Improving your Dispensary’s Customer Journey | Pro Tips for Before, During and After the Purchase
There’s no denying that the shopping experience has evolved since the internet has taken over. Amazon’s nailed the online shopping experience, and they got to where they are because of available product information, good quality images, and visibility of the brand behind the scenes. With this, ensuring that your online presence is just as informative as the in-store experience is vital to appeal to the new age of shoppers.
98% of Gen-Z shoppers already have researched and found the product they want to buy before they even walk into your store thanks to social media and peer reviews. That doesn’t mean that your in-store experience isn’t just as important. You can still gain traction and attention through your in-store brand immersion as well as through customer relationships — both of which don’t translate as well for your e-commerce presence.
We’ve highlighted key points to consider while you’re developing your brand presence in the market — all of which will lead to a better customer journey and a more satisfied and loyal customer base.
Who’s Looking For Your Store?
Cannabis consumers don’t look like they used to. The stereotype for classic stoners is evolving; now you’ll see a whole new generation of consumers, including seniors, working professionals, veterans, tourists, students, and so many more. The attraction for consuming cannabis is more than just getting high, but now it’s all about wellness and living a healthier, happier lifestyle. Just like a glass of wine, you don’t drink it to get drunk (or maybe you do) but the goal is to unwind after a long day.
Breaking the stigma and the stereotype means that we have to relate to all of the different demographics that cannabis appeals to. How do we give all of the individuals that would want to shop from your dispensary the best experience? Making this process as positive as possible is going to be the best for long-term success in cannabis retail.
Before the Purchase
Become Discoverable Online:
Before they can even enter your store — can anyone find you? As a business owner, you should do your best to provide the most entry points for discovery possible. Making yourself present online is really important, especially in this day and age where people hunt for good reviews and a good website to consider shopping at your store.
Make sure to include things like store hours, address, contact information, and respond to reviews on your dispensary.
Social media reviews mean a lot today, and unfortunately, people are more inclined to leave a bad review for negative experiences than to rave about all of the great things they experienced in your shop. The best way to approach these gnarly reviews should be in the nicest and most professional way that you know how. Address their concerns politely and assure them that your store can deliver a better experience. You could say something along the lines, “We apologize that you had a bad experience. We want to show you that we deliver better _________ ”.
The big takeaway here is that people DO read these reviews, and if this is the first place many of your customers look before coming in themselves, so you want to represent your brand in the most accommodating and polite way possible.
Is Your Website Up to Par?
Websites are the biggest teller to millennials just how serious you are about your business. You want to be informative and deliver a real, accurate experience leading towards what you’ve built in-store.
One of the key additions to your website that shoppers look for is a live inventory of what you have available. Visualizing your products in real-time is going to draw in the consumers who browse on their phones before coming into your physical storefront. Keep in mind that you don’t want to be subject to false advertising. Set an automatic tool to remove products from your website, online store, etc when there are limited quantities of specific products to keep your customers as informed as possible. This will inform your consumers and let them know what to expect when they do come to make a purchase.
The In-Store Experience
A Killer Design and In-Store Experience is Worth the Investment
Until now, many consumers have only been inside of stereotypical smoke shops, or very bare-bone dispensaries where the customer experience is still being figured out as regulations become more lenient.
With brand immersion debuting as the major wow-factor for consumers, many flock from near and far to see it in its prime. You want to have a unique look to your brand, something people won’t mistake for something else and it’s always a fun exercise to see how you can creatively incorporate the necessary measures that dispensaries need to operate. This includes things like blacked-out or frosted storefront doors and windows, and proper security measures — of course, these will differ depending on what province/state your shop is located in.
Being able to customize your in-store experience is crucial for this age of cannabis consumers. Out of the 19 million people in Ontario, less than 10% have been inside of a legal dispensary in their life, and honestly, the thought of it is still intimidating to many. People don’t know what to expect — could it still be this stereotypical stoner vibe inside, are people going to look at me funny because I’m not the average shopper, or does the shop welcome and appeal to anyone and everyone?
Don’t be afraid to go to the moon with your design; It’s going to be a major component that your customers decide whether or not they fit in with your brand and what you have for sale. The warmer the atmosphere, the more comforted and welcomed your customers will feel when they come into your dispensary. If you design with your end-consumers in mind, and what kind of experience they have when they walk into your store, then the more likely it is to gain a sale or be referred to your customer’s friends and family.
Give your Store Flow
Having a flow is going to be crucial considering the demand for cannabis to-date. Is your store built to handle the volume you could see? Many licensed dispensaries have lines going out their door and around the corner. Some shops go as far as purchasing parking lots near their space to accommodate for those willing to wait to enter the dispensary. Now, this may not be an issue for every dispensary out there, but with limited access to legal cannabis, maintaining a consumer flow into and out of your store is going to improve the consumer journey.
