Capturing Eden got an early start in cannabis retail with two medical clinics they converted to recreational once licensing became available. Spending almost 2 years in the medical space, prior to recreational legalization, provided an opportunity to work within their communities to help remove the stigma associated with cannabis use in general, and to offer education for people even before the product was available.
Capturing Eden has 12 locations in Ontario, and their 4500-sq. ft. Simcoe location, their flagship store, is somewhat centrally located across their impressive expansion. They carry a strong focus on education for the communities they serve, emphasizing the importance of their role in the community. They made an innovative choice to rework half of the Simcoe location into a ‘public education center’.
The new public education centre, currently a work-in-progress, is designed as a safe, compliant, educational space, encouraging people in the community to learn every facet of legal cannabis, from cultivation to product types, accessories, and consumption options. Customers can feel comfortable taking up a budtenders’ time to learn about new products and how they work.
New users don’t need to feel intimidated by not knowing how a dab rig works, what terpenes are, levels of THC and their effects – the list is endless. Customers can go in and get educated by fully trained budtenders who are passionate, not just for sharing their knowledge, but also for helping customers. Their goal is to promote the safe use of the various types of product they sell, without the pressure to purchase.
Elevation is based on Education
It’s an educated consumer who can effectively drive the market to where it’s supposed to go, and that’s what Capturing Eden envisioned when they first got into recreational cannabis. This is their biggest focus, and their slogan, “Elevation is based on Education” helps to further identify this key differentiator. Dylan Haywood, Capturing Eden’s Chief Operating Officer, explains
“I would rather you come in and spend 15 minutes with a budtender and leave knowing more about cannabis than purchasing something that you don’t know about. It’s better to just come in and get educated than buy anything at all.”
“You can feel it in the people when they come in, they almost have that deep-breath feeling of relief because they can actually ask questions and there aren’t stupid questions.”
The public education centre also enables Capturing Eden to take advantage of using the space to liaise with Licensed Producer (LP) reps and build more of a public relationship so they can present their products and meet the team. It’s a creative and useful option for cannabis retail, and a strong differentiator that will ultimately lead to positive gains for the stores, budtenders, LPs, and particularly curious consumers who want safe, expert advice.
Budtender training to connect with your community
CannSell Standard training, a requirement within the province of Ontario, is the only mandated cannabis retail training program in the province. The Expert course, although not required, can be completed in around 15-20 hours. Capturing Eden takes their budtender training to the next level by reimbursing employees for acquiring ‘CannSell Expert’ certification. With Expert-level CannSell training, customers can appreciate that Capturing Eden budtenders will know the right questions to ask because they are experienced advisors on cannabis, its use, handling, and so much more.
Budtenders differentiate the new consumer conversation by developing the ability to gauge whether or not someone is receptive to learning in the first place. They’re listening for key words and getting a sense for the customers’ level of knowledge, so they can guide the conversation, further educate them, and help heighten their experience over time. They can help consumers recapture previous experiences with different strains and product types by offering helpful knowledge and experience-based recommendations.
CannSell Gold certification
This summer, Capturing Eden will be poised to achieve Gold certification from CannSell. Recipients receive a plaque to place inside their stores indicating that over 90% of staff have achieved Expert-level CannSell training. Additionally, Gold-certified cannabis retailers are featured on the CannSell website as one of the sponsors of the country that are committed to cannabis education and safety, which is essentially what defines Capturing Eden in the first place.
At all their locations, Capturing Eden guarantees that all budtenders are just as well-versed as the rest. Their budtenders are all trained to an elite level, and no matter what their preferences are, each of them can speak to any aspect of recreational cannabis with ease and authority. As for software, Greenline University provides a training program for all employee levels, offering an easy, interactive platform to learn the functionality specific to their roles. Having an intuitive software system like Greenline is what makes training and onboarding so simple, coupled with attentive and timely support. Dylan says the Greenline support is great – from sales and onboarding to technical support and development, he adds,
The customer service and personability we get from the staff at Greenline is the kind of relationship that is going to make our business grow, and that’s why we stick with Greenline, because we know that it takes partners, and they have been a great partner this entire time.
Consolidated dashboard for multi-location retailers
The Greenline software system is highly versatile in that it allows for multiple ways to manage the dashboard. Capturing Eden has consolidated their 12 locations into one dashboard in Greenline, and they love it. Dylan says,
“I love it, I love using it, and I find it especially helpful because when we do four orders, we can actually sort the inventory for five stores, instead of going up to every single dashboard and logging in – we definitely appreciate that.”
Ordering strategies using multi-location inventory transfers
It makes sense to pay careful attention to costs when planning the logistics for ordering product for multiple stores, but don’t forget to consider costs associated with distributing product across locations. It’s becoming more commonplace for multi-store retailers to split orders amongst locations when ordering, not only to save money on shipment costs, but also on taxes. Store transfers are an easy way to balance inventory for all locations, and with Greenline’s multi-location dashboard, inventory transfers are easily facilitated.
