Kitchener-Waterloo

New platform helps retailers figure out where to open pot stores

A Kitchener-based tech company is working with companies planning to apply for a cannabis retail licence to help them find the best possible location. 

Start to see applications for cannabis retail licences to be approved says Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Sara Steiner with PiinPoint says their location platform is similar to Google maps but provides data and analytics around "what kind of sales [retailers] could expect in a certain location, how suitable a market is for them and how many stores could open in a certain market." (Submitted photo)

A Kitchener-based tech company is working with companies planning to apply for a cannabis retail licence to help them find the best possible location. 

The location-intelligence platform created by PiinPoint gives retailers location data to help them decide where to open.

Sarah Steiner, the Chief Product Officer for PiinPoint, says in working with companies for the last six years, they know finding real estate can be extremely difficult even without legislative barriers for where to open cannabis stores.

"We bring in a ton of different data," said Steiner. "We actually provide analytics around where people can go, what kind of sales they could expect in a certain location, how suitable a market is for them, how many stores they could do in a certain market."

Steiner says the data can also eliminate areas near schools, parks, hospitals and other cannabis retailers.

But Ontario Chamber of Commerce's Daniel Safayeni says price and quality are the other factors retailers need to consider when they open their doors.

"Retailers need to be armed with the right tools to be able to compete effectively on price on product differentiation and quality," Safayeni said.

"And right now you know as things stand the illegal market has an advantage when it comes to these factors and that is in large part because of the structure of the cannabis retail distribution system here in Ontario."

Lottery system turfed

Safayeni says the provincial government's plan to eliminate the lottery system for cannabis retail outlets is good news for Waterloo region consumers and retailers, he said. 

"The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Cannabis Policy Council has been calling for a merit-based open application system, which is really tied to a first-come first-served basis in terms of granting those license," he said.

"Prospective retailers and folks that want to open cannabis retail outlets have to have the requisite experience and capital and knowledge to be able to go forward with this. Of course there is a vetting process that the AGCO does when granting these licenses."

The new rules take effect in January 2020.

Daniel Safayeni, the co-chair of the Ontario Cannabis Policy and Director of Policy at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, says the end to the pot store lottery system is good news. (Submitted photo)

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