Now, possibly more than ever, the success of cannabis dispensaries is reflected in their investment and use of technology. The best cannabis businesses use a dynamic combination of versatile technologies to enhance their dispensary operations at every level. From marketing efforts to build brand recognition and increase customer retention to optimizing your point of sale system (POS), high-tech solutions have become essential in the cannabis industry.
In this article, we discuss the different pieces that you should include in your dispensary’s technology stack to best position your dispensary for success. Dispensary technology has many layers and possibilities, and each time a decision is finally made it can feel like a hundred more questions emerge. Many dispensary owners grow discouraged and default on the methods of traditional retailers, rather than upgrading their technology infrastructure. However, technology is designed to make your dispensary operations easier – and it works.
If you have ever felt lost in the maze of dispensary technology options, this article is for you. We cover everything you need to know to get your cannabis business up-to-date. The topics covered include:
We start with business analytics because of just how essential it is to any business strategy. No matter your cannabis business goals, an understanding of your performance – and its changes over time – is crucial to understanding what works, what doesn’t, and where you have room to grow.
The cannabis industry experiences such rapid and frequent change that, without measured and sophisticated analytics, it is easy to get lost. With strong business analytics, you can turn your data into trends into insights, leading to valuable takeaways. Among other metrics, business analytics can tell you about the following:
So where to begin?
Your business analytics strategy strategy should start with Google Analytics. With Google Analytics, you can review the performance of all your digital content – from your website and e-commerce to your digital advertising campaigns. Its data and reach are unrivaled in their scope, and everyone can learn at least something from its insights. It ranges in complexity, so whether you are a computer scientist or still own a flip phone (or both), there is likely something for you.
While Google Analytics is a necessity, it has its limitations. In addition to it, you should seek out a business analytics platform that specializes in the cannabis industry. Only certain platforms can provide data and predictions specific to the cannabis industry, including market predictions and insights into consumer trends.
With this data, you can understand the bigger picture, stay ahead of the curve, and match your dispensary’s output with all the industry’s latest demand.
An effective and easy-to-use point of sale (POS) system can make or break your dispensary’s retail experience. The better the POS, the simpler it is for staff to navigate and the smoother the customer experience.
Your dispensary POS system is in charge of managing your sales. A good POS system handles payments and inventory management across e-commerce and your storefront. While this may seem like a simple enough task and that any POS system will do, keep in mind just how essential it is.
An unreliable dispensary POS system can be a nightmare. When looking for the right dispensary POS system, keep in mind the following:
With such sensitive information stored in your POS system, security must be top of mind. From your dispensary insights to your customers’ private information, a POS system breach is not a risk worth taking.
As we know all too well, the cannabis industry is not like other industries. At every corner, it seems, cannabis businesses can run into legal complications. As such, make sure your dispensary POS system manages – and frequently updates – compliance.
Additionally, make sure your POS system is designed exclusively for the cannabis industry. Not just any retail POS system can accommodate the specific needs of this industry.
Just like every piece of your dispensary technology suite, simplicity is key. The more difficult it is to use, the more complications will arise – whether through employee difficulty or customer dissatisfaction.
Make sure to demo the system before integrating it, so you may observe how simple and intuitive its design is.
With so much depending on your POS system’s performance, reliability is everything. Crashes and inconsistencies, in some capacity, are inevitable, but different systems are certain to be more reliable than others.
Read reviews and learn about other businesses’ experiences as you make your decision.
Today, customer relationship management platforms are essential to working your way through the competition.
CRM platforms are the portion of your tech stack tasked with building and maintaining relationships with your customers. A strong CRM will communicate with your customers frequently, gather data on their preferences and shopping tendencies, and will boost your customer retention rates.
When choosing which CRM platform to use, look for the following qualities:
A strong dispensary CRM will require minimal effort on your end. Even when you are away, it will continue communicating with and marketing to your customers.
Quality CRM platforms understand how customers vary. The best CRMs will allow you to easily segment your customers according to different factors and communicate with them accordingly.
While managing your customers, your CRM should automatically form actionable insights through the data it collects. This data should be valuable even beyond the CRM itself, allowing you to improve your dispensary and retain customers.
With the decline in traditional retail’s presence in consumer shopping combined with the shopping habits formed during the COVID pandemic, e-commerce has emerged as vital for every store.
For cannabis dispensaries, e-commerce appears as the listing of your products and their prices online, including your website and, often, a mobile app. Using an e-commerce platform – integrated into your POS system – for inventory management is essential. Without availability and pricing online, many customers are bound to look elsewhere.
More, studies suggest that e-commerce transactions are, on average, higher than in-store purchases. One article from Flowhub cites an average cart size of $15 more for e-commerce shoppers than in-store shoppers.