When you have multiple locations, you also need to consider the variety of demographic types associated with your stores. Because their budtenders are very educated and passionate about the experience, Capturing Eden does their best to focus on value and quality education, giving them a path to better consumer selection, and subsequently stronger customer retention – setting them apart from other cannabis retailers in the regions they serve. Learn more about different ways to manage multiple locations in Greenline here.
Customer retention – show your customers you care
Value doesn’t mean lowest cost, and Capturing Eden also brings in craft cannabis as part of their ordering strategy because some customers want craft no matter what. If they want it, Capturing Eden will stock it, even though it has a higher price point. Consumer buying habits typically drive the ordering decisions so it’s important to stock what customers want at each location.
At one of their busier locations, Capturing Eden has a lot of customers that buy ounces, so if they run out of stock Dylan says,
“We definitely acknowledge that our customers are still our customers, so if they have to buy an ounce out of 3.5 or 7gram units, we are definitely not charging full price for it. We give them 10 or 15% off so that it doesn’t feel so painful.”
Luckily for them, and for the customer, it’s a solid strategy and their ordering process consistently works out.
Like many cannabis retailers in Ontario, Capturing Eden has a single owner and operates as a small business, being very careful with how much they spend, and on what. They want to give their customers a quality experience, and that includes pricing, ensuring they will have repeat business.
“We want to play the game of fairness, so we do our best to stay as close to, if not better than, the price that the OCS has. The reps are always happy with our margins, and there are lots of products that we could probably slip in an extra 10 percent, but that’s not what proves to the customer that we’re in this together.”
The power of reports
As with any great software system, Greenline is constantly evolving to keep the system updated, powerful, and useful for the end-user. Dylan finds the financial reports are the ones they use the most and he appreciates that they’re definitely more granular than when they first started.
Greenline focuses on customer needs, operations requirements, and having an easy-to-use interface so budtenders can easily and swiftly move through the educating and selling aspects of the process simultaneously. Along with financial reports, Dylan adds,
“We also like using the inventory on-hand report, it works very well for communicating stock with reps and organizing promos because it’s so easy to export that information instead of having to write it all up. Especially with 12 locations, it’s nice that it just pulls all the data, all at once.”
As a cannabis retailer, it’s paramount that your compliance reporting is easy, fast, and accurate, and with constant requirement changes, Greenline is proud to provide a seamless process designed to save time and increase efficiency. Dylan says,
“Compliance reporting in Greenline is amazing. I used to spend almost 10 hours every four weeks doing reports, and now I’m spending 45 minutes. The work really is almost nonexistent. I don’t worry, and I can do way more stuff now, it’s beautiful.”
Auditing and accountability
Retailers need to be diligent with their inventory and set a plan for regular audits. Capturing Eden audits their stores every week. It may not be obvious for new retailers to do regular audits, but it lends to accountability. Budtenders can’t be expected to remember sales from several months previous, Dylan adds,
No matter what, I don’t ever want to go back a number of days to look at a specific sale, so we do it every week. It’s not logical to try and find discrepancies on security cameras later. At the end of the month, if they’re busy, then an audit must be done on the last day of the month or the first day, so they either have to end with an audit or start fresh – no matter what.
This is an important protocol for any store to maintain consistency and it also keeps you aware of your stock. Dylan says,
“It especially helps when you’re ordering because we submit different orders, so it’s nice for us to be able to look through and see the stock that’s moving, and make sure there aren’t mistakes with orders.”
Inventory management and data
You can’t go wrong with more data and Capturing Eden has been watching the progression of Greenline for two years now, and they’re satisfied they have all the reports they need. When analyzing the inventory, they mostly use their audits because they do them weekly.
In addition to its robust set of reporting tools, Greenline has a new Reorder report which provides a breakdown of recommended products to reorder based on sales trends. Capturing Eden also uses Headset business analytics software for overall market data, as it comes included with the Greenline system. They find it helpful to see the daily sales, the highest sold product, the top-selling budtenders, etc., and they appreciate the automated emails.
Customer-driven tech improvements in Greenline software | POS Searchability
Greenline always strives to listen to customers and address customer feature requests, as this forms the basis of the core development in the system. POS Searchability was one of the features that Dylan, thankfully, worked closely on with Greenline for the beta version, to refine and enhance the full functionality – based on real-world operations management in cannabis retail.
The improved POS Search feature is a powerful tool and gives users more control with the ability to filter and sort their selections instantly. When asked how their budtenders liked using Greenline’s enhanced POS Searchability feature, Dylan said,
The POS searchability has been a great functionality for our budtenders. Previously, they used the kiosk, or they went to the online menu themselves, now they’re able to feel like they know their stock. When an order comes in, or when someone comes in and asks us what ounces are available, it’s beautiful to be able to sort by gram.
Budtender scan rate
Among Greenline’s rich feature set is having the ability to track the scan rates of budtenders. Capturing Eden budtenders are held accountable to a 90% successful scan rate. Dylan attributes the benefit to using this feature as a strong safeguard to be able to identify inventory that hasn’t been accounted for. He adds,
“We’ve been able to trace back all purchases and stock for compliance, which has been extremely helpful.”
