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Cannabis App Development

White Label Cannabis Dispensary Apps – Still a Yay or Now a Nay?

Posted by: Nikki Tabberrah

November 15, 2022


“There’s an app for that!” 

This is particularly true in our economy. Every aspect of trade can now be found in the palm of everyone’s hands. Need to order food? We have UberEats for that. Need some kush? There are marketplace apps and even single-store apps out there where you can buy your stash from. Speaking of kush, everyone might be wondering how small to medium-sized businesses can even afford such digital infrastructure. 

Thanks to tech and SaaS companies, they’ve found a way to build a mobile application for businesses with minimal investment. Especially in retail, the proliferation of branded mobile apps can be slightly attributed to the rise of White Label Apps

White-label apps are semi-custom applications designed to provide businesses with their own mobile application without having to invest in major digital infrastructures or pay hefty development costs. They are “templated” applications that allow minimal customization and were built to serve a particular suite of features such as e-com and rewards solutions. 

Since the legalization and destigmatization of cannabis started in 2019, early movers have taken advantage of this and moved their business from brick-and-mortar to click-and-mortar, enabling users to finally order their favorite products online. This is followed by Apple’s huge App Store announcement last year that they now allow the sale of Cannabis through their apps. Currently, only a few cannabis dispensaries are taking advantage of it to beat the competition. 

Types of White-Label Apps For Cannabis Dispensaries

Ecommerce White Label Apps

Early movers took their businesses online from websites to ordering apps. With a white label, dispensaries are able to pull their online store into a handy app with a web view. It basically mirrors their website into the app and is complemented with mobile-optimized-but-somehow-similar-features. The main goal of these e-commerce white-label apps is to enable businesses to have their own branded pocket of tech that can satisfy the needs and demands of their customers. 

They come in varying models depending on which SaaS company you work with. There are single-store apps, marketplace apps and aggregator apps that cater to either a single brand or more. 

Loyalty Rewards & Communication Apps

Dispensaries know the value of loyalty when it comes to their line of business. It’s no secret that the key to keeping businesses alive and well is having the ability to reel people in over and over again. Businesses do so through loyalty rewards programs since incentivizing customers is one of the most effective ways to retain them and increase overall sales.

White labels also worked well in this place. SaaS companies offer their own rewards platform and translate it into a branded app for their clients. With this, customers will be able to monitor their points and keep all reward information in one place. Alternatively, these apps can also receive secure messages from dispensary brands which can be powerful as well given the challenges in cannabis advertising. One example of this is KushMart. 

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Related: 3 Unique Ways To Boost Your Pot Shop's Loyalty Program

Fulfilment Apps

White-label fulfilment apps typically feature on-demand delivery and pick-up services. They enable businesses to streamline sales operations from one place. Customers can usually book their orders and choose how they want to receive them. On-demand white labels often provide multiple modules and dashboards, automated delivery dispatch features, uber-like delivery tracking, route optimization and so much more. They are the ideal apps for dispensaries that want to provide quick and instant fulfilment options to users

Pros and Cons of White Label Apps

White-label dispensary apps have their fair share of benefits and disadvantages. Let’s look into them shall, we?

Benefits of a White-Label App

Low Investment
Compared to building your own app from scratch, white-label apps are more cost-efficient. Since features are pre-built, SaaS does not have to re-engineer the whole product compared to developing your app from scratch

Easy to Deploy
White label is one of the fastest ways to develop an app for your brand. Thanks to its structured set of features, it’s faster to deliver.

Low maintenance
Mobile app development is not a one-time venture. Apart from development, it involves a lot of maintenance to keep your tech up to date on all of the latest compliance factors. With white labels, you won’t have to worry about that so much, white label SaaS providers handle that for you and ensure that all brands under their care get the same update across the board. Again, it’s because the app product is “templated”. 

Easy to Brand
White-label apps can adhere to your brand’s look and feel. Despite having a structured UI/UX, you can still add a bit of brand personality to it by adding your logo and brand visuals.

A white-label app can mirror your webstore. Just like how customers can order from your website, they can do just the same on the app. But that’s basically it. There's usually no option to build any additional features.

Disadvantages of White-Label Apps

It’s not designed for your business model
Since it’s not specifically designed for your brand, you only get the features that it came with. There’s no room for strategic design and further customization which can limit your brand’s potential. Current providers either have e-commerce solutions, rewards solutions or just a sweet mix of both. 

Not much originality
While your white-label app is branded to a tee, it’s still built the same way as others. The user experience is similar with no unique feature to differentiate your brand from others.

No unique experiences
With white labels, you cannot curate distinct shopping experiences for your customers. You can not do personalized upsells, set engaging milestones to boost loyalty, and so much more. This is because white labels aren’t truly comprehensive and integrated.

No flexibility
White-label providers often require brands to get on board their own software – may it be ecommerce or rewards platforms, or both in order to be eligible for their white-label app products. This arrangement leaves no room for autonomy and freedom on the part of the dispensary when it comes to future preferences and business directions.

