Does your dispensary have a strong online presence? If not, you may be losing sales. As with traditional retail, cannabis consumers often begin their journey online by googling “dispensary near me” or typing in the kind of product they seek. Some use search engines to locate specific brands, and a growing number want to order and possibly even pay online, setting foot in a brick-and-mortar space only to pick up the merchandise.
Successful dispensaries realize this and elevate the consumer experience by mirroring the strategies of online retail giants: user-friendly, easy-to-navigate sites and key performance indicators related to increased conversion rates, organic search traffic, increased basket size, and other sales metrics.
When it comes to targeting customers in a highly competitive retail marketplace, it pays to stay up to date with best practices and trends that attract online shoppers. Think like the big-box stores, and you can increase your sales.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Focus on efficiency
A dispensary website designed to attract, retain, and convert customers is essential. Employ a customer-centric, conversion-focused approach that maximizes ecommerce and attracts high-quality organic traffic, thereby boosting sales performance.
First and foremost, this means optimizing your site for speed and efficiency. Help customers quickly find what they are looking for by tailoring the website to prioritize product search. The fewer clicks required to find what they seek, the more likely the customer will stay on the site and make a purchase.
Furthermore, personalization is essential. Allow customers to create an account, then utilize the data you collect from their activities to create a customized shopping experience. Make sure the site quickly finds the closest physical location and sets it as the consumer’s primary store. Increase basket sizes by showcasing new or trending products, specials, and sales events. Upsell by suggesting additional items based on the data you have collected from their previous visits.
Optimize for mobile sales
More consumers are shopping from their phones, so make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices to give your customers a seamless shopping experience. Having a mobile-friendly website also can help you reach a larger audience by improving your search engine optimization (SEO) with Google and other services that prioritize mobile-friendly sites.
Say goodbye to iframes
An estimated 80 percent of dispensaries use iframes to enable online ordering, thanks to the widespread availability of third-party ecommerce providers who do all the heavy lifting involved in coding and implementation. Although third-party menus are easy to embed in a webpage and may look appealing, search engines consider the content within an iframe to be the property of the third-party provider’s website, not the dispensary’s. That means all the carefully optimized SEO credit goes to the provider.
While iframes won’t hurt your SEO ranking, they won’t help it, either. In addition, activity within iframes cannot be tracked by the dispensary—only by the provider. Furthermore, iframes can present usability issues for consumers using some mobile browsers. Current best practices suggest using other HTML techniques to embed content.
Keep an eye on trends
A shift in the consensus about iframes is only one of the digital trends dispensaries’ internet technology team members should watch. Others include advertising policies, programmatic options, tracking and analytics, and audience segmentation.
As more states legalize cannabis, search-engine marketing and pay-per-click advertising policies at major search engines and social media platforms may become more lenient, creating new opportunities to promote products and services. Google, Microsoft’s Bing, and X (formerly Twitter) already have relaxed their restrictions on digital advertising. Others will follow.
Platforms that focus on cannabis consumers are growing as the industry expands, offering new and more targeted ways to reach potential customers. Compliant programmatic-display advertising options can boost visibility and brand awareness.
More sophisticated tracking and analytics tools emerge almost daily. Improved tools can provide dispensaries with more robust insights, allowing more precise campaign optimization and better returns on investment.
Dispensaries are focusing on segmenting their audiences and tailoring their messaging to specific consumer groups in order to achieve more personalized and effective advertising campaigns. Evolving data technologies also allow marketers to create “lookalike audiences,” which can help dispensaries find and attract new-to-them consumers who resemble customers they’ve already converted into fans.
Despite challenges and limitations, dispensaries can optimize their websites to improve visibility and utilize conversion-tracking to achieve their sales goals. By implementing effective ecommerce strategies and thinking like online retail giants in mainstream industries, dispensaries can navigate the evolving landscape and successfully reach their target audience.
Dan Mondello is co-founder and CEO at Rank Really High, a retail-first ecommerce website developer specializing in dispensary websites. Previously, he co-founded Home & Local Services and Dealer Teamwork—both Google Premier Partners and Microsoft Accredited Businesses. He was a finalist in the 2018 Google Innovation Awards in the mobile ads category and is the owner of multiple software patents.