Digital menus – THC values, menu curation and management
Menu curation based on consumer selection is always a critical component to cannabis retail success. Having transitioned from using an integrated digital menu service, Capturing Eden manages their own in-house menu in a creative way – using Google Slides. They add THC values onto the menus that are set fresh weekly, ensuring that there aren’t any leftover values. Using Google Slides enables Capturing Eden to manage their menus from anywhere. It’s a strong benefit for them to be able to see exactly what’s showing on every single screen, at every store, instead of relying on somebody else to identify any discrepancies. They are no longer faced with challenges such as menu syncing, old menus being displayed, and monthly costs for an integrated version. To improve this style of menu updates, they are currently working on developing an ad version so they can run ads from LPs.
Shopfitting and Security – keeping your store and staff safe
Physical security requirements in cannabis retail, although required, are necessary to keep your store and your staff safe. In keeping with their community focus, Capturing Eden has built relationships with local security providers, giving them flexibility considering their rural presence. When they build out their stores, depending on the size and look of the store, they have two options for setting up the safe where it is either a pass-through style, (on the same level) or kept separate on its own, so budtenders would either be running the safe or going to the safe to get the product. Stores that are single-floored will have a password, so no budtender leaves the till – someone will pass it to you. With safety in mind, no cannabis is displayed on the floor. Capturing Eden finds that the sensory displays are not cost-effective, because not only are the containers expensive, but as soon as you open it, the scent is gone, and ultimately the product would require on-site, on-camera disposal, which is essentially wasteful. It’s much more valuable to have a highly trained budtender share their knowledge with the consumer and open the discussion to product options and safe use.
Promotions and advertising in cannabis retail – keeping loyalty simple
In an effort to avoid fines and retain their retail license, cannabis retailers need to be on top of regulations when it comes to promotions and advertising. Being very mindful of compliance, Capturing Eden keeps their ‘preferred customer’ program simple. They custom design their own program using Greenline’s built-in loyalty features to help manage customer details, and they use a 5-circle promo card to drive repeat business. Customers can get 5% off every visit, and 10% off on the 5th and 10th visits. Completed cards are automatically entered for a giveaway at that store, held monthly. By not spending on other loyalty programs, they can justify giving away free and unique items to their frequent customers. For example, this month at the Halliburton store, they’re giving away a projector!
They created a bi-monthly newsletter so customers can sign up, by their own volition, once they have placed an order online. For in-store promotion, they cleverly provide select items that can be purchased as part of a ‘clearance sale’ but with a quantity limit so everyone can have an opportunity to participate. For the recent Halloween weekend, they featured strains with Halloween-themed names and put them on sale. It’s a smart, simple strategy that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance as they’re able to retain full control with discounts in Greenline.
Dylan stressed his caution around loyalty programs and data, as he is against the collection of data, and very cautious of how it is handled. For this reason, they don’t rely on the more popular loyalty programs, like Greenline’s Springbig and Alpine IQ integrations, to drive repeat business. They like that even though Greenline is now a BLAZE company, it’s still maintained in Canada, as is the data, giving retailers confidence that the software focus, and feature set, will always be ahead of Canada’s changing rules and regulations – ensuring the POS system will continue to function in a fully compliant manner.
Supporting communities with innovative sponsorship
Capturing Eden has sponsored quite a few innovative and thoughtful community events. To show their community support, every year they sponsor the Minden and Haliburton Community Curling Clubs in a fun and unique way, with their logo placed in the ice of the curling rink. They also sponsor disc golf tournaments in each community by providing gift cards where they can encourage having customers come by and buy whatever they want. This way, Capturing Eden retains the control, making sure that the person receiving any product is of age and everything is legal. They never have to worry about the wrong person getting cannabis because once they go to the store, they need to show their ID, and Capturing Eden is confident knowing that with CannSell-licensed budtenders, and their own strict protocol set in place, ID will be checked.
Supporting communities with thoughtful donations
For holidays, and especially for Christmas, Capturing Eden allocates the proceeds of sale events to donate to various causes. They are thoughtful in their approach and target places that are forgotten, or not commonly associated with donation programs like food banks. They like to support The Women’s Shelter and The Children’s Aid Society – they need Christmas gifts too. They’re contributing in a positive way and using their profits not only to make the business grow, but to let the community know that they are there for them.
A people-focused company
Capturing Eden hasn’t seen much staff turnover, even with 12 locations, and it’s because they pay attention to the needs of their budtenders. They know what it takes to make a budtender successful, from supplemented training reimbursement to choosing Greenline software, so they can use a solid software program that’s intuitive, easy to use, and designed to empower budtenders. That’s not all, they provide discounts for their budtenders, and even more impressive, they provide benefits that everyone eventually qualifies for, including their seasonal staff. Capturing Eden is passionate about their commitment to cannabis education, safe consumption, and their connection to the communities they serve – proven by their successful and rapid expansion over the last two years. As Dylan says, “We’re selling an experience.”
Check out Capturing Eden’s Budtender Corner for reviews and educational posts on everything cannabis related.
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by Lisa Martyn | Greenline