An Interview with LeafLink, The Cannabis Industry Wholesale Leader

Credit: Dope Magazine

In a press release published today on Medium, Leaflink announced a release of its 2020 LeafLink List, an annual cannabis industry award series celebrating the incredible businesses in the LeafLink community and how they’re molding the future of the industry with their expertise and innovation.

This is great news for the cannabis community, especially new to cannabis consumers. In recent years, we have seen headlines and read stories about some not so great things happening in the industry. Sometimes, shopping for quality products isn’t easy, especially in a large industry where brands and companies are popping up daily. 

So, who/what is LeafLink? 

Well, let me explain. LeafLink is the largest source of industry wholesale data in the United States. They work with over 5,600 retailers, 1,700+ brands, across 26 territories in North America, and process over $3.1B in annualized wholesale cannabis orders, an estimated 32% of the US wholesale cannabis market.  

What is the LeafLink List?

The LeafLink List is formed by analyzing products, brands, and retailers on LeafLink’s marketplace, and reviewing data from January 1st to September 1st each year for quantitative categories. The list recognizes Top Selling Enterprise and Emerging Brands, Top Buying and Fastest Growing retailers, and top performing products across 8 popular categories.

Founder and CEO of LeafLink- Ryan Smith, says: 

“LeafLink List is our way of honoring the remarkable brands, distributors, and retailers we work with, who, on a daily basis, help push the industry forward with their hard work and ingenuity.

Check out the LeafLink Press Release here! Check out the exclusive interview with Suzannah Rubinstein, Director of Marketing for LeafLink

Credit: Leaflink- FB page

Ok so- let’s get into what this means for newbies to the cannabis industry: can you explain what a wholesale marketplace is and what wholesale data is?   

As a wholesale marketplace, LeafLink connects over 5,600 licensed cannabis retailers with over 1,700 licensed cannabis brands in 26 markets across North America. We bring the convenience of e-commerce and marketplace technology to the cannabis supply chain so dispensary buyers can log into our platform and order products from multiple brands in one online cart — just like a consumer e-commerce experience. On the seller side, brands on the marketplace are able to centralize their orders and tap into our backend tools like CRM and reporting, among others.

When we talk about wholesale data, we just mean data based on the orders on our marketplace between retailers and brands. It’s a unique dataset in this industry because most of the data that exists is at the retail level, tracking what consumers purchase from dispensaries. Since LeafLink facilitates 32% of wholesale orders in the US, we have the largest wholesale dataset in the country. We’ve actually used the data to create analytics and intelligence tools for the brands on our marketplace, under a suite of products called LeafLink Insights.

Please tell us about the LeafLink system for cannabis businesses.

LeafLink offers solutions that streamline the entire cannabis supply chain, centered around our marketplace. In addition to the marketplace and analytics products, we also have a financial product that helps brands and retailers on the platform optimize their cash flow.”

From 1 order in CO to over a million one year later- that’s huge- how did it happen?

We hit $100M in annualized orders through the platform a little over a year after we had our first order placed in Colorado. The ramp up, and our success to this day, is largely thanks to our ability to scale across multiple markets smoothly. Our technology is built to be State and regulation agnostic. That means we’re able to launch quickly as new markets legalize cannabis because we can easily adapt to their needs.”

Let’s get into the awards- there are a few cannabis awards ceremonies and celebrations throughout the year within the industry- but one thing I noticed with LeafLink- the categories- especially ones I’ve never seen before: Community Favorites and Leaders in Social Responsibility- why this focus?

“LeafLink List is unique for a few key reasons. First, the fact that we have quantitative categories based on orders through the marketplace differentiates our awards from those based on judges’ opinions, which is common in this industry. This comes back to our wholesale dataset — we’re able to tap into this proprietary information to pull things like best-selling and fastest growing brands and products.

The two categories you asked about, Community Favorites and Leaders in Social Responsibility, are new this year! With thousands of cannabis companies in the LeafLink community, we’re in a special position to source qualitative data from our users. 

We like the Community Favorites category because it highlights the brands that were nominated by their retail partners for being great to work with, and vice versa for retailers that brands like to work with. Social Responsibility has been a big focus in the cannabis industry this year, especially around bringing more diversity, equity, and inclusion to the space. We knew we had a lot of customers doing really amazing things that we wanted to showcase.”

November 2020 marked the first ceremony- will we be seeing more ceremonies in the future?

“We’ll have to see how this one goes! Hopefully we’ll be hosting our next one in person once it’s safe to bring the community together.”

What should businesses know about LeafLink? What should cannabis consumers/shoppers know?

“Businesses should know that LeafLink is helping to define a new paradigm for how supply chains can run more efficiently by leveraging concepts that we’re all accustomed to as consumers: e-commerce and marketplaces. 

Consumers should know that 4 out of 5 dispensaries in the U.S use LeafLink to order the products on their shelves. Browse our website and you’re likely to see companies you know among our client list. We make sure the ordering process runs smoothly so they can focus on making great products and creating amazing retail experiences.”

Any 2021 LeafLink plans that you can talk about?

“In the recent election we saw more states legalize both medical and recreational cannabis, so you should see us expand to some of those markets soon. We’re also continuing to invest in improving our marketplace, data, and financial products to best support the cannabis industry as it continues to grow at an exponential rate. You may see us launch some new solutions too, stay tuned!”

Interviewed and Written by: Veronica Castillo

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