November 4, 2019
CBD dispensing robots are coming to select 7-Eleven stores in Colorado, thanks to a pilot program launched by robot-maker Greenbox Robotics in partnership with prominent Colorado family business, Monfort Companies.
“It's one of those defining moments as an entrepreneur, where this is what we hoped for ... placing our units in a location where they want to sell CBD, they want to introduce this trending product, but it has to be done the right way. We are hoping that Greenbox answers that call,” Greenbox Robotics CEO and founder Zack Johnson said.
Greenbox Robotics kicked off the program by installing robots at two 7-Eleven convenience stores in high traffic locations in Denver and in Boulder. Johnson sees it as a mutually beneficial agreement: Greenbox benefits from exposure to 7-Eleven customers, and 7-Eleven gets to enter the hot CBD market with help from industry insiders and a smart machine that can educate potential customers. Plus, if all goes well, Johnson has big ambitions for his robots and for his new business relationship.
Greenbox Robotics CEO and founder Zack Johnson poses with a robot in a Colorado 7-Eleven. / Photo Credit: Caroline Murphy/Greenbox
Greenbox Robotics is a cannabis technology company that creates artificial intelligence-powered CBD and cannabis vending machines. These robots are intended to entertain and educate potential customers, as well as to boost sales for shops and dispensaries that host them. The idea is that Greenbox’s social media-friendly aesthetic and entertainment value will draw in customers, who then spend at the store. Furthermore, the machine keeps high price point products secure, and allows manufacturers to convey product information to customers.
“We qualify every [stock-keeping unit] that goes inside our robots. We make sure that the educational component around that individual SKU is as robust as possible," Johnson said.
At the two Colorado 7-Eleven shops, chosen both for their strategic locations and high customer volume, Johnson said Greenbox plans to sell a curated selection of CBD-infused products from up and coming brands like organiCBD, Melior, and 19Forty LA, among others. The 7-Eleven that Greenbox chose in Boulder is near the city’s Fox Theatre, a popular destination located just off the University of Colorado campus.
It’s a strategic location, not only for traffic reasons, but for a planned partnership the company has with the theater. Through the Golden Ticket program, Greenbox will stock swag in its machines ー like backstage passes, signed merchandise, and more ー that corresponds to shows at the venue. Johnson, who kicked off his career in the music industry, also envisions coordinating with performers on their own CBD brands. Many in the entertainment industry — think Seth Rogan and Bella Thorne ー have hopped onto the CBD and cannabis trends, lending their names and reputations to brands and products. Post Malone, for example, has partnered up with California cannabis company Sherbinskis on a line of hemp products.
“Maybe there’s a CBD brand that Post Malone is attached to,” Johnson said, offering one example of an aspirational partnership. “We can have that be the product that everybody goes and buys. Plus, one of those purchases, one of those transactions, gives a lucky fan a meet and greet, or some signed merchandise, or a backstage pass."
Key both to Greenbox's 7-Eleven pilot and in the partnership with Fox Theatre, is the company's relationship with Kenneth Monfort, director of development at the Monfort Companies and son of Rockies co-owner Charlie Monfort. Monfort is a big name in Colorado, known throughout the state since the 1930s, when Warren Monfort founded the beef company that would later become known as Monfort Colorado. His son Kenneth Monfort would go on to grow the business into one of the largest beef operations worldwide before selling to ConAgra in the late ‘80s. The younger Kenneth Monfort founded real estate firm Monfort Companies in 2011. It focuses on real estate development in Colorado ー especially in downtown Denver, the Denver Post reported ー and has taken to buying 7-Eleven stores across the state.
“I believe that adding Greenbox to our convenience stores will add value, intrigue, and delight our customers while reducing shrinkage,” Kenneth Monfort said in a statement. ”We trust Greenbox to curate the CBD collection we offer our customer base.”
A successful pilot program ー meaning increased foot traffic and sales at 7-Eleven stores, safe keeping for higher price point CBD products, and diversification of customers for 7-Eleven and Greenbox ー could mean big things for Greenbox. The company aspires to putting more robots in Monfort-owned stores across Colorado, or even striking a deal with 7-Eleven corporate.
"What we’re looking for is to generate sales and show 7-Eleven corporate that this is a value add, we’re introducing a product that is protected, not on shelves to risk theft, but we are also looking to generate sales for you in your store beyond just the CBD product," Johnson said.
“[7-Eleven] has been known to invest into things that increase sales for their retailers. We’re hoping that with this pilot program, we can be on their radar through Monfort and explore 7-Eleven investing into Greenbox,” he later added.
A spokesperson from corporate 7-Eleven said the company "does not support or promote the sale of ingestible cannabis-based products."