Dispensary Shoppers Seek More Info In-Store
Despite the promising pace of states moving to legalize cannabis, plenty of misinformation about the safety, effects and benefits surrounding its use still persist. Decades of negative propaganda campaigns have left a majority of people ill-informed. It’s an unfortunate reality, but it also means that there is an incredible opportunity to help set the record straight for those who are willing to work insanely hard.
As the CEO of a cannabusiness, I’m as encouraged as the rest by the rapid growth of the industry. At the same time, I’m fully aware that cannabis policy and research – two factors that could greatly influence perception – are lagging behind. Not only that, but we absolutely will not see this industry reach its projected potential without widespread adoption and safe access.
The truth is that cannabis is a complex and multidimensional product. There are various product types and chemical profiles that produce different therapeutic effects. There are diverse categories and various delivery methods. The range of choices can be overwhelming – not just for the novice, but even for a more advanced consumer. With so many variables within such a complex topic, it’s easy to see that dispensaries lacked a standard, credible, platform to help consumers make educated choices.
The Front Line of Education
Fair or not, dispensaries are on the front lines of consumer education today. That’s where consumers can reliably turn to get a hands-on education and learn about products from those who know them best: the people selling them. Glossing over this obligation does a disservice to more than just curious consumers who have taken the first big step in their journey by visiting a store.
Taking time to educate consumers is a natural extension of providing a positive overall customer experience. After all, it inspires confidence in customers and makes them feel good about their purchasing decisions. But dispensaries deal with customers of all different knowledge levels – from new consumers who need a “ground-up” education to established customers who want information about a new product in a familiar category. There are even the more complex patients seeking information that skews medical.
Budtenders and Patient Care Advocates are already spread thin. We’ve all read the articles about customers waiting hoursto get into local dispensaries. The culprit is often that salespeople are tied up answering questions. Of course, this isn’t the most efficient use of time for staff of any level – and the wait can wind up hurting the customer experience more than expected.
A High-Tech Approach To Cannabis Education
While having owned several technology companies, technology itself does not get me out of bed in the morning. I find great joy in enhancing business processes, specifically the customer buying process, through technology.
With the huge success we experienced in the interactive consultation we created for Drybar, which “prescribes” the appropriate hair care product for a woman after answering a series of questions, I knew we could apply this methodology and architecture to other industries. After testing several markets it was clear that there was a real problem in the cannabis market that we could help to solve through a digital application. This problem being the overall lack of accurate and consistent information.
Technology solutions are a great way for dispensary owners to manage customer queries. Interactive displays, such as kiosks, can be a deep source of information for consumers looking for specific advice on different product types and their effects.
Kiosks also give consumers a self-service solution. Novice users may feel intimidated or uncomfortable asking a budtender for help. This is especially true for consumers with questions about a health or medical issue. A kiosk provides a safe and discreet way for customers to find products that can help with their ailment.
Millennials are another group that often prefers to tap into digital tools for information. In fact, a report from the International Council of Shopping Centers found that about 86 percent of Millennials use their mobile while shopping in-store. And while Millennials are the most likely to rely on their smartphone, one-third of all shoppers use their mobile devices to look up product information in stores.
Providing an integrated experience that supports both physical and digital browsing allows these consumers to get the most out of the shopping trip. However, the quality of the content in digital displays is ultimately what determines its usefulness. A good interactive device is one that is purely educational, not promotional. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to pay for ads or get sponsored content within these in-store systems.
For dispensaries, digital devices can also be beneficial. They can be programmed in such a way that they don’t contradict a specific state’s restrictions. In addition, customer queries can teach dispensary owners about their clientele. Interactivity is one of the best sources of comprehensive data that a retailer could have access to. When it comes to ease of implementation in relation to expected ROI, interactive has been the top choice for retailers in other industries for many years at this point. The dispensaries that have adopted this proven strategy have by far been the most successful.
More education for cannabis consumers at the store level increases the likelihood that customers will take home the right products, making them more satisfied and giving them a reason to return. Stores that utilize Seed often pride themselves on exceptional customer experience and can relax knowing that they are offering consumers standardized and trustworthy information on a fun, digital platform.
About the Author
Matthew Cutone is the founder and CEO of Seed Technology, the third business he has partnered in and the second he has founded. Previously, he helped lead Horizon Technology from 10 employees and $5m in revenue to over 130 employees and $100m in revenue. In 2007, he co-founded Horizon Display, which brought him closer to the retailer and end user. Horizon Display has created interactive experiences to enhance the retail environment for clients like Tesla, Nike, Acura and Drybar. He’s always had a huge passion for solving real business problems with digital technology, and his prior experience makes him uniquely suited to navigating the developing cannabis industry. He and the Seed team are on a mission to make shopping at a dispensary the same as any other store by coupling self-service with credible education.