Vendor Spotlight 67: Greenlane

08
May

IN THE FAST LANE

Distribution giant Greenlane just made a big acquisition and now it’s bringing more sophisticated logistics to the smoke-shop industry. Because no shop should have empty shelves, right?

At Greenlane, one of the smoke shop industry’s preeminent and prolific distributors, they’ve always been looking toward the future. It was true when founder/CEO Aaron LoCascio became one of the early vaporizer distributors nearly 15 years ago and it’s true today, as Greenlane tries to step its game up to a level unforeseen in the industry.

Greenlane used to be known as Vape World, a company that a then-19-year-old LoCascio started when he discovered the famous Volcano Vaporizer and sensed the opportunity to sell it online. He then spent the next decade immersing himself in and pushing innovation within the vaporizer industry.

These days, the scope of everything is so much bigger. Vape World became Greenlane two years ago because the company had been selling way more than vaporizers. In a post-vape world, Greenlane had bigger aspirations.

It didn’t just want to be the one-stop distributor for the best vaporizers on the planet, it wanted to make the day-to-day operations of every smoke shop easier, more efficient and more modern.

“The industry is becoming more sophisticated every day,” says Sasha Kadey, Greenlane’s Chief Marketing Officer. “We’re just doing our best to help that evolution.”

Greenlane has mastered the product side of things. From the early days, it’s been a trailblazer in bringing brands to market — names like G Pen, Pax and Firefly became hits with the Greenlane co-sign. Today, the company is the place to find Higher Standards, Dr. Dabber, Double Barrell, OTTO, Levo Oil, Eyce, Storz & Bickel, OTO, Marley Natural and more.

But there’s more to business than just having the best products. There’s logistics too. And that’s where Greenlane is now trying to flex its muscle.

“We’re solving a lot of peoples’ problems,” Kadey says.

 

A NEW ACQUISITION

Recently, Greenlane took another step toward its goals by acquiring another vape-industry giant — Vapor Nation. Vapor Nation has a big presence online just like VapeWorld.com continues to. But Vapor Nation also offered something else: A big West Coast distribution hub that would complement Greenlane’s headquarters in Florida.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Vapor Nation,” Kadey says. “We’ve always respected the way they’ve done business. It just felt like a natural fit.”

The goal here: Speed.

Greenlane wants to be able to reach retailers across the country quickly. What’s made Amazon such a go-to retailer? The fact that you know you can buy something and it will most likely be on your doorstep in two days.

Greenlane isn’t trying to be Amazon, per se. Rather, it’s trying to take many of the best traits of mainstream companies and bring them into the smoke-shop industry — to expedite purchasing for retail shops and to make it so shelves don’t sit around empty waiting for product to arrive.

“In this business, there’s a big premium on speed,” Kadey says. “They’ve come to expect it from us. It’s a point of differentiation.”

With offices on both coasts and Canada, with over 200 employees and more on the way, with six distribution hubs in the U.S., Greenlane can reach 90 percent of its customers with two-day shipping or quicker. Seventy percent can get products in one day.

They’re relying on automation and modern technology to fill orders quick and, in turn, fill shelves.

“It’s in our best interest to get our customers products as quickly as possible,” Kadey says. “If their products sit empty for five days, then you’re losing 20 percent of sales for that month.”

 

RAISING THE BAR

We all know the following is true:

“This industry still doesn’t have the most advanced systems,” Kadey says. “In a lot of other industries, people can plan their shipping needs.”

But in the smoke-shop world, some shops are still getting coast-to-coast shipments that take 5-7 days. That’s not a world Greenlane wants its customers to live in.

“A lot of our key retailers were telling us they had a big problem with vendor management,” Kadey says. “They were working with hundreds of distributors. That’s unheard of in any other industry. A convenience store might have 8,000 SKUs and deal with seven or eight distributors. A smoke shop might have 2,000 to 3,000 SKUs and have 300 different vendors. It’s really inefficient. Our customers were telling us, hey, we’d like to buy more stuff from you.”

So Greenlane is rising to that challenge. As it put an emphasis on logistics, it hired a new COO, who came from a third-party logistics company. Then Greenlane started to study companies like Frito Lay and Pepsi to see how they represent a portfolio of brands and cover huge chunks of what a convenience store might need.

It also studied Zappos and its e-commerce success, learning how important it is to beat its own shipping estimates to make customers happy.

“Execution is everything,” Kadey says.

So Greenlane wants to become the one-stop shop for smoke-shop retailers. And it wants to do the same for dispensaries, who have a finite space for goods and want to make sure they have the right products.

This isn’t a short game, either. Greenlane has been a leader in the industry for more than a decade. As it invests in its framework and its future, Greenlane is setting itself up to be here for a few more decades.

“Our scale and sophistication is being rewarded,” Kadey says. “And at the same time, we’re helping our industry retailers. So they can continue to thrive and survive, we have to stay ahead of this rapid evolution the industry is seeing.”

ON THE WEB
gnln.com
vapeworld.com
vapornation.com

 

 

 

 


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