Cannabis retailers face many challenges when it comes to their store, and embracing the need for supportive tools is an exciting part of the process! Streamline operations, cut costs, enhance customer service, whatever it may be; you want these additions to help future-proof your dispensary and push your store forward instead of causing costly disruptions.
Working closely with retailers, we’ve highlighted some potential problems you may run into and what you can do to future-proof your dispensary going forward!
Keep your brand front-and-center
The first red flag when it comes to e-commerce solutions that retailers run into is where they lose the power behind their brand.
Larger companies, who seem attractive to work with may be operating under a model similar to Amazon, where the software platform profits by simply making your store an order fulfillment source, but fail to give you the recognition that you deserve, and in-turn the customer relationship and loyalty built from your store’s sale.
So ask yourself: Who owns your customers? You may not even realize it, but with so many cannabis e-commerce solutions available on the market, do you know whether your solution is giving you this information to use, or if they’re keeping it for themselves?
As the retailer, you have the right to keep that information and use it however you see fit, especially when it comes to customer retention down the road. Both for remarketing campaigns and for maintaining a connection with your following, having a strong customer base to refer to is extremely valuable. So be wary when choosing a software platform, and ask yourself, are you sacrificing your relationship with your customers for incremental sales, or are you building on your relationships while boosting your sales — because there is a huge difference.
Our advice is to investigate a provider who gives you the information that belongs to your store, as well as continue highlighting your brand as the main point of contact for your customers.
This aspect is huge when it comes to long-term success, especially in an industry that is growing larger day-by-day.
Use your own site, not theirs
If your provider forces you to use their platform to host your store, that’s another red flag.
Your business is your business! It should not be a question as to why you can’t make your e-commerce yours! At the end of the day, you’re running the business, so make sure that you have the option to embed your e-commerce directly on your own site so that the sales are directly linked to your brand as opposed to the company hosting it.
Future-proof by limiting software providers
If you have multiple software providers that won’t stand the test of time, then you might want to consider making some changes while you’re still in the decision-making phase.
Working in the cannabis industry already has its hurdles with regulations and how you’re allowed to do business, but it’s always advised to consider software that is going to future-proof your dispensary.
Future-proofing is one of the most important traits to have at top-of-mind when you’re choosing software. It not only has to be considerate of how dynamic the regulatory environment is in the cannabis industry, but it also has to be able to quickly adapt to these new changes with minimal or no down-time. For example, consider the idea of adopting e-commerce software that can only perform pick up functionalities. This option will cause interruptions when regulations change because they won’t immediately be able to support the new changes, such as home delivery and connecting you to local couriers. At this point, the retailer will be missing sales opportunities.
Less is more
Downtime is crucial when you’re trying to handle demand in your store. The general rule of thumb is that less is more; the more providers you have, the more integrations you have crossing paths, and the more likely it is that something breaks. It’s an inherent problem and it will continue interrupting your day-to-day operations going forward. Plus they’re bound to be tedious, time-consuming and costly to fix.
We advise dispensary owners to opt for the least amount of software that can do the most for their stores. Adopting one turn-key solution is going to be easier for the initial set-up and it’s more likely to optimize your store going forward both now and when the industry reaches a mature state.
Navigate tough marketing restrictions
For a lot of industries, getting proper traffic isn’t a problem, in fact, much of the traffic will come organically or through paid channels, but in an industry like ours, growth is limited because of the marketing restrictions in place, which really only leaves news coverage, industry support and word of mouth to get your brand out there.
Be open to multi-channel e-commerce
We strongly advise that your main eCommerce is hosted on your own site, however, selling in an online marketplace should be something that your brand is open to.
Think of it as an extension of both your physical and virtual store; it will still represent your brand, but act as an additional avenue to be found online while drawing on a genuine user-base of consumers looking for legal cannabis from a licensed dispensary near them.
Software doesn’t have to cost a lot, and frankly, a lot of software companies gouge retailers. For the price to make sense, you have to consider the value you’re receiving along with the cost.
Simply building a user-base is valuable, and additional funds are recommended to be used to continue retaining those customers versus trying to adopt new ones. While this task is difficult to navigate now, in the future when federal legalization passes and marketing restrictions are lifted to an extent, this is going to be the key for growth and retaining your customer-base by fuelling them to come back time and time again.
So while some software companies in the cannabis industry get away with charging hundreds of dollars every month, it’s questionable if you’re receiving the acceptable return.
This begs the question as to why up-and-coming dispensary owners invest so much money in a solution that is not working toward their mutual success, but rather working to make your store an order fulfillment center?
Our advice is to look at all of your options and to invest in e-commerce that will show you returns that are long-lasting — because the most expensive options probably aren’t worth it, and may not be the best option if you’re looking to future-proof your dispensary.
Taking these red flags into consideration and comparing the cost-to-value, as well as functionality, scalability, and intentions, you can really see who your e-commerce partner should be through what they bring to your store versus what they cannot.
Can you find your store on Verda’s online marketplace? It recently launched and now consumers can find nearby licensed, legal recreational dispensaries, browse their live menus of products and place online orders for in-store pickup or same-day home delivery. *
*where your local regulations permit