As retailers prepare for the end of in-store shopping and begin to adapt to e-commerce, improving and enhancing the customer experience is imperative for an online retailer to thrive, let alone stay afloat.
Jane recently announced a strategic partnership that combines Jane’s world-class product catalogs and business tools with Leafly’s consumer market and reach. Together, the companies will develop solutions that allow cannabis sellers to quickly and easily shop online to drive purchasing behavior. The partnership aims to strengthen consumer confidence in online shopping, create more powerful shopping tools for retailers, and help pharmacies expand their e-commerce capabilities through consistency and automation.
This strategic partnership comes after a year of tremendous growth for both Jane and the Leafs. Last year, Jane’s fulfilled more than 17 million orders and sold $2 billion worth of cannabis, while Leafly saw more than 4,500 cannabis retailers in North America use its platform to attract new customers.
We spoke with Socrates Rosenfeld, CEO of Jane, to learn more about e-commerce and online marketplaces, and how Jane and Leafly have come together as partners rather than competitors. Before Jane, Socrates was an Apache helicopter pilot in the US Army and later a consultant at McKinsey.
Aaron Green: Socrates, thank you for your time today. What trends do you see and observe in the development of the sector?
Socrates Rosenfeld: Always happy to discuss the industry. Thank you for the invitation.
If you had asked me this question a year ago, I would have said that a digital footprint is something that gives a pharmacy or a brand a good advantage. Today it is essential to survive. Where it used to be one or the other – online or offline – we can now combine the two, transforming the physical store into a digitized form to extend its reach far beyond its walls.
With increasing digitisation, information is becoming increasingly necessary for business operations. This enables us to meet the expectations of consumers who are used to convenience and cooking. The universal experience offers the best of both worlds. Accessibility and ease of delivery with the ability to pick up and do business the same day at your local store.
Reviews are one of the most important aspects of the online/offline mix. This is something lost in offline shopping that we can now collect and organize. With this product information, we can help buyers make an informed decision.
At Jane, we believe in creating profits for pharmacies, brands and customers – and digitisation offers the opportunity to do just that. I think there is no better incubator in the world than the cannabis industry to prove that online and offline commerce can work in harmony.
Aaron: Jane’s is the largest cannabis e-commerce platform in North America, and Leafly is the largest cannabis marketplace in North America. What is the difference between an e-commerce platform and a marketplace?
Socrates: That’s a good question. There is certainly some overlap between the two, so it makes sense for us to work together. But ultimately, our interests and experiences are different. Jane’s e-commerce platform acts as the digital infrastructure for the sector, routing digital products through various ordering points, including the pharmacy website, the brand’s website and now the Leafly marketplace. Leafly’s advanced content and market intelligence allows us to complete the online cannabis buying experience, from product discovery to order processing.
Aaron: At first glance, you’d think Jane and Liflay were competitors. How else did you see it? And how did this partnership come about?
Socrates: Our technologies are not only complementary, but also focused on the mission of enabling consumers, retailers and brands to maintain plant integrity.
We want to give consumers easy access to the products that are most advantageous to them. We want to ensure that pharmacies and brands, regardless of size, are able to compete on a level playing field.
It’s about being a good manager. Education and access create healthy demand for a diverse range of products. This means that the plant remains in the hands of many people and is thus protected from homogenisation.
Aaron: How do consumers benefit from this partnership?
Socrates: It’s really about aligning this sector with all other retail verticals and meeting the customer where they are. This gives customers more opportunities to discover products and access an extensive catalogue of information and verified customer references. Ultimately, this partnership makes buying cannabis as easy as shopping online for the rest of the world, while ensuring the success of the sellers.
Aaron: When you say vendors, do you mean distributors or stamps?
Socrates: In both cases we want to add value to the whole ecosystem. We can do this directly for pharmacies and brands by setting up an automated e-commerce platform that they can use for their own website. At Jane, we know that technology can create value for everyone, that it’s not a zero-sum game, and that one person’s success is another person’s success. With Jane, both pharmacies and brands win.
Aaron: What are the regulatory challenges you face in the partnership?
Socrates: The partnership arrangement itself does not pose any real problems. The whole sector operates within government rules, but it is these rules that have been the catalyst for innovation. I think legal online payments and national product distribution will play an important role in the evolution of the industry in the near future, and a partnership like this will ensure a smooth transition for the industry as things evolve.
Aaron: One last question. What would you personally like to know more about?
Socrates: I’ve always been interested in subversive models. Companies, not just in technology, but any company that has set out to do things differently and managed to bring their vision to life. It’s something I’m interested in, and I think I’ll always have something to learn and be inspired by.
Aaron: Great, that’s the end of the interview, Socrates!