Retailer launches CBD vending machines

Consumers can buy snacks, cosmetics and headphones from vending machines, so why not CBD?
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Consumers can buy snacks, cosmetics and headphones from vending machines, so why not CBD? Loveland-based CBD retailer Plenty Wellness recently unveiled its automated retail channel for selling cannabidiol products, Plenty Wellness Express. The kiosk, which currently has one location at FlatIron Crossing shopping center in Broomfield, operates 24/7 and can be managed from anywhere with an internet connection.

“We foresaw the trend that traditional brick and mortar is not a long-term viable solution,” says Chris Cox, CEO of Plenty Wellness. “We had to find one that allowed us to actively compete in the retail space while reducing operational expenses and we really wanted to reach our customers where they already shop.”

Cox and CFO Dan Porter spent five years researching the vending and automated retail space to find the right hardware and software combination. They also worked on details such as machine placement, stocking and marketing. The kiosks are unstaffed, and shoppers order through a touchscreen.

The machines sell Plenty Wellness products as well as CBD products from other brands. While the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting temporary mall closure dampened sales, the company is optimistic about growth. The business model includes finding investors to install Plenty Wellness Express units in high-traffic locations such as shopping centers and airports. For another revenue generator, the kiosks also have 55-inch digital marketing screens available for advertising.

Cox and his wife, Rachel, own the store in Loveland. They launched Plenty Pharma, now called Plenty Wellness, after Chris suffered injuries from a car accident and found that CBD could help with pain management. Chris Cox and Dan Porter also own Automate IQ, which makes the hardware and software for the kiosks.

CBD is booming. According to Boulder-based BDS Analytics, U.S. sales of cannabis- and hemp-derived CBD products is predicted to increase from $1.9 billion in 2018 to $20 billion by 2024, a compound annual growth rate of 49%.

In the next 12 months, Plenty Wellness plans to have Express automated retail kiosks in 300 gyms, grocery stores, malls and other locations. “We can go where other retailers cannot,” Porter says. “We see a future where every consumer in the USA can access high quality wellness products through our kiosks at multiple stops along their daily commute.”

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