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Create an Engaging Shopping Experience

The modern cannabis consumer would love to go visit a store to see and smell all the different strains available, but that can’t happen.

Regulations call for opaque child-proof product containers and a limited number of sensory display containers. Therefore, consumers have to trust staff’s recommendations. This provides cannabis retailers with a unique opportunity to capture their customers’ attention and build lasting relationships.

The importance of customer loyalty cannot be understated in the current retail landscape, especially in a highly competitive industry such as cannabis. Customer loyalty is directly tied to customers having an engaging shopping experience.

A positive shopping experience starts with meaningful interaction with staff and a well-designed store. Effective use of floor space allows customers to comfortably browse through a store’s offerings without being hassled or crowded by other customers.

With high-volume traffic we have to be ready with a clear path to purchase.

“Consumers are looking for a convenient and relaxed environment where they can learn more about all the different products that are available to them,” says Neal Claassen, strategy business development, at Sevenpoint Interiors. “They will look for opportunities to educate themselves and to be educated by knowledgeable staff. Most importantly, they will want to find a store that they can trust and feel safe in.”

Here are five things retailers can do to create an engaging client experience and increase client loyalty:

  1. Create Agile Store Design
  2. Differentiate Your Design
  3. Reflect the Local Environment
  4. Use Sensory Display Containers Effectively
  5. Utilize Engaging Educational Materials

Create Agile Store Design

When choosing the appropriate design for a store Neal stated that many retailers are conscious of an ever evolving industry. He suggested that retailers should try to use furniture over fixtures whenever possible. This allows retailers the flexibility to change the layout of their store based on evolving demands.

At the moment many consumers are new to cannabis and need more time with staff. However, a large portion of cannabis consumers are regular shoppers and they know what they want. This creates an environment where some customers need up to 20 minutes and others need less than two minutes. According to Claassen, “right now the primary concern in cannabis store design is to deal with a two-minute customer. With high-volume traffic we have to be ready with a clear path to purchase. It is easy to design areas in a store that are away from the cash areas where a more in-depth one-on-one interaction can take place. Modern, mobile point-of-sale systems can also assist in dealing with this.”

Differentiate Your Store Design

It is very important to create a unique brand identity that is represented in your store design. Currently many retail stores and malls are using a lot of the same design elements, such as living walls. While these can be beautiful designs, it becomes harder to stand out.

Retailers should focus on what makes them unique and incorporate those elements into their design. This will help create a lasting image in a customer’s mind.

While current regulations do not permit celebrity endorsements, they do not stop brands from using visual elements from other industries such as entertainment, art, or tourism. Some retailers may have a connection to the music industry. They can display pictures of concerts or music festivals, as long as they are careful and do not promote a lifestyle.

Reflect the Local Environment

Many consumers now prefer to purchase locally produced products and support local businesses. It is important for retailers to reflect their local environment and be good neighbours. This helps create a bond with neighbourhood consumers.

Retailers can create displays in their stores that highlight local products, producers, or artists. There are many talented glass blowers across the country that can supply unique accessories, and the new micro-grower regulations will provide retailers with a source of locally grown craft cannabis. Unique strains from small batch growers are likely to attract enthusiasts and keep them coming back.

Having a spot in your store dedicated to locally produced products will create an attraction for consumers to come back and check on. Retailers can also add a unique touch to each store by displaying pictures of local landmarks or incorporating local architectural trends into their store design.

Use Sensory Display Containers Effectively

Most cannabis consumers would like to see and smell cannabis before they buy it. Retailers should use their sensory display containers to help engage with customers and highlight different features of the strains available.

Retailers can create displays in their stores that highlight local products, producers, or artists.

Many consumers are unaware of terpenes and their role. Retailers can use sensory containers to help customers easily identify terpenes such as pinene or limonene. Once customers understand the importance of terpenes they can be taught how to journal their experiences. This can create a lasting relationship where regulars come back to share their experience with staff. In addition to terpenes, staff can also teach consumers about what constitutes high quality cannabis and how different licensed producers work to add value.

Jesse Colosimo, trade marketing and education manager for 7ACRES, advises that they have found great success in sharing how they define their high-end cannabis with retailers using the 7ACRES’ grading scale. Colosimo says, “The scale gives retailers the ability to structure the conversation about the product being considered. This dialogue is paramount to being able to deliver the experience that customers come to expect in modern retail. Additionally, customers can learn what defines high and low quality cannabis, enhancing their ability to make discerning decisions about the cannabis they choose to buy.”

Utilize Effective Educational Materials

Since staff is not allowed to impart a lot of information to customers, educational materials are needed to inform clients.

Clarity Cannabis operates a store in High River, Alberta and Amanda Sannella, purchasing manager, explains, “For educational content, we utilize digital screens as well as analog materials, and face-to-face contact with our highly trained staff.”

A balanced approach such as Clarity Cannabis’ that utilizes both digital and analog materials can ensure that every customer’s needs are met effectively. Retailers should also utilize their digital screens to provide useful information, such as how to use or clean accessories. Analog materials can be useful to provide information on new stock or promotions.

Fire & Flower have card wall displaying product cards that contain a lot of useful strain related information. Cards such as these allow customers to learn more about what’s in stock without needing assistance from staff.

Retailers must properly utilize all of the different facets of creating a positive emotional shopping experience. Agile store design and effective utilization of space will allow stores to manage customers based on demand. A well-designed store with staff that effectively engage with customers using sensory containers and educational materials will provide a great shopping experience and increase customer loyalty.