Diego Pellicer, a Seattle dispensary, leaves room for those who want to shop without interfering with those who want to purchase.
Photo courtesy of Diego Pellicer

As shoppers and shopping experiences evolve, retailers must meet the demands of delivering outstanding products, product information and purchasing experiences to their customers. Understanding what cannabis consumers want and what cannabis retailers can legally deliver is key. Dispensaries that bridge the gap will be successful. Here are five areas worth some thought:

1. Connect Physically and Digitally.

Retailers should recognize the customer journey is no longer linear, but rather a multichannel, fluid experience. Therefore, retailers must create experiences that connect touch points between desktop, mobile and in-store engagements.

2. Master the Art and Science of Attribution.

A significant challenge for retailers is understanding how their efforts contribute to buying decisions. Which channels influence purchases? What messaging resonates strongest? Where can they add value above and beyond the brands they sell in their shops? Retailers must find an effective way to assign credit to marketing activities that lead to purchases and customer loyalty.

3. Understand the Difference Between “Shoppers” and “Transactors.”

Whether purchasing for recreational or medicinal use, cannabis consumers typically fall into two categories. Much like a stop at the gas station or coffee shop, “transactors” know what they want before arriving at the store, and “shoppers” seek new products and product information before purchasing. Knowing the difference can help a retailer better serve its customer types.

4. Human, Technological Interaction Is Key.

A retailer’s quality perception is comprised of both human and technology-based services. Providing store associates with technology, tools and information that can enable them to provide value to the cannabis shopper is critical. It’s the balance between human interaction and technology that will support a better customer experience.

5. Improve the In-Store Experience.

Retailers should focus on creating a “bedrock,” or platform of elements, that works best for them. By keeping a consistent, monitored approach, a retailer can direct and/or re-direct based on performance. Areas of retail satisfaction worth focusing on include:

  • Engagement: Being polite, genuinely caring and interested in helping, listening and acknowledging.
  • Executional Excellence: Patiently explaining, checking stock, helping find products, having product knowledge and unexpected product quality.
  • Retailer Experience: Exciting store design and atmosphere, great product selection, making customers feel they’re special and that they always get a deal.

Retailers should be open to leveraging technology to meet both state requirements and customer expectations. As legal cannabis continues to grow, licensed retailers must find ways to improve shopping experiences, maintain or expand margins, and provide consumers with the most satisfying post-purchase, loyalty-building interactions.

David Paleschuck heads up New Leaf Licensing, LLC—a cannabis-focused consulting agency supporting many of the country’s leading cannabis brands, retailers and media brands, as well as those considering entering the sector. Reach him at david@newleaflicensing.com.