Marijuana Business Magazine September 2018

RETAIL BUS¬NESS STRATEG¬ES A fter co-founding Toronto-based Namaste Technologies as a modest e-commerce site more than a decade ago, Sean Dollinger made a series of moves that propelled the company from a garage-based vapor- izer shop to what some have dubbed the “Amazon of cannabis.” Today, the company sells vaporizers and smok- ing accessories through more than 30 websites in 20-plus countries, including Canada, Britain, Australia and Brazil. Dollinger helped build the brand by: • Establishing a presence in up- and-coming markets. • Deploying artificial intelligence to improve shoppers’ experiences. • Relying on technology to bolster inventory management. • Beefing up customer service and relying on third-party review sys- tems to keep customer feedback transparent. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Toronto-based Namaste Technologies sells vaporizers and smoking accessories through more than 30 websites in 20-plus countries, including Canada, Britain, Australia and Brazil. The company has been dubbed the “Amazon of cannabis” and is expanding into new lines of business, such as retail sales of medical marijuana. Namaste has used the following strategies to expand: • Sought a first-mover advantage in newly emerging markets such as Britain and Australia. • Deployed artificial intelligence (AI) to improve online shoppers’ experiences. To do so, Namaste paid $12 million to acquire Findify, a Swedish company that uses AI to study user behavior to personalize online experiences. • Relied on technology known as Application Program Interfaces (APIs) to improve inventory management and become more profitable. • Beefed up customer service and relied on third-party review systems to keep customer feedback transparent. The company is also wading into new markets beyond vaporizers and accessories. It plans to enter the retail medical marijuana space in Canada through its 2017 acquisition of CannMart, a deal that will allow Namaste to sell MMJ from a variety of producers both from Canada and abroad. The company also rolled out NamasteMD, a telemedicine portal that connects Canadian MMJ patients with doctors; the portal has attracted 6,000 registered users since it launched in the spring. In recent months, in fact, Namaste has issued a flurry of news releases covering acquisitions, partnerships and other news. In late July, for example, Namaste submitted paperwork to list on the Nasdaq Capital Market. In the nine months through May, the com- pany rang up sales of $11.2 million ‘Amazon of Cannabis’? Online retailer Namaste Technologies relies on technology and early mover advantage to expand global reach, enter new markets By Claire Zulkey (CA$14.6 million), more than double the amount of a year earlier. “Hard work really does pay off, that’s all I’ll say,” Dollinger said. Hunt for New Markets Soon after its founding in 2005, Namaste was moving three or four vaporizers per day. Shortly after going public in 2016 – Namaste trades on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the U.S. over-the-counter markets and Canada’s Sean Dollinger is the co-founder and CEO of online retailer Namaste Technologies. Photo courtesy of Namaste Technologies 96 • Marijuana Business Magazine • September 2018