CannaTech Expo 2022 Takeaways: “There’s a massive play now in point of sale”

By: Jim Roddy, President & CEO at the RSPA

You want to get soaking wet? Don’t use a teaspoon to drip water on your head. Instead, jump into the deep end of the pool. You want to learn about cannabis technology? Then immerse yourself in a cannabis-focused show like I did at CannaTech Expo 2022, one of 11 co-located events comprising the ITEXPO TECHSUPERSHOW held June 21-24 at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

I spent 10 hours in CannaTech Expo 2022 education sessions, learning a ton from experienced cannabis technology solution providers, including several members of the RSPA Cannabis Community. Scroll down for rapid-fire takeaways applicable to retail IT VARs and ISVs looking to take advantage of the fast-growing cannabis market.

Keynote: Cannabis Business & Technology 101

  • “The cannatechnology landscape certainly turned the last couple years during the pandemic and is going to continue to evolve. Some places you can buy cannabis off a food truck.” Michael Rosenfeld, CannaVu
  • “The persona of the cannabis consumer is evolving – there’s a thing now called Chardonnay Moms who dispensaries now need to serve.” Rosenfeld
  • “Dispensaries are leaving the liquor store mentality and entering more of a retailer phase. It’s an amazing time for cannatechnology. It’s a great time for us to provide our expertise to an industry that is so, so young.” Rosenfeld
  • “You’re not competing against the mega companies because cannabis isn’t federally legal. This is a super ripe time to get into this space. There’s a lot of opportunity to grow in this space.” Rosenfeld
  • “Right now, POS is the strongest play in the tech space. Dispensaries need to be customer-facing with loyalty and they need data to help their sales and operations. There’s a massive play now in point of sale.” Rosenfeld
  • The top areas to focus on in cannatech today: compliance, traceability, security, and point of sale. Harry Brelsford, The CannaTech Group

Cannabis Business Best Practices

  • “Resellers need to educate their dispensaries on what steps they need to take to own their own data. If you own your data, you know customer preferences and can act on those.” Jerry Abiog, Standard Insights
  • “When many dispensaries run into a problem, their solution is to hire another employee. They don’t know what else to do. We can help them with technology solutions and standard operating procedures.” Randy Roe, Combase USA
  • “Really, how good is a solution if it’s all cobbled together? That’s a downward slope to failure.” Abiog
  • “What the cannabis industry needs is professionals like you to provide your expertise and best practices to their operations.” Roe

State of the Cannabis Vertical with Dr. Paul Seaborn

  • “Cannabis legalization in the United States is like a mad experiment. ‘Let’s try one thing in this state, try something different in another state, and see what happens.’” Seaborn
  • “The people in this room should be interested in not just legalization of cannabis but the commercialization of it.” Seaborn
  • Two paths to federal legalization: 1) Let states choose their own rules; defer to the states. 2) Establish federal rules that supersede state laws; the longer the federal government waits, the more difficult this path will be. Seaborn

Don’t miss the retail IT channel’s #1 trade show, education conference, and networking event July 24-26 in Orlando! Visit the RetailNOW 2022 website and register today.

Killer Video Surveillance Solutions

  • “Infrastructure for the cannabis industry is crucial. In California, if your internet goes down, you have to stop selling because real-time reporting is a requirement.” Luis Alvarez, Alvarez Technology Group/Veo Verde Technology
  • “Cannabis decision makers like when they see you focus on cannabis, not saying you’re all things to all people.” Alvarez
  • “We not only supply video surveillance technology to our clients, but we add managed services on top of that. We tell them we will monitor and provide necessary reports to the state.” Alvarez
  • “We are in the business of making our client’s lives easier and reducing their complexity. The AI video solution we sell enabled our client to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and stay compliant.” Alvarez

Real-World MSP Use Cases

  • “Most of our cannabis clients come to us after nobody’s been managing their IT. We provide a level of maturity to their operations, and usually we go in and take over everything IT.” Blake Schwank, Colorado Computer Support
  • “Banking clients don’t argue with you when you have a solution the FDIC requires. Cannabis is getting to that place with their regulations.” Alvarez
  • “We rarely meet (cannabis) owners. They’re like mystery people. We meet the people managing the operation.” Schwank
  • “I was asked at the RetailNOW show last year, ‘Aren’t you worried about working in the cannabis industry?’ My reply was, ‘We deliver services no matter what market our client works in.’” Dan Foote, DanTech Services
  • “Typically you’re the only tech guy at the table if you join a cannabis association. When an IT question is asked, everyone at the table will turn their head and look to you for the answer.” Alvarez
  • “Being on (the RSPA Cannabis Community) call every month with 50 or 60 other solution providers focused on the cannabis space, that’s powerful.” Foote
  • “The owner will say, ‘I want it done right, I want it done right, I want it done right,’ and then they go and move around the technology themselves without knowing how it works.” Foote

Compliance is King (to your Opportunities and Profits)

  • “RFID can be a benefit beyond inventory. You can pair the readers with the camera systems to monitor loss prevention from employees.” Duane Roebuck, BlueStar
  • “One of the biggest compliance risks in retail is tracing and tracking everything in the back office. Sometimes you have budtenders trying to do inventory management, and that’s not a good thing.” Sterling Stoudenmire, MSP advisor
  • “If you establish expertise in this market and help your clients comply with the rules in a regulated industry, you’ll do well because your competition is only Chuck in a Truck or Dan in a Van.” Alvarez
  • “Some of our VARs have figured out targeting to sell to the dispensary isn’t the best thing. If they sell to the distributor of the cannabis products, you can get bigger deals – they’re pushing out a million labels a month.” Roebuck
  • “Owners are more analytics-focused than anybody else working in the dispensary. VARs who provide solutions that produce those analytics have to call that out during the sales process.” Roebuck

Cannabis Analytics Are Your Friend

  • “The cannabis industry is essentially flying blind because of a lack of analytics.” Stoudenmire
  • “I’ve converted retailers to a data-driven model using analytics, and we increased their sales. Following the data increases all the key revenue metrics of a retailer.” Roe
  • “Dispensaries can’t use a credit card as a marker to track the customer because transactions are mostly cash. And because your customer wants to remain anonymous, that makes loyalty difficult.” Stoudenmire
  • “You basically can only do market basket analysis so the retailer can understand better how to upsell those products with each other. Your POS system has to capture the data and then enable AI to analyze it.” Stoudenmire

There were even more lessons shared at the CannaTech Expo, but I moderated three education panels and couldn’t exactly take notes and speak at the same time.

If you missed the CannaTech Expo, don’t fret – this isn’t your only opportunity to immerse yourself in a VAR- and ISV-focused cannabis technology event. The cannabis vertical will be a focal point at the RSPA’s RetailNOW 2022 show, set for July 24-26 in Orlando. Sunday night (July 24) at RetailNOW features the RSPA Cannabis Community Networking Reception followed by dedicated cannatech education sessions Monday and Tuesday (July 25-26).

Don’t hesitate to learn more about this emerging market. Instead, you should dive right in!

Don’t forget to register for RetailNOW 2022, July 24-26 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando. It’s Where The Industry Meets!

Jim Roddy is the President and CEO of the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the retail IT channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as an RSPA board member, one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board, and several years as a business coach for VARs, ISVs, and MSPs. Jim has been recognized as one of the world’s Top 100 Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by 420MSP, and is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences on SMB best practices. He is author of two books – The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer – and is host of the award-winning RSPA Trusted Advisor podcast. For more information, contact