The cannabis industry has always been at the forefront of technology and innovation. This has never been more apparent than during the Covid-19 pandemic, when cannabis retailers were forced to reconcile the conflict between mandated storefront closures and essential business status. By relying on the integration of technology and existing alternatives to conventional in-person shopping, the cannabis industry didn’t just meet the challenges of the pandemic – they transformed them into business opportunities
While online ordering, curbside pickup, drive thru, and delivery services are nothing new for commercial businesses, the successful rapid adoption of these practices into cannabis operations across the country was impressive, to say the least. Now, the cannabis industry has its eyes on another proven alternative to in-person retail transactions – unattended retail.
Otherwise known as ‘vending machines,’ unattended retail has been a part of casual commerce for decades, used for everything from food/beverage purchases, movie rentals, hygiene products, and more. Providing an unparalleled level of convenience for consumers, unattended retail eliminates the need to visit a brick-and-mortar establishment to buy the things you use the most.
Unattended Retail for Age Restricted Products
Using unattended retail for age restricted products is also nothing new, although considerably less common in the U.S. today than their non-restricted counterparts. Cigarette vending machines were first developed in 1926 by William Rowe, who went on to found the first manufacturing company in the U.S. to mass produce unattended retail machines for tobacco. However, due to the inability of these machines to verify the age of the consumer, these devices have become relatively rare and are typically only found in places that restrict minors from entering (such as bars, clubs, etc.).
But in light of the increased danger posed to consumers by direct-contact purchases during the pandemic, there has been a renewed interest in developing solutions to the problem of age verification and unattended retail for products like alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis.
By relying on advancements in digital ID verification tools, the cannabis industry is once again demonstrating their aptitude for innovation and creative problem solving. With the right age verification resources integrated into high-tech unattended retail solutions, cannabis vending machines have already become a reality in many areas around the country.
How to Verify Age with Unattended Cannabis Retail
Aside from growing their businesses, the number one priority for all cannabis companies should be maintaining compliance with all federal, state, and local regulations. Unattended cannabis retail machines are a great opportunity for expanding sales and maximizing profit, but ensuring that minors are unable to make a purchase prior to deploying these machines is absolutely critical.
That’s why cannabis retailers are partnering with experts in the ID verification industry to implement effective solutions for unattended retail that help ensure regulatory compliance. So how does it work?
Verifying IDs at unattended cannabis retail machines relies on the integration of AI software, biometric analysis, and image processing applications. Customers at the point of purchase are first required to upload a digital image of a valid ID into the verification provider/cannabis retailer’s online interface. When making a purchase, biometric face scanning technology matches the consumer with the ID on file and the transaction can be completed.
In addition to facial biometrics, some cannabis retailers also require fingerprint biometrics, which can then be used to quickly verify identity for repeat purchases. Other solutions used by retailers include the integration of cryptocurrency, requiring customers to use a unique digital currency to complete a purchase. This currency can only be used at these machines, is non-transferrable, and can only be purchased after completing an age verification process.
Currently, the use of facial and fingerprint biometric verification that matches customers with verified ID data every time a purchase is made is the most effective way to successfully deploy an unattended cannabis retail machine.
Additional Benefits – Data Collection
Aside from expanding the reach of a cannabis establishment beyond the walls of the dispensary, cannabis vending machines also provide retailers with an incredibly valuable tool for consumer data collection. Not only does the age verification process gather demographic information about verified consumers, but it also requires the use of personal mobile devices at the point of purchase.
When a verified customer uses their mobile device at a machine, retailers can leverage device information to deploy geo-location marketing tactics and consumer retargeting ad activations. Additionally, cannabis companies with access to mobile device data can discover which digital publications and social media platforms customers are using, improving the effectiveness of ad purchases and placements.
The Future of Cannabis Retail
As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, balancing age restriction regulations with customer convenience will remain a primary focus for businesses and consumers alike. Unattended retail machines are an integral part of this, providing opportunities for cannabis purchases in places that would have otherwise been impossible, such as cruise ships, casinos, and hotels.
Cannabis companies hoping to take advantage of these opportunities will need to rely on the expertise of companies on the forefront of the digital ID verification industry.
Reach out to an expert at IDScan.net to get started on your unattended retail journey today.