As the cannabis retail space continues to mature, it’s no longer enough to simply hang a dispensary sign and hope for the best. If you want your venture to truly thrive, you’re going to have to make your store stand out.The best way to do that? Provide engaging, unforgettable experiences at every touchpoint.
To do this effectively, you must consider your customer’s entire journey — starting from the time they first discover your dispensary online and continuing into the hours and days after they’ve completed their transaction with you.
That’s exactly what we’re discussing today: how you can create the best possible cannabis retail experience for your customers and keep them coming back for more.
Step 1: Pre-Store Experience
Before you can provide an amazing customer experience, you must first identify your ideal customer. Crafting a specific buyer persona (or personas) will help you hone your marketing strategy and brand identity. Modern consumers come from all walks of life; working professionals, retirees, veterans, health and wellness enthusiasts, tourists, and cannabis newcomers are all potential personas you can target.
Another key component of the pre-store experience is your digital footprint. You need to ensure that your cannabis dispensary is searchable online and that your website and social media channels align with your brand’s identity. With nearly 90% of shoppers pre-researching purchases online, it’s virtually guaranteed that a consumer’s first interaction with your brand will be through a digital device — so you want to make it count.
Here are a few key points about your cannabis retail store’s online presence:
- Register your company with Google My Business for maximum visibility.
- Make sure basic information like your dispensary’s location and business hours are accurately listed.
- Ensure that your online menus stay updated; customers will be disappointed and less likely to return if they come in expecting a product that’s not actually in stock.
Step 2: In-Store Experience
Imagine walking into your favorite retail store. What does it feel like? What do you see, hear, and smell? What do the design and decor communicate to you as a customer? What about the staff — what do their attitudes and actions express about the company?
These are all things you should consider when it comes to your dispensary’s design. The overall vibe, along with the store layout and flow of operations, contributes to your customers’ perception of your brand — and their decision to come back.
Let’s look at some major elements of the in-store experience.
- Store flow: Put some thought and research into the actual procedure your customers will follow through the entire dispensary experience. Thanks to advancements in cannabis POS software, you now have more options than the tired take-a-number-and-have-a-seat model. In fact, with the right technology, you can offer multiple ways to navigate the retail experience — for example, a self-serve kiosk and express checkout for informed consumers who know what they want, and a more consultative experience with a budtender for those who need some guidance.
- Frontline staff: Speaking of budtenders, it’s important to invest in your sales associates by giving them the tools and training needed to provide a stellar customer experience. Put simply, the average consumer shouldn’t know more about the products you sell than your staff members. Associates should be knowledgeable about your inventory as well as the different types of cannabis products and consumption methods. Customers come to your store with questions — make sure your budtenders have the answers.
- Check-in and checkout efficiency: Think about this: the check-in/ID verification process and checkout at the point-of-sale are the first and last impressions your customers have of your cannabis dispensary. It will serve you well to ensure they’re as smooth, painless, and efficient for customers as possible. Additionally, you’ll want to ensure you incorporate compliance requirements into the process. Here again, the right dispensary technology can make your life exponentially easier.
Step 3: Post-Store Experience
Some businesses take the attitude that once a customer checks out and exits the building, the retail process is over. But that’s not the best approach if you want to maximize the customer experience — and the likelihood that he or she will return to your dispensary.
By following up with customers, you’ll demonstrate that you value their business. You’ll also get invaluable feedback that can help you tweak and improve operations; you’d be amazed at some of the insights a simple post-purchase customer survey or review can bring.
Here are a few post-store points to consider.
- Communication: By capturing customer email addresses, you’ll be able to follow up with them post-purchase and provide extra value through informative content. Of course, you don’t want to be the annoying brand that sends three email blasts a day — that’s a quick way to turn customers off and lose business. But, yielded wisely, email and even SMS messaging can help you keep in touch. Consider educational tips like, “How to Properly Store Your Cannabis” or “Pairing Strains and Activities.”
- Loyalty program: Customer reward programs are a proven way to incentivize customers to come back — but loyalty is earned, not given. When you provide an unforgettable customer experience at every touchpoint, a cannabis reward program can be the icing on the cake.
- Promotions: Here again, it’s important to be conservative and targeted. Over-promoting specials and deals can turn customers off. But a well-timed, strategic promotion can give customers the incentive they need to pay you a visit.
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