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5 Tips in Curating the Customer Experience

Brick-and-mortar retailers must differentiate themselves from online sellers. The best way is to create nurturing, rewarding shopping experiences.




IN AN AGE where digital access exists for nearly anything we could want to buy, brick-and-mortar retailers need to offer in-store experiences that consumers want to show up for in person. The hook can be education, product guidance, a unique atmosphere, loyalty programs or something else.

The following tips will help bring value to retailers trying to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Create an Experience

When consumers walk into your retail store, is it set up in a way that sets the desired tone for your brand?

  • ENTERTAIN PEOPLE. If you get long lines with customers waiting around for service, you should have a comfortable seating area and things to entertain people while they wait. It’s fine to have a few key marketing items but balance them with customer-centric touches—a stoner movie, music, a free drink station.
  • SMARTEN UP YOUR LAYOUT. Once customers get into the store, is it easy to navigate and find products? In general, many customers want staff help but having a floor plan that is as self-navigable as possible saves both shoppers and staff time.
  • TEACH AS YOU GO. Have educational material available and easily visible throughout the store. These can be branded posters, acrylic displays by the products and even staff t-shirts. We suggest focusing on the most common consumer questions about cannabis.

Curate for Efficacy and Quality

We have been to too many stores where the product selection is all over the place and frankly overwhelming. We recommend having a thoughtful strategy in your selection.

  • ORGANIZE BY QUALITY. We see retailers have the most success with selections curated to showcase different quality tiers that include low, mid-tier and premium options. Perhaps look at how liquor retailers use their shelf displays to communicate different qualities (and price tags). Another common practice is to organize product by range of effects, from uplifting day-use blends to energy-neutral to nighttime relaxing options.
  • DELIVER FOR EVERYBODY’S NEEDS. Consider your different customers’ lifestyles and needs and make sure you have range in your form factors and potencies. Common form factors to stock include drinks, edibles, tinctures, flower, pre-rolls, vapes and dabs.
  • BE CLEAR ABOUT POTENCY. With potencies, it is especially important to communicate what customers are looking at. Doing so can dramatically increase your sales. Make sure you have products that are formulated for both medical and recreational use. Not everyone coming into your store wants to get as high as possible!

Having different ratio blends to address lower and higher THC needs is critical. A good baseline range of products to have is a high THC-to-low CBD group, a 1:1 group, and high CBD-to-low THC options.

Train Up Your Staff

We haven’t been to many dispensaries where consumers didn’t have questions relating to which product types were best for their needs or which product was better between two brands. And to be perfectly honest, we have been to quite a few stores where the advice given by budtenders wasn’t very useful or accurate.

Don’t be one of those guys. Consumer trust is important and valuable.

Giving your customers accurate and helpful recommendations builds loyalty and referrals like nothing else. Here are a couple of ideas to help your staff help your customers:

  1. Create training videos for staff.
  2. Make a private YouTube channel for your training videos for easy access.
  3. Ask your vendors for any educational and training videos they have.

Store Product Correctly

We cringe when we go into retailers selling our products and they have all the inventory in a display that’s deteriorating in the sweltering heat of a non-climate controlled store. It’s not uncommon to find the product storage room is not temperature- and humidity-controlled. This is so important. Please take the time to research best practices for storing the products you sell. Good heuristics include lower humidity, 65-70 degrees (with minimal temperature swings especially when storing flower), airtight containers and no direct light exposure.

Win Your Customers’ Hearts

If you aren’t already offering swag to your customers, we recommend adding it to your budget. One note here—don’t be cheap! If you are going to spend the money on goodies for your regulars, spend it wisely. Don’t get stuff that’s so junky people will just end up throwing it away. Complimentary lighters and matches no-brainers. T-shirts are walking billboards.

Lastly, we want to see you get that loyalty program growing if you aren’t already. Allow people to earn points and access special discount days by being a member. Get email and text signups. Text is our favorite and it has the highest open rate—just don’t abuse it!

Von Dellinger is director of innovation at The Hemp Collect, an Oregon-based manufacturer working with quality-focused brands, processors and retailers in cannabis and hemp. Want to be at the forefront of quality and innovation? Get in touch.



Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified

Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.

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