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How to Succeed in Canada's Competitive Cannabis Retail Industry


The cannabis retail industry has grown exponentially in Canada, and some provinces are concerned about the oversaturation of cannabis stores, even though that’s not the case. However, as we prepare to celebrate four years of cannabis legalization in Canada, it is also essential to acknowledge that once an industry matures, it becomes more competitive and consolidation always happens. Some cannabis stores will shut down, others will get acquired, and new dispensaries will still open up in areas that don’t have one yet. Growth will slow down eventually, but as competition intensifies, the businesses that can navigate this industry’s heavy regulations efficiently and have a solid plan will thrive. Let us dive into the different ways cannabis retailers can succeed in the changing Canadian cannabis retail landscape.

1. Invest in Building your Cannabis Retail Brand

Your cannabis retail branding is the unique story behind your company, the values that you stand for, your mission, and how you communicate all of these to your customers. As the competition among cannabis retailers intensifies and the illicit market still needs to be thwarted further, the only way you can differentiate your cannabis store is by building your brand. Know your ideal customer persona, conduct regular market analysis to observe trends, and curate an elevated consumer experience for shoppers.

Suppose your dispensary is clustered among many other cannabis stores offering the same products. In that case, as has been observed in neighbourhoods of Toronto, branding can be your competitive advantage, if done well. If you can create an impactful connection with unique and consistent brand elements, it remains memorable long after customers leave the store and strengthens brand loyalty. Focus on educating people and growing awareness to increase brand recognition. This Ontario retailer leveraged community outreach to build a unique brand image. 

2. Create an Omnichannel Sales and Promotion Strategy

Omnichannel retailing means complete sync of your online and offline cannabis retail experience. With seamless integration across your website, marketing, store inventory and point-of-sale, a consistent brand experience can be offered across all touchpoints. As more provinces have allowed private retailers to sell cannabis online, it is imperative that you jump onto the bandwagon early and offer eCommerce services to your customers. These days, consumers tend to seamlessly research, browse and shop across different devices- and a strong presence across online platforms is essential to your omnichannel retail strategy.

Your promotions also must be tied with your sales strategy across all channels. Whether you’re offering in-store promotions on celebrations like 420, email marketing promotions, or any giveaways on social media, maintain consistency across all platforms. With an omnichannel sales and promotions strategy, your customers always have the latest information on inventory and pricing, they can shop on their terms whenever they want, and you’ll be curating a truly elevated cannabis consumer experience for them.

3. Enhance Online Visibility with SEO and Social Media

Having your website with SEO-optimized content for your cannabis store will give you better opportunities to leverage search engine marketing and enhance online visibility in your geotagged location. Also, by creating regular blog posts, you can use SEO best practices to improve the flow of organic traffic to your cannabis website. Alberta’s Daikoku is leveraging SEO well for its cannabis eCommerce store while staying compliant with all regulations.

Presence on social channels is crucial for the success of your cannabis retail business. If you don’t have a social media strategy, you may lose out on customers who may not be aware of your brand. In today’s world, people are constantly connected online, and social media allows you to create a compelling buyer’s journey by wowing them at every touchpoint in the customer journey. Here are seven dispensaries crushing it on social media.

4. Use Data and Reporting to Manage Inventory Efficiently

In the cannabis retail industry, where you are dealing with perishable products, strategic inventory management is crucial to your success. An advanced POS system like Cova allows you to sync inventory and pricing across all sales channels seamlessly and deliver an excellent customer experience. It is also essential that retailers stock products that align with consumer preferences. Cova’s detailed reports provide you insights on what’s selling and what’s not and how fast it’s moving so that you can make better purchase decisions.

Enhanced reporting doesn’t just streamline inventory management but also helps control financial costs and facilitate compliance. Cova POS presents data in the most simplified format so that cannabis retailers can use relevant insights to accelerate growth and profitability.


5. Build a Strong Team and Reward Top Performers

Your retail staff can make or break your cannabis business. Ensure that you hire people for their cannabis expertise; build a strong and efficient team that will help you manage the store better and curate an unforgettable consumer experience. Your dream team must include legal and security advisors along with your day-to-day operational staff. You must also reward your top performers to retain good talent and use measures to improve budtender performance because the in-store retail staff always has a direct impact on your sales and customer experience.

6. Implement SOPs to Increase Operational Efficiency

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) help cannabis stores guide their staff in executing daily operational tasks efficiently to increase profitability in the long term. Establishing detailed SOPs for your cannabis retail business related to opening and closing your store, sales transactions, security protocols, inventory management, quality assurance, delivery procedures, etc. will just not ease compliance but also increase operational efficiency. 

‍7. Have a Solid Business Plan and Vision for the Future

As more players join the fray and new cannabis products are introduced, the Canadian cannabis retail industry will continue to evolve, and along will come a new set of challenges. To ensure that you’re always ready for what may come, you must have a solid business plan for growth. Avoid any mistakes that could ruin your business and plan meticulously for the future. Make sure that you are focused on reducing costs and increasing revenue by using technology prudently and incorporating cannabis retail best practices.

Cannabis retail competition will only increase as the Canadian market consolidates and may reach a saturation point in a few years. Cannabis retailers that follow these recommendations and choose to partner with the right cannabis technology provider that grows with them will be the ones to establish long-term sustainable growth. Cova and our ever-expanding partner tech ecosystem allow you to do that and much more. Click below to learn more.


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