The line between the traditional retail experience and that of dispensaries continues to blur. As of late, an increasing number of dispensaries have begun to incorporate strategies that have paid off immensely for other verticals. Even with the unique limitations imposed on cannabis businesses, there are certain aspects of a successful retail store that dispensaries have adopted in order to stay competitive in a rapidly growing market.
More and more, customers are demanding that visiting a dispensary be as painless and streamlined as any other store. Dispensaries that rise to the occasion have much to gain compared to those that are slow to evolve.
Luckily, meeting these new expectations do not have to be incredibly difficult or costly. One of the easiest upgrades a dispensary can make is through digital signage. In this article, we’ll explore five of the top reasons why placing digital signage in a dispensary can have a profound impact on everything from brand recognition to the bottom line.
#1: Technology is an amazing educational tool.
These days, it seems most people would agree that they prefer to do things on their own time… no matter what that particular “thing” is. Considering the complexity and lingering stigma of cannabis, it’s no surprise that many are not comfortable being entirely open with dispensary staff, no matter how welcoming or knowledgable the staff may appear. Why else do people Google questions that they could never dream of asking aloud?
Luckily, technology has become increasingly accessible, not only for the end-user but for retailers that benefit from its implementation. This, in turn, has made it an invaluable tool during this transition when education has moved from being considered a luxury to an absolute necessity. At this point in the industry’s history, it is clear that cannabis education will be critical to the individual, and collective, success.
Familiar touchscreen displays are able to continually evolve, which matters, even more, when each day sees a new breakthrough in research, or available inventory is changing for any number of reasons. Consumers expect to set the tone and pace of their experience, so it makes sense that they would prefer self-guided paths of exploration to being subjected to someone else’s questionable spiel.
#2: It improves the experience in any industry.
On the topic of customer experience, the unfortunate truth is that many dispensaries still leave a lot to be desired. The overwhelming reaction from shoppers is that it is, well, overwhelming. There are so many products, yet there’s such little information on them. Equally frustrating is the complexity of cannabis, from consumption methods to cannabinoid content.
Whenever a store can provide an education that is both informative and entertaining, it allows current and would-be consumers to build their confidence. When they are eventually ready to talk with a staff member, they likely will have an idea of what they want. With the basics covered, the pair can dive deeper into the proper product recommendations.
Interestingly, the staff feels less pressure to cut their encounters short since they are no longer the sole source of education in the store. As a result, the perceived wait time is down, and transactional velocity goes up. Customers leave feeling more comfortable with their purchase, as well as the overall experience.
#3: Customers continue to love (and look for) it.
Most customers can very quickly sense when a business acknowledges their reliance on a technology-driven shopping experience. At this stage, interactive digital signage is preferred by many for its ease of use and anonymity. Add in the ability to deliver credible, digestible cannabis and product information, and a dispensary can appeal to their customers’ appetite.
This second step is where stores may struggle. Like it or not, it feels like it is becoming the dispensary’s obligation to educate consumers. It’s no easy task to ensure that consumers are receiving accurate information at a time when the sweeping statements yielded from a quick search are not always (if ever) evaluated. So, although whipping out a smartphone while sitting in a waiting room might be fine for mindlessly scrolling social media, it often only leads to frustration when looking for credible cannabis education. Having a trusted source of such information saves those customers from frantically searching and coming up empty.
#4: Overcoming marketing challenges.
The cannabis industry continues to be subjected to severely restrictive marketing and advertising regulations, which of course vary by state. How can dispensaries break free and still be successful in light of these rules? By focusing their efforts on, and bringing innovation to, the in-store experience.
“68% of customers note that digital signage would make them more likely to buy advertised products. Forty-four percent even stated that it would influence them to buy the advertised product instead of a product they already planned to purchase.” (Source: Nielsen via MRR)
If a dispensary cannot build loyalty to its brand through traditional means, then that loyalty must be created and fostered by the retail atmosphere. Customers typically prefer to visit a store that is modern, consistent, knowledgeable and trustworthy. These are all impressions that a dispensary can make through interactive displays, an updated aesthetic and an emphasis on education.
#5: Interactivity creates invaluable data.
It’s harder to state who benefits more from interactivity. Consumers absolutely appreciate the element of self-exploration, browsing whatever information they wish on their own time. On the other end, the stores have insight into these customers like never before. Not to mention, they are able to act on these insights, which will make all the difference. According to Salesforce, “2019 will be the dawn of a new level of customer engagement that is only made possible via mature data management and intelligence that will determine retailer winners in this renaissance.” (Source)
Thankfully, this “closer customer engagement will provide invaluable guidance to retailers looking to grow their businesses: making stronger connections beneficial to both groups” (Source). Armed with this data, a dispensary is now able to decide what products to stock, where the market is going and which topics their staff should be well-versed in.
Whether it’s novice consumers evaluating products for the first time, or experienced customers exploring new products to the market, the burden to properly showcase and educate largely falls on the dispensary. More importantly, it’s an obligation that cannot afford to be overlooked. As dispensaries continue to adopt successful retail strategies and invest in both design and experience, interactive digital signage will naturally be a part of that model. To learn more about how education enhances the experience and increases sales, as well as the statistics on how these displays facilitate these improvements, download the infographic, Why Cannabis Education is Critical.