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The Downfall of Cannabis Marketplaces

03.24.20233 min read

Online marketplaces have existed since 1995 when Craigslist and eBay were founded. Traditionally speaking, marketplaces don't own any inventory—they present the stock of other businesses and facilitate transactions. Almost 30 years later, the cannabis industry is saturated with online marketplaces.

Online marketplaces were curated to offer digital foot traffic and convenience to businesses and their customers, but there are many disadvantages to this business model. Though these online marketplaces are the standard, they have started to fail in the eyes of sellers.

Existing marketplaces offer limited customization options and catalog structures, meaning sellers have limited control over how they build their online presence. A seller may want to customize pages for individual products, but this is all controlled by the marketplace. Many dispensaries that use these marketplaces and subsequent iframes are easily distinguished for their cookie-cutter appearance. The ability to differentiate a brand in a marketplace is almost nonexistent.

Sellers using these marketplaces also miss out on search engine optimization (SEO) opportunities for their business. SEO is the process of improving website and product visibility in search engines. Sellers using online marketplaces do not have control over where their products are shown on pages—leaving their visibility up to the marketplace. The worst part about this is that many dispensary owners turn toward pricey PPC model advertising on prominent cannabis platforms that provide little to no residual value. Pay monthly, or else you lose.

One of the biggest problems with online marketplaces for businesses is that their customers are not their customers—they're the marketplace's customers. The marketplace typically owns all customer data, and sellers cannot access or export it. If a seller wants to view a buyer's email address, order log, purchase frequency, or average invoice, they're out of luck. Customer data and analytics are essential for driving business, and businesses using marketplaces lose this opportunity. 

The good news about Salve? We're not an online marketplace. Salve exists to change these standards and decentralize the industry back into the hands of the operators with seamless commerce technologies. We focus on being the best partner possible to our partners and customers.

At Salve, we believe cannabis companies should own their data, allowing them to control their customer experience practices. Having transparency into customer buying behavior gives cannabis companies leverage to meet consumer needs on an evolving basis. By accessing this data, companies can provide customers with a more personal experience—from recommending new products to implementing targeted sales strategies. 

Salve's front-end experience is entirely customizable, facilitating all orders, including pickup, in-store, and delivery. We empower business owners to choose technologies that work for them and then streamline them into a single platform—Salve. 

If you want to learn more, getting started is really easy. Reach out and tell us more about your cannabis business. We're here to help.

Niki Avatar

Niki Rogers

CEO / Co-Founder @Salve

Niki is a serial entrepreneur and cannabis enthusiast with a passion for storytelling through branding and UI/UX design.

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