SaaS is a continually evolving concept, but increasingly the preferred way to do business. Not only does it make life easier (by making all software, platforms, and programs accessible over an internet connection), but for the SaaS company, it's an excellent revenue model.
Cannabis-focused SaaS companies are no different, although they are often geared toward a B2B audience rather than a B2C. There are exceptions, but so far, the SaaS opportunities are primarily for retailers and cultivators.
2019 Saas Trends in Cannabis
As we near the end of 2019, there have been a few noticeable trends in the evolution of SaaS this year, as detailed by Forbes:
- Hybrid delivery model
- Machine learning
- Product-driven growth
What does this look like in practice? Many companies are now offering free SaaS options, which either end after a trial period or have paid-for upgrades with additional features.
In cannabis, where privacy concerns and regulation are a continually moving target, companies are also working to move information away from international servers back to in-country, or even on-premises, ones. As Forbes described, SaaS companies enabling “customers to control data within databases and data locality.”
Most SaaS these days works with at least some aspect of machine learning. Meaning, the more customers who get on board, the more data can be analyzed for the betterment of the product. This is especially true within the cannabis sector.
Within the cannabis industry, there is also a fourth trend of note: big data. As there is little historical information about the cannabis consumer, everyone is eager to find out who they are and what leads them to make a purchasing decision. There is a considerable demand for big data analysis across all aspects of the industry, from seed to sale. Cannabis SaaS options are building this into their platforms from the get-go.
With the development of several interesting cannabis-specific SaaS options this year, a roundup is in order. Each of these SaaS platforms incorporates one or all of the 2019 Saas trends into their business model. They serve to highlight potential SaaS opportunities for others seeking to enter the space.
Cannabiscope is an extremely powerful educational tool designed with the consumer in mind. Their original tool is an educational experience for customers as they work through a wheel populated with terpenes, cannabinoids, and experiences. The goal is to teach consumers about how terpenes and cannabinoids work to influence experience and effects, guiding the consumer to purchase different products to achieve these effects.
The fully customizable Cannabiscope is already in use in several retail locations and with several online CBD retailers. As a highly informative educational tool, physicians, budtenders, and many other key players also rely on it for product insights.
Cannabiscope has just launched Series A crowdfunding campaign through MicroVentures. The Microventures campaign is aiming to upgrade its user-friendly educational wheel into a fully-integrated e-commerce platform. On trend, this immersive platform will collect information on consumer questions and purchasing habits. This data will build a better wheel, but also inform retailers of what is driving the consumer purchasing decision.
Medical Genomics (Kannapedia and StrainSeek)
Medicinal Genomics launched StrainSeek to compile, analyze, and protect the valuable genetic information hidden within each and every cannabis strain. To publish this information, they launched Kannapedia, a virtual encyclopedia for all the collected strain information gathered through StrainSeek.
By analyzing strain DNA, Medicinal Genomics sets out to do what no other company has done before: understand, categorize, and protect the hundreds (if not thousands) of individual strains on the market today.
Cultivators submit their strain for genetic analysis, which is then entered into a secure blockchain as a means to document the DNA to thwart future patents. The strain report will detail genetic health, lineage, and various plant characteristics — valuable intel for breeding programs and product development.
Again, through this monumental project of genetic data collection, Medicinal Genomics is a continually evolving knowledge database about the DNA of the species. The more submissions they receive, the better the resource becomes for breeders and producers.
An all-in-one system rolling customer management, POS, inventory, and compliance together, Flowhub is working to streamline the backend of the retail cannabis environment. Using the customer’s preferred hardware, the FlowHub software aims to make retail management easy.
It’s a customer check-in and identification portal, a point of sale software, inventory management tool, and a robust suite of business reports.—all connected and all talking to one another, which means much less manual data entry.
Just like every other SaaS in this roundup, Flowhub is also fully compatible with APIs and provides consumer insights through data analysis.
These are only a handful of the many SaaS options available for the cannabis sector today.
- Cannabiscope seeks to educate customers into making a purchase, which feeds a database of key consumer data.
- Medicinal Genomics is working to capture, categorize, analyze, and protect vital strain data in a revolutionary and open manner.
- Flowhub is combining many necessary systems into one easy-to-use and manageable platform, again providing valuable insights to those that use it.
What SaaS opportunities can we from glean from this quick 2019 SaaS roundup? The industry is hungry for data. It is a clear trend for cannabis-focused SaaS platforms this year.
If your SaaS is targeting the cannabis sector and has no machine learning or means of collecting data for market analysis, it's missing a key component. Cannabis data doesn't necessarily need to be the primary means of monetization, but it can be a valuable secondary one.