data? Hold onto your hats, I’m about to lay down some truthiness.

Cannabis customers – your customers – are walking repositories of all your data.

I’m not talking about identifiable data like names and addresses – there is still a HUGE bias against revealing personal details in the cannabis industry and that isn’t gonna change for a few more years.
I’m talking about the information that will make you more money.
When are the busy days in your shop? Do you know exactly how much busier they are? What strains bring customers back over and over? What growers are repeatedly bringing back quality tested lab results time and time again? When you post content on instagram, do you notice an uptick in your shop sales? How will you know? How COULD you know?
My friends, you need to be collecting your own data. Start by assessing what you could track. What do your sales tell you about your business already? You are tracking everything you do online, right? If not, stop what you’re doing right now and set it up. That detail is critical-level-necessary at whatever stage of business you are at right now.

You can totally bootstrap your data as well – no need to buy up some system you’re not sure you need yet.

Start with the basics. Get your website tracking on Google Analytics. Try sorting your sales data spreadsheet in interesting ways to figure out what else you can learn from the information you already have.
What can they tell you about your business? What do they love? More importantly, what do they loathe? Don’t ask your mom and your tribe who love everything you’ve ever done. Ask the customers you might be a little scared of learning what they think.
Be willing to consider your information from a new perspective.
You’re gonna want more data than you think you do later, so track everything you can today, and keep adding to it. Involve your marketing, development and employees in your data strategy. Keep it organized. Keep it as detailed as possible, and keep it protected while you keep it growing. By doing so, you will add another level of protection for your business in the future as cannabis continues to grow.

About The Author

Starlight is the founder of Craft Mary Jane. She is a mix of innovative thinking, maverick leadership and startup nerd-ery, with a healthy dab of spirited swagger and technological whiz-bang, If Woody Harrelson, Richard Branson, Gertrude Stein and Andre 3000 had a love child, it would be Starlight.

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