Internet marketing is a broad term that can be used to describe anything from digital advertising to social media. Here, we are focusing in on how you can dominate search engines, specifically through search engine optimization (SEO) and Google My Business.
Put shortly, SEO is about using the right keywords across your website and publications so that search engines rank them highly when people search similar phrases.
With the right keywords (among other qualities), potential customers will find your cannabis dispensary. Unlike paid advertising to rank highly, SEO is organic, making it both without fees and more reliable to visitors.
You can learn more about integrating SEO into your dispensary marketing strategy through this crash course to dispensary SEO.
In case you haven’t heard, Google is the king of the search engines. Accordingly, a strong internet marketing must include a complete and regularly updated Google My Business profile.
With Google My Business, customers will be far more likely to find your dispensary when they search something on Google that indicates they are interested in finding cannabis. Google My Business will integrate into Google Maps and list your dispensary on the Google snippet (like the one below) detailing which dispensaries to visit.
Increasing brand awareness is, in a way, the central goal of any marketing campaign. You want to reach cannabis consumers and persuade them that your cannabis dispensary can best meet their needs.
One important way to improve your brand identity – among many – is through graphic design. By presenting your brand alongside compelling and memorable imagery, customers are more likely to remember your brand.
Graphic design is an important investment for your dispensary. Whether that is hiring someone with graphic design and Photoshop proficiency onto your marketing team or finding freelancers to work gigs, featuring professional images in your advertisements and communications is an important step in growing your brand identity and spreading brand awareness.
Demand for cannabis delivery surged during the pandemic. Considering its momentum and continually expanding legalization, it seems likely that delivery might be a permanent expectation for cannabis dispensaries going forward.
Assuming its legality in your location, a delivery platform is a powerful integration into your dispensary technology stack. A good delivery software platform will feature the following important qualities:
Customers should not have to search hard for the delivery option when purchasing cannabis products. The delivery option should be immediately integrated into your e-commerce and point of sale software to simplify the customer experience.
Your delivery platform should ensure you remain compliant, even as relevant laws and regulations shift. In the years ahead, your cannabis business will be subject to different legal conditions. Your delivery platform should be trustworthy in managing them – so you don’t have to.
A top-tier cannabis delivery platform will gather and present data so you can learn more about your customers. Like all dispensary technology platforms, this data should be actionable and easily examined through your business analytics strategy.
Whereas most of the dispensary technology discussed so far has featured software, digital signage is less subtly integrated into your tech stack. Digital signage refers to electronic visual displays used to promote your dispensary.
An example might be a digital display at your storefront highlighting a specific deal you are offering, or an interactive screen where customers can browse your menu and product offerings.
Unlike the world of traditional retail, modern shopping experience is adaptive. The customer experience is often as important as the product itself. Understanding customers’ preferences is no longer limited to inventory management.
Digital signage is a way for your to create a stimulating and captivating customer experience. A digital display can set the tone for your dispensary and bolster your brand identity, as well as advertise exclusive offers and promotions.
While often included among other pieces of your dispensary technology stack, like e-commerce and POS systems, menu software is an important but too often overlooked piece of a dispensary.
Think about all the places your menu is displayed – both in-store and online.
It is probably displayed on your website as well as within your e-commerce platform. Customers interact with it when placing online orders. Inside your dispensary, it may be presented virtually, as on tablets or at kiosks, or you may opt for an old-fashioned menu board or pamphlets.
The point is that customers interact with your menu constantly, so give it the love it deserves. Here’s what to consider:
Your menu is constantly changing. Products sell out, others get restocked, all while entirely new ones are added.
Your menu is a reflection of your inventory management and, therefore, a reflection of how professional your dispensary operates. Few things are more frustrating for a customer than attempting to purchase an item only to find it is, in fact, out of stock. Keeping it up to date for your customers is a key to customer retention.
Your menu’s visual appearance is similarly important. This includes everything from font choice and layout to how it is organized. Think of your menu as more than a means to completing sales and more of a reflection of your brand and its identity.
Your menu should be able to easily integrate into all other pieces of your dispensary technology stack.
Our sweet spot here at springbig, loyalty programs are an obvious choice with an incredible ROI. Dispensaries that invest in customer loyalty programs are far more likely to develop a solid foundation of regular, high-spending customers.
The logic of your dispensary loyalty program is simple: you reward your loyal customers, so your loyal customers visit more and spend more. Since we have written so much about customer loyalty on our blog already, check out some of our other articles. Like this one on dispensary loyalty program benefits or this one on the surprising effects of a loyalty program.
Your dispensary technology stack is incomplete without springbig’s marketing suite. With our industry-leading loyalty program and text message marketing platform, among many more features, keep your dispensary on your customers’ minds.
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