How to Choose a Cannabis E-commerce Solution

With stringent regulations, cannabis retail is quite different from other industries, and cannabis business owners must navigate various restrictions to stay compliant. Hence, many considerations must be taken into account while choosing an E-commerce solution for your dispensary. Let’s dive into these:

1. Cannabis E-commerce SEO and CMS for website

It’s important to have a robust content management system for your website with advanced native E-commerce tools that allow you to create relevant content and implement the best search engine optimization practices. These tools will help you improve local SEO for your website so that your dispensary and cannabis products can easily be seen by customers searching on the web in the vicinity of your location. If you use an iFrame embedded menu for E-commerce, you won’t get as much value from an SEO perspective. Since you don’t have any custom product and product category pages with an iFrame embed, you will have potentially hundreds of pages that would otherwise be present if you had a custom CMS website. The more pages with written content and images, the more opportunities you have to rank on Google and therefore more chances to get more paying customers to your business. The two most common CMS platforms for E-commerce are Shopify and WooCommerce. 

2. Brand Customization and User Experience

You must be able to customize your online brand and offerings the way your customers have come to expect at your brick-and-mortar storefront. Being able to differentiate your brand with online visuals, relevant product information and images is essential to build a unique online user experience, and your chosen E-commerce platform must offer these functionalities. Your website should be designed in a way that customers can filter through products based on strain type, THC level, price, and even desired effects. Providing all these options will help you enhance the online dispensary experience and build customer loyalty for your cannabis brand. Budget permitting, we recommend investing in a website designer that has experience with User Interface and User Experience (UI/UX). These specialists will ensure that your website looks great and is easy to navigate for users.

3. Target Audience and Loyalty Features

Defining your target audience and understanding their unique requirements will help you in building the online shopping experience they are seeking and displaying the relevant products on your e-store, based on unique buyer preferences. If you have your E-commerce store and don’t use a third-party marketplace, you will also own all customer data that will help you understand them better, offer a personalized shopping experience, and own the customer relationship. Also, integration of your loyalty program and any other offerings like gift cards into your E-commerce store is crucial for a seamless shopping experience. 

4. Analytics and Reporting for Decision-making

With an independent cannabis e-commerce website, you will have access to customer information including demographic data such as age, gender, location. Such data will help you analyze their behavior and influence future purchases. With powerful analytics, you will also know where the customers who did not make the final purchase dropped out from your website, which product they clicked on, abandoned cart details, etc., which provides retargeting and upselling opportunities. Enhanced reporting can help you make improvements to your eCommerce platform, optimize the website, increase conversions, and better decision-making. We always recommend installing Google Analytics on your website, and potentially other third-party data analytics tools.

5. Compliance and Integration with Tracking Systems

The cannabis industry is undoubtedly highly regulated and with seed-to-sale tracking mandated in most American states and stringent reporting requirements in Canadian provinces, you need to choose an e-commerce solution that integrates with the reporting or tracking system and helps you stay compliant with the laws. If your e-commerce platform does not offer the flexibility to integrate with METRC, BioTrack, or the likes in the US or the new reporting systems in Canada, then you’ll be putting in extra hours of manual work to corroborate all your inward and outward inventory with government reports, and that’d be quite taxing for you.

6. Inventory Management and Payment Processing

Inventory management is already challenging enough when dealing with perishable products- adding on another layer of cannabis tracking for online orders should be a seamless process with your chosen cannabis e-commerce solution. Along with a comprehensive centralized inventory management system integrated with your online cannabis website, you also need robust payment processing options, so that once an online order is made and payment is processed quickly, your system will automatically update the inventory in real-time across all your integrated platforms, before the sale is tendered and the order is pushed forward. Syncing e-commerce inventory with in-store inventory is always a challenging thing. At COVA, we have a combination of pre-built solutions and partners that we work closely with to ensure that your e-commerce website integrates seamlessly with inventory in real-time.

7. Cannabis POS and Tech Ecosystem Integrations

Most importantly, your chosen E-commerce solution must integrate seamlessly with your existing tech infrastructure and POS system. If not, you need an advanced and reputed cannabis POS system like Cova that 'out of the box' integrates with leading e-commerce solutions, including Buddi, Shopify, Dabber, and WebJoint. For a seamless shopping experience, your customers should be able to browse the website, place an order, and either pay online or pay at the store if they are picking up their order. The flexibility to integrate with other cannabis tech ecosystem solutions will always keep you ahead of the competition.

Beware of all-in-one solutions that are designed to lock you in and may not offer the functionalities you are looking for to develop your cannabis e-commerce business. Choose tech that works seamlessly with best-of-breed tech solutions, from plug & play menus to custom native E-commerce solutions. With a partner that is equally invested in your success, you will grow your cannabis brand, maximize online visibility, and nurture customer loyalty.

 

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