Analyzing basket size dynamics in wholesale cannabis
Editor’s Note: The following is adapted from Breaking the Stigma.
There is no doubt: in-store purchases are being replaced by online purchases. In 2020, for example, the number of online shoppers only during the Black Friday weekend increased by 44%. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic likely influenced this increase, but it’s part of a larger trend.
This trend has made implementing omnichannel strategies a necessity for merchants. Omnichannel is all about providing a great, seamless customer experience across all possible buying channels, whether a customer visits a store or orders online for delivery or pickup. For cannabis retailers in particular, doing omnichannel well is a great way to stand out from the competition.
Take Black Friday, for example. While many people enjoy the thrill of queuing on Black Friday, there are plenty of shoppers who just want bargains and have grown accustomed to finding those deals from the luxury of their personal computer or mobile device. If they can go online, get the offer, and get the pickup without having to fight through the crowds, it’s an incredibly delicious experience and has created the equally well-known shopping holiday, Cyber Monday. .
That’s what omnichannel is all about: delivering an exceptional customer experience across all channels in your stores. As important as omnichannel is, it can also be a challenge. Below are five strategies to help align your retail store with your online presence.
1. Pass on your brand
When someone visits your website, they should immediately have an impression of your brand. The colors, font, and images should all support your brand identity. Whether a customer walks into your physical location or opens your online homepage, you want to evoke the same feelings.
Part of conveying your brand is clarifying your purpose. You should have an “about” page that explains your mission and values as well as the history of your business. To find your story, ask yourself a few questions: “What problem is your business trying to solve? “What challenges have you encountered and overcome? “What do you hope to accomplish in the future?” It’s your story.
Also consider including photos of your store and staff somewhere on your website. This will give customers an idea of your in-store experience and put a face to the business. Especially for customers who are apprehensive about buying cannabis, a friendly, smiling face on your website can go a long way. To be authentic, these images must be real photos, not stock footage.
If you operate separate medical and adult stores, I recommend having separate websites for each, although they may be linked to each other. Medical and recreational users typically have different needs, questions, and concerns, and having separate websites allows you to speak very specifically to each and develop a dual brand identity.
2. Educate customers
A key part of the in-store customer experience is the training sales associates can provide. To have a seamless omnichannel experience, you need to provide a similar level of education on your website. Many customers, especially first-time users, prefer to get cannabis information online from the comfort of their own home, where no one can judge them for their questions or lack of knowledge.
You can start with an FAQ page, most likely split into two sections: cannabis-related questions (like “What is THC and CBD?”) and store-specific questions (like “Do you have a loyalty program?” and “What forms of payment do you accept?”). If you’re not sure which questions to include, ask your sellers which questions they get the most.
I strongly suggest having a blog too. At a minimum, I recommend creating blog posts for all the bases. Once you’ve been in the cannabis industry for a while, you spend so much time around knowledgeable people that you might forget about strangers – people who haven’t used cannabis and who don’t. have no basic knowledge. Our job is to attract these strangers with us, and we can do that through education.
It might sound silly to write a blog post explaining the difference between cannabis and hemp, but there might be someone out there who still needs to hear this. As an added benefit, blog posts can drive traffic to your website. Also, after going through the basics, you can use your blog to showcase new products or promotions. Build your blogging library over time so you don’t burn out and ensure customers can easily search and find the specific topics that interest them.
3. Consider User Experience
Your website should also work perfectly and be pleasant to use. Your website’s user experience (UX) is often the beginning of the customer journey, so you want to make a good impression. If the UX is poor, users may leave the website and you will lose the opportunity to convert them into customers.
Start by evaluating the functionality of your website. Functionality is essential not only for UX, but also for your search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of designing your site so that it appears at the top of search results, thereby improving quality. and the amount of your web traffic.
Before launching your website and whenever you make major updates, check for broken links, review how the site looks in multiple browsers and from different devices (computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.) and ensure make sure the images are clear and not grainy. Make sure the navigation is clear and simple and consider the aesthetics of your website.
Also, make sure your pages load quickly, including on mobile devices. A Google study found that 70% of mobile landing pages took seven or more seconds to fully charge, with an average charge time of fifteen seconds. from google recommendation of good practices is a loading time of less than three seconds.
4. Improve your online ordering experience
Once your site is set up correctly, it’s time to consider the online ordering experience.
Unfortunately, in some states delivering and picking up cannabis is not legal. Not only does this hurt your customer experience and your business, but I would say it also robs your community of a public service.
Imagine an immunocompromised person using cannabis to manage pain. If your state does not allow pickup or delivery, that person must either be at risk of contracting a disease that could kill them or suffering from their pain. If you can’t currently offer pickup and delivery, (1) try to change that and (2) prepare an omnichannel plan so you’re ready when/if the laws change.
For retailers that are currently allowed to do pickup or delivery, your online ordering experience should mirror your in-store experience as much as possible. This means including product descriptions and images, creating filters to make sorting easier, and implementing a customer rating system.
5. Perform pickup and delivery correctly
If a customer places an order and you’ve made a sale, the customer experience is far from over. Now you need to execute this command efficiently and accurately, consistent with your brand and expected level of service.
Pickup and delivery will only have a positive impact on your customer experience if you do it right. This is why it is so important to have a clear and reliable process in place for how each order will be fulfilled.
Once a customer places a pickup order, who inside the store will be responsible for fulfilling the order, and how will they be notified of the order? How will you ensure order accuracy? Will the sales associate double check the order when the customer picks it up? Will you have a separate queue so customers don’t have to wait? How will this line be marked?
For delivery, are you going to offer a pizza delivery model where you deliver as soon as possible, or are you going to offer appointment slots? How will you measure if your drivers are making their deliveries on time? How will you train delivery drivers to ensure they provide excellent service aligned with your brand when they drop off the order?
Alignment is key
Ultimately, omnichannel is the skill and art of aligning your in-store experience and your online web presence. From a customer’s perspective, your website is no different than your physical location – it’s the same store and the same brand.
However, from a staff perspective, the teams that manage the online experience and the in-store experience are often different. Therefore, a concerted effort is needed to ensure that these teams work together.
Ultimately, your job as a retailer is to create a seamless customer experience, whether a customer is buying from your physical store, online, or both, and omnichannel is key to achieving this.
For more tips on how to do omnichannel well, you can find Breaking the Stigma at Amazon. Charlena Berry is the author of Breaking the Stigma: Racism, Lies, the Opioid Endemic and Inviting Grandma to the Dispensary. In this book, she exposes the lies that have created the stigmas associated with cannabis, and how those stigmas must be addressed to see continued growth in the market. It then outlines a framework that provides key strategies retailers should implement to improve the customer experience and increase profitability.
Writing from her experiences in the industry, Berry is a global cannabis executive and the founder of Cannabis business growth, a leading cannabis business consulting firm. Previously, she spent over ten years in supply chain and retail operations for Fortune 500 companies such as Whirlpool and Office Depot/Office Max. She also holds the position of Chief Operating Officer for The cake housea chain of Southern California dispensaries.