Legally, you have to have designated ‘in’ and ‘out’ paths to minimize clustering at your doorway. Making an effort so that customers don’t have to push past one another to get in or out is going to make the in-store experience more desirable. This could mean having an employee near the entrance of your shop to manage the foot traffic and direct the flow of customers both in and out.
Research conducted by consumer behaviour expert Paco Underhill found that giving your customers adequate space to browse and shop will make them more inclined to buy. If they want a product that is blocked by other customers who are browsing makes them less inclined to pursue the purchase.
Based on this, we recommend setting a lower capacity limit for how many customers can be in your store at one time. Give the customers inside of your store priority to walk around and explore your offerings. It will make them feel more valued and more willing to spend money knowing that they’re not just another customer coming through your door.
Knowledgeable, Patient, and Polite Staff are Key
Making sure you hire knowledgeable, patient and polite members for your team is important. Your employees impact your brand with every conversation they have. Not all customers need as much guidance, and for those individuals, you can simply nudge them, ask if they need help, and if they don’t, the employee can retrieve the product and simply be cashed out. For customers who do mention that some help would be useful, the focus for your employees should be to guide those customers toward something that may suit their needs.
Fast Lanes Could Solve Lineup Envy
Have you considered an express checkout lane? Reserved for individuals who know exactly what they want and don’t want or need to browse, a fast lane gets those shoppers in and out in record time.
Online Ordering Makes Checking Out Fast and Furious
Some regions offer a ‘Click and Collect’ model. Allowing your customers the ability to go online, browse, even reserve products and pay in advance to pick up in-store at a later time. It not only saves customers the hassle of waiting in line but also frees up your budtenders from servicing every customer that walks through your doors — which is extremely valuable.
Same-Day Home Delivery Saves your Customers Time and Effort
On top of just ordering online to pick up later in-store, some regions allow licensed shops to offer convenient, same-day home delivery. Giving your customers the ability to shop from home and simply have their products delivered to their door is the ultimate customer service that you could add to your business. Offering home delivery also expands your service reach as anyone with a smartphone can see your dispensary and order right from your online storefront.
After the Buy
So now your customer has found you online, found the products they wanted, and purchased it inside of your shop. Now what?
Exactly how your business’s customer journey is so important before and during the purchase, the post-transaction journey is just as crucial. There are a number of items that come into play once you get the sale that will impact whether or not your customers will come back to your store or go elsewhere next time. You want your customers to be loyal to your store, your staff and your brand as a whole. Customers will prioritize your store if you prioritize them while they visit, just like ‘regulars’ at your local cafe. Great products and great service will bring customers back time and time again.
Huge for any business. Do you think McDonald's got to where they are today because their burgers are different at different stores? While out of your hands, cannabis cultivation will vary from batch to batch, meaning that if a customer finds a strain they like, it may not be exactly the same the next time they go to buy. With this, you’ll want to form a consistent experience so your customers can come back with confidence that they’re getting exactly what they sought out for. Until cultivation variance improves, you could recommend strains with similar potency to what they’ve received in the past. Aiming for similar experiences that they’ve enjoyed will show them that you know what you’re talking about and trust you more in the future. Repeat business is rooted in trust, so being a reliable source of education is a must.
If a repeat customer walks in your door for the third, fourth, or fifth time.. do you remember what they bought in the past?
Getting to know your repeat customers can be a huge advantage in acquiring them for life. Learn their purchase history, preferred strains or methods of consumption. These details and your relationship with your customers could lead them toward becoming a lifetime shopper at your dispensary.
With this, engaging your customers after they buy can be really helpful in retaining them for life. You could initiate an opt-in communication list where they get the details about your store and your offers. Reactive marketing based on purchase history is something many brick and mortar stores are picking up. A simple reach out saying something like, “Hey! We’ve got this new thing that’s similar to what you bought last time that we think you’d enjoy.” A small communication like this shows that you’re keeping track of their interests and showing them new products that they may also enjoy in the future while avoiding being too spammy. The interested customers will stay on the list, and those who aren’t interested can simply opt-out.
* Keep in mind that marketing communication surrounding cannabis vary from region to region, and the last thing you want to do it get your shop in trouble. Make sure to brush up on your local marketing regulations before kicking off any kind of post-purchase marketing strategy!
Reviewing your dispensary and the journey your customers endure could really improve your brand overall. Don’t let one of these tips slip through the cracks as many of them are leading factors for whether you’re servicing customers just once or twice, or if you’re going to be their chosen dispensary for all of their cannabis needs.
While your customer journey is something that may take time and investment, we promise you it’s worth every penny.