With customers in more than 20 states and more than $3 billion of cannabis sales processed annually, Leaf Trade is the largest B2B order management and wholesale platform in the industry.
The product is particularly popular among multi-state operators, including some of the largest in the industry, due to its ability to streamline business operations throughout the sales process, from ordering and payment to advertising and post-sale reporting.
“We’re really helping foster that connection between buyers and sellers of cannabis throughout the country,” says Brian Ward, the company’s chief financial officer.
But Leaf Trade lacked a consumer-facing component that its large-scale clients could use to connect with consumers, or even use to connect inventories from store to store.
“We kept hearing those pain points,” says Ward. “And as we thought about it, we realized, ‘Okay, there might be a solution here.’”
In a first-of-its-kind, game-changing consolidation, Leaf Trade recently merged with Sweed, a powerful, full-stack B2C platform that includes e-commerce, point-of-sale technology and loyalty program, to create a single solution for customers.
“We’re bringing two unique solutions together,” Ward says. “What we set out to do here is really pull the wholesale on the B2B side with the consumer side.”
Founded in Chicago in 2016, Leaf Trade was designed to improve the process of buying and selling cannabis for retailers and producers. Ward calls Leaf Trade an “order management engine” that supports cannabis cultivators through an easy-to-use, wholesale marketplace that connects cultivators and dispensaries, helping to amplify brands through advertising opportunities as well as supporting inventory management and providing robust, advanced analytics.
“And as a buyer, it’s one platform that you can go to and place all of your orders at once,” he says. “A retailer could spend a short amount of time on our platform and have all of their orders done for the next week or two weeks out.”
With industry-leading integrations with BioTrack and Metrc, the company’s profile and customer base grew quickly, particularly among the largest vertically integrated operators in the United States who need to “sell” product to themselves through Leaf Trade’s inventory management and order management features.
Sweed, meanwhile, is a private-label platform with three distinct modules: Point of sale, marketing and loyalty and e-commerce/delivery, as well as in-store kiosks, native apps and analytics, all designed and built specifically to solve challenges cannabis dispensaries face.
“Every customer we have uses all of these,” says Ward, noting that Sweed can help them consolidate multiple platforms. “It’s very powerful tech. It has second-mover advantage.”
Sweed also uses a proprietary data engine that allows for targeted promotions.
And like Leaf Trade, the Sweed platform specializes in serving vertically integrated cannabis companies and dispensaries with multiple locations.
“The more and more that we started talking about a potential partnership, we realized that we could really unlock a lot of value if we brought the two companies together,” Ward says.
Unlike many technology acquisitions and consolidations, Ward says the Leaf Trade–Sweed fusion is a “merger of equals” that creates a product bigger than the sum of its parts, something he sees as “transformational” for customers.
“The two companies really had various strengths that we’re able to put together and they’re highly complementary,” he says. “We’re bringing two unique solutions together.”
Ward says there is still work to be done to maximize the platforms’ combined potential, but customers of both products are excited about the merger and have already begin seeing “early wins,” like creating and approving an order in Leaf Trade and then pushing it to Sweed to streamline the inventory receipt process, or for large, vertically integrated companies to process orders to themselves more efficiently.
Ward says both companies realized there was an opportunity to do something truly unique with the merger, adding that Sweed, with its focus on the customer and creating an experience for the brands and dispensaries, shares a similar ethos with Leaf Trade. Ward, who was a customer of the product before he joined the company, says what resonated with him about Leaf Trade was that the company was always listening to customer needs. Sweed shares that focus, working solely to help dispensaries have a seamless transaction with shoppers.
“Our customers right now are tasked to do more with less, and that’s not lost on us,” Ward says. “We have the ability to try and make everybody’s job easier, whether you’re a retailer or a wholesaler, whether you’re in sales or a budtender.”