Creating Customer Experiences for Your Dispensary that Boost Sales and Customer Loyalty

A.W. Naves
March 31, 2023

Buck Dutton is Vice President of Marketing for Native Roots, the largest independent network of cannabis dispensaries in Colorado. His expertise has helped build a strong brand founded on the principles of customer service, superior marketing, merchandising, and pricing strategies that promote a winning customer experience.

In a recent episode of the Kaya Cast podcast, Buck shared some helpful information and tips on enhancing customer experience and boosting customer loyalty.

Achieving a Consistent Customer Experience

The common theme in all of the Native Roots dispensaries is their budtender staff. Each budtender attends training to learn everything they need to know to provide customers with a high-quality customer experience. No matter how the dispensary is set up, budtenders are always ready to help customers make a purchase.

“It's the budtender experience and the education that the budtender has that will give you the same experience no matter where you are when you're in Native Roots.”

Customer Experience Marketing Strategies for Dispensaries

Buck says owners must view their dispensaries just like any other retail establishment. Apply the same retail sales and marketing principles to your cannabis products — but be mindful of what is possible given current laws and regulations. The Native Roots approach to marketing includes:

  •  A social media presence that promotes products and provides education.
  • Emails that include sales promotions, introducing new and current products, and education on cannabis.
  • Video content sharing with captivating educational materials.
  • Print and digital advertising.
  • Event sponsorships.
  • Website content that provides education and facilitates online purchases.

Find the approach that works best for you and adapt it for maximum impact.

“We've been very successful with our email marketing because we have it tied to loyalty points. If you want to earn a point for every dollar you spend, we are going to need some information from you.”

Design for Dispensary Customer Experience

One of the most important aspects of the cannabis experience is meeting the customer where they are. Set up the dispensary to let people shop however they want. They should be able to walk around and learn about new products if desired. And for those in a hurry, making a purchase should be easy and efficient. Include these three key items:

  • Let them handle and explore the packaging, even if it doesn’t contain the actual product.
  • Provide displays that include print and digital education.
  • Make budtenders available to answer questions and close sales.
A tablet and two jars of cannabis flower in a cannabis dispensary.

Standing Out in the Cannabis Market

The key to standing out is connecting with customers on their level. Find out how to fit into the lifestyle of the customer base and approach sales and marketing based on that. In other words — fit in to stand out. If a dispensary is set up in a way that makes it a part of the local vibe, it will stand out as a retailer that belongs in the community.

Tips on Collaborations and Partnerships

Collaborating with other brands and dispensaries is an excellent way to build relationships and drive sales. But attracting customers is only half the battle. Once they step through your door, it is up to your team to secure a sale.

“Our budtenders are so educated that if we can get you in the door, we can find the product that's right for you.”

Seek out mutually beneficial collaborations. For instance, Native Roots works with a grower that provides quality flower in flash-frozen form, which is perfect for loading into the dispensary's cartridges. Working together, they created co-branded live resin cartridges to sell.

Cannabis workers are huddled around a computer collaborating.

Roadblocks Faced by Cannabis Dispensaries

There are several pitfalls on the road to growing a successful cannabis dispensary. Among them include:

  • Dispensaries are limited when it comes to promotional activities. While other retailers can do product giveaways and participate in public events, cannabis businesses face restrictions and often cannot participate in the same ways. 
  • Cannabis retailers are highly stigmatized.
  • Cannabis retailers are over-regulated.
  • The 280e tax regulations eat heavily into profits.

Dispensaries will have to continue to find ways to work around these issues and push for change.

Building a Brand and Brand Loyalty

“What is your promise to the customer?” This should be the first question a dispensary entrepreneur asks themself. Once that decision is made, begin building a solid brand based on the answer. Then provide consistent service and value while meeting this promise — just as any other retailer would do.

“We're not a cannabis company. We're a retail company that happens to sell cannabis.”

Buck continually stresses the importance of educating budtenders to help achieve brand loyalty. Budtenders need to ask the right questions to determine what the customer needs, and then they must be knowledgeable enough to provide them with the best products based on that information.

Final Thoughts on Creating Customer Experiences

Adhering to standard operating procedures, building a solid team, and properly educating staff has led Native Roots to success. These principles can do the same for any growing cannabis business. By prioritizing the customer experience, you will stand out from the competition and build a loyal customer base.

To learn more about creating a successful customer experience that drives sales for your dispensary, check out the full interview with Buck now.

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March 2023


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