No room for API
White-label apps aren’t truly integrated. They are just programmed to do what they’re designed to do. You cannot build up on that with new additional features and functionalities, unlike custom dispensary apps.

Since it’s templated, there aren’t a lot of things you can do with how it looks. Aside from your logo and a few branding elements, there’s not much else to see. Without the ability to update the design to keep up with the trends, this often leaves you with a clunky piece of tech over time.

Both benefits and disadvantages may evolve over time as software providers become more limber when it comes to their white-label offerings. But more often than not, these semi-custom apps limit a brand’s ability to provide more immersive and personalized experiences for their customers  — all for the sake of cost efficiency. 

Gaps and Opportunities Magnified: What Cannabis Dispensaries Are Saying

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Digital Awesome went ahead and talked to a lot of business owners in the cannabis space. Most of them have ventured beyond their physical store to keep up with their customer desire to shop more discreetly online. They’ve signed up with different service providers to help them digitize their sales and rewards processes. While not all of them have a white label or custom apps just yet, one concern stands out.

There isn’t a lot of freedom and flexibility when it comes to current partnerships. SaaS providers typically require their clients to get on board their in-house e-commerce or rewards platforms and offer their white-label app products. While this “one-stop-shop” model makes sense, a brand’s capacity to scale further with innovative shopping experiences is often limited to the confines of what these companies can offer. And businesses can’t really do anything about it. If they would have to switch to another provider, migration would become a real headache, and if they develop their own, it wouldn’t really be a practical decision.

Another challenge they’re facing is the need to create a more integrated, fluid and flexible shopping experience for better sales. The customer journey isn’t limited to in-store and online anymore. With the rise of omnichannel retailing, one’s purchasing cycle goes through multiple channels from awareness to point of conversion. 

This means that a customer may view an item on a brand’s website, then go in-store to see the product in actuality, and finally make the purchase on the app in order for them to reap loyalty rewards through their mobile device. 

In order to satisfy this demand, a brand’s ecommerce and rewards platforms must be in sync and should be built upon further to design engaging shopping experiences for the customers. This may mean going for a “buildable” white-label app (if it even exists)  or developing a fully-custom app of their own. This not only circles back to the problem of flexibility, but it also poses a real concern for cost as well. 

Lastly, with product legalization at its peak, competition has gotten tougher than ever before. Cannabis dispensaries are finding ways to strengthen brand engagement to keep their customers. Giving points for every purchase isn’t cutting it anymore. The current market urges brands to think outside the box to expand their reach and encourage frequent spending. 

These challenges aren’t something current software providers and white-label apps can’t solve altogether. Now that’s a NAY for us.

Our Awesome Solution: An affordable fully custom app that does it all for your cannabis biz

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We here at Digital Awesome are market disruptors. That’s why the team developed a fully-custom cannabis dispensary app product that addresses all those concerns – all at the same time. 

On Flexibility 

With our unique API integration, we can work with the dispensary’s existing service providers. Clients don’t need to worry about switching e-commerce or rewards software providers in order to reap all the benefits. We won’t only bring your store, rewards program and brand content into the app, but we can also build upon it with more brand-spanking new features.

On Creating Unique & Fully-Integrated Shopping Experiences

We will work with you to design the best suite of features for your business model. From e-commerce, marketing, communication, navigational, content, and loyalty/rewards features, we can customize customer experiences to a tee. Here are some of the many features we can build for you:

  •  Custom Mobile Design- Custom app UI/UX design that's unique and fits your brand identity.
  • E-commerce Integration - Full integration with your e-commerce systems & design custom shopping experiences.
  • Rewards System Integration- Innovative & hassle-free integration with your existing rewards platform.
  • Customer Order Tracking-Easily track online orders, curbside and in-store pick-ups.
  • Data-driven Power-Ups- Intuitive upsells, customer recommendations and promotions.
  • Custom Achievements- Create reward-based goals and milestones to boost reach, sales and customer loyalty.
  • Advanced Search Features-Custom category filters and advanced searches on multiple locations.
  • Safe & Secured Notifications- Custom mobile notifications for offers, reminders and cart recovery.
  • Live In-app Chat-Exceptional customer service with real-time chats.
  • Navigation Features-Store locator feature and custom directories.
  • Content Pull-Blog and content management system integration.
  • Feedback Loop-Customer ratings, feedback and store reply for better engagement.
  • Points Accumulation & Redemption-Earn and redeem points from sales and custom achievements.

Given the features above, this app solution poses to be the ultimate driver of sales and engagement. All these sounds expensive right? But believe it or not, compared to traditional mobile app development, brands can save up to 60% in development costs and maintenance with our cannabis dispensary app product. Cannabis dispensaries would only have to invest in an affordable one-time fee and subscribe to our flat-rate subscription for app maintenance that keeps the app in tip-top shape throughout its lifetime. 

If you’re interested to explore this app product for your dispensary business, don’t hesitate to drop us a line and we would be happy to discuss our early adopter program with you.

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