Designing your cannabis retail experience goes beyond your physical blueprint. It includes how you create your brand and shape your customer experience. Bringing in an architect and interior designer to consult with you on the final design, aesthetic, and layout of your dispensary is smart; cannabis stores have unique features that differ from other retail operations, so configuring your space to deal with these ahead of time will increase your efficiency and save funds in the long run. An experienced professional can help, but you need to supply the vision. Here are the most important factors you should consider related to your overall design:
The segmentation of your store into ‘public’ and ‘private’ areas is mandated in most jurisdictions. Public areas are where your customers will browse, relax, and interact with budtenders. Private areas include shipping/receiving, product processing, and inventory/storage, which often have a heightened need for security; they may require a badge to access. There may be additional legal requirements to consider, such as not having a storage vault located on an exterior wall, and posting a variety of specific signage around your store.
Some states mandate separation of medical and recreational cannabis areas. Even if yours does not, you’ll likely want to create a different vibe depending on which of these two major markets you anticipate drawing most of your customer base from. Alternatively, you may want to dedicate specific portions of your space to deal with medical and recreational purchasing, respectively.
Putting some consideration into how visitors will flow through your store will go a long way toward providing them superior service. Identify potential choke points, like at cash registers or in the order fulfillment area, and add plenty of additional seating and countertop space to alleviate congestion. Also consider an express checkout line if you have a smaller store footprint but anticipate a lot of traffic; this can reduce wait time and keep lines moving faster.
Gone are the days when painting your cannabis shop Rasta colors and plastering the walls with Grateful Dead posters was considered a sound design strategy. These days, most people are looking for a space that looks professional and safe. Take inspiration from other local businesses that are already successful with the target demographics you want to serve. By creating an ambiance that puts people at ease, you can help move people away from the negative stigma sometimes associated with cannabis. Don’t assume décor begins and ends with visuals either – music is a core component of most places known for their great aesthetics. Provide them plenty of space to browse and sit as well. Check out some examples of cannabis stores that do it right in this dispensary design best practices blog.
A final and vital consideration for your store is what really defines your brand—the type of experience you want to deliver. The 3 key areas in which dispensary owners should focus their efforts when creating a memorable cannabis shopping experience for customers are:
Long gone are the days of the classic headshop where a little incense and some Bob Marley were all that was needed to create a vibe. Now, every decision a cannabis retail owner makes – from the way the shop is decorated and organized, to how staff engages with customers – ultimately helps shape an atmosphere that must be able to appeal to clients while also staying authentic to your brand.
Slower processes mean your clients are spending more time in line than they are perusing the merchandise or being served by staff. A good quality POS system helps nurture a pleasant shopping experience by enabling your shop to run more smoothly. The right cannabis POS solution puts product and consumer information at every budtender’s fingertips – no need to rely on a single terminal or overstuffed binder to access strain details or a client’s order history. And your dispensary’s POS software is only the beginning; there are plenty of tools that can help your staff address customers’ needs quickly and accurately.
This goes without saying, but customer service is critical to the success of any retail operation. Cannabis retailers have a little more to contend with than operators in traditional industries because there’s a huge educational component. When it comes to customer service, retail owners also have to be prepared for anything. Dispensaries are already major focal points in their communities because of the industry’s prohibition history and the nature of the products being sold. Making sure staff is skilled enough to clarify misinformation, serve impatient customers, or deal with intoxicated clients as professionally as possible helps demonstrate your shop’s ongoing commitment to customer service.
Strategically merchandising your product not only enhances the customer experience, it maximizes sales. Thanks to consumer psychology studies, we know that your dispensary sales floor layout and product arrangement have a definite impact on your bottom line. It makes sense – customers traversing a store that is cluttered and unorganized are unlikely to have a great shopping experience. And if they can’t find what they’re looking for, well, they’re probably going to go elsewhere.
Follow these simple principles of dispensary merchandising and see how your customers respond – they just may thank you by becoming loyal shoppers.