Real-Time, Customer-Centric Ecommerce Menu
As with all aspects of retail, understanding the finer points of selling marijuana online involves putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. Just as you wouldn’t visit a restaurant with an out-of-date or hard-to-read menu, you probably wouldn’t visit a dispensary without knowing—in crystal-clear and explicit detail—what its offerings were. Similarly, if you visited a restaurant, took the time to study the menu, and placed your order only to find that the dish wasn’t available, you might think twice about ever visiting again.
You get the point. Competition for cannabis consumers’ attention is only tightening, so keeping an up-to-date, legible, and easy-to-navigate online menu is an absolute must. And because a high proportion of cannabis sales are made by consumers on the go, that means it has to display and function perfectly on mobile devices, too.
Cannabis consumers have more choices than ever, so consider the product selection you offer as a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. Align product choices with your dispensary’s brand identity while also tailoring to your customer personas. Offer a variety of product types and SKUs to cater to varying consumer preferences and keep tabs on market trends and how they impact consumer behavior.
Product descriptions should be sharp, descriptive, and actionable. Use easily digestible and enticingthis copy to support your SEO efforts by optimizing with relevant keywords and phrases while providing visitors with all relevant product details.
What’s more, a well-designed dispensary menu will include intuitive search and filter functionality, clear and sharp product photos, and detailed information (, including packaging and weight) for each and every product.
Seamlessly Integrated POS System
So, how do you build a live, continuously updated online menu? You’ll need to start with the right foundations: a dedicated and custom-built point of sale (POS) system.
If you’re a seasoned retail veteran, you already know what these systems do. Among many valuable functions, when it comes to your online menu being real-time and up-to-date, your POS system should communicate seamlessly between your ecommerce store and in-person terminals so that your dispensary menu is always accurate. Many POS systems include inventory management capabilities, or they can be integrated with an existing inventory system to ensure accuracy across brick-and-mortar and ecommerce stores.
Your POS system must also integrate with your specific state’s cannabis reporting requirements and regulations to ensure you’re always in compliance. Incidentally, if your current POS system is letting you down, we should talk. We’ve built countless custom software packages for businesses ranging from individual “mom-and-pop” dispensaries to large multi-state operators.
Of course, a well-designed POS system should—make that must—do more. On top of ensuring your online and in-person sales are seamless and fast, POS systems gather essential customer data, provide essential business insights, and help you develop more effective customer personas and segmentation strategies to support your digital marketing efforts (more on that in a moment).
Needless to say, these processes are invisible to the consumer. When they study your menu, all they should see is a clear, legible, and well-designed list of your offerings. That’s a great segue into the topic of user experience—better known as “UX”—and all the behind-the-scenes steps you can take to maximize conversions and deliver truly a superior customer experience.
High-Functioning, UX-Focused Website
Above and beyond what your website looks like—all those close-up shots of glistening trichomes and energized, sparkly-eyed consumers—it’s essential that your digital property embodies an intuitive, high-performing, and highly useable design.
This isn’t some lofty aesthetic goal, either:
- Mobile bounce rates increase 32% as page load times go from one to three seconds.
- About 70% of ecommerce carts are abandoned due to a variety of hiccups in the customer experience.
- 84% of consumers say the overall experience a company provides is just as important as their products or services.
Search engines such as Google include UX in ranking factors, and for a good reason: offering a seamless, easy, and enjoyable ecommerce user experience has become the norm and is an expectation of online shoppers.
Want to know more about the tenets of a good website UX? Start here.
Door-to-Door Delivery Service and Cashless Payments
One crucial aspect of online shopping is the convenience of a door-to-door delivery service, something that—until fairly recently—had been missing from the cannabis realm. Cannabis consumers are now beginning to enjoy (and expect) many of the same conveniences available from ecommerce provides across industries, and delivery services are becoming standard.
Another development pushing the business of selling cannabis online is the option for cashless payments. As cash alternatives such as CanPay gain traction, delivery customers will be able to enjoy an experience that more closely resembles the established standards of any regular ecommerce transaction.
Launching a cannabis delivery service is a big undertaking. But as the industry as a whole moves closer to an online model, we predict that a greater proportion of sales will take place online and be fulfilled via delivery service. In fact, some enterprising dispensaries—taking a page from the restaurant business—are even moving to an online-only model. If you’re curious about taking this vertical in house, start with our recent article on the steps needed to launch a cannabis delivery service.
Robust and Responsive Customer Support
With 61% of consumers reporting they would switch to a company’s competitor after one—just one—bad experience, your customer support system can be a highly valuable strategic initiative to retain customers, prevent churn, and build loyalty.
While shopping online, your customers may have specific product questions, want help with your ordering system, or they may have a specific complaint—regardless of the reason for outreach, make sure your support channels are easy to find, offer rapid responses to customer questions, and swift resolution of their issues.
User Reviews and Testimonials
In the cannabis industry, where trust, education, and authenticity are paramount, user reviews and testimonials can be pivotal in building your e-commerce brand. And, given that nearly all consumers use Google reviews to evaluate local businesses, user reviews and testimonials are a marketing asset that can greatly support your local dispensary business.
The Power of User Reviews
When used strategically and managed effectively, these reviews and testimonials can help you create a strong, reputable, and successful online presence through:
- Building trust and credibility. User reviews and testimonials provide authentic, unbiased opinions from actual customers, which can help build trust and credibility for your ecommerce store.
- Providing social proof. Positive reviews and testimonials provide social proof that your products are worth trying.
- Offering educational value. User reviews and testimonials can serve as sources of education for potential customers by sharing their experiences with specific products, cultivars, or consumption methods.
- Highlighting areas for improvement. Negative reviews or constructive feedback can help drive valuable improvements in product offerings or services.
- Supporting SEO. User-generated content provides fresh and relevant information that can enhance your SEO efforts and improve your site’s visibility.
Encouraging Customers to Leave Reviews
Make requests for reviews a touchpoint in your buyer’s journey, and encourage customers to leave reviews by offering incentives such as discounts or added bonuses to your loyalty program.
Showcasing User Reviews and Testimonials on Your Site
There is a wide variety of review tools available to choose from, many of which can be seamlessly integrated into your online store and include widgets for displaying your reviews.
Consider the most impactful and strategic locations where reviews and testimonials could be placed on your site, such as the homepage and on product pages, for example. Ideally, those reviews are tailored to the relevant products.
Selling Cannabis Online: The Role of Dispensary Marketing
Okay, we’ve talked a little about how tweaking and optimizing your online menu—and offering customers the convenience of cannabis delivery—can have a real and measurable impact on your bottom line.
But what about the tools that bring people to your website in the first place? We’re talking, of course, about the cutting-edge marketing tools the folks at MediaJel use every day to help dispensaries meet and then exceed their expectations.
Needless to say, the topic of marketing is a big one. So, let’s focus on a few subjects as they relate to selling marijuana online:
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
- Social Media Marketing
- Leveraging SMS/Text
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising
This is a big one. PPC ads are digital ads hosted on search engines, websites, or apps that offer such advertising space. Unlike traditional ads—whose fees are tabulated based on the number of expected impressions—the cost of PPC ads is determined by the actual number of consumers who click on them. That’s a major refinement, and when properly executed, it can lead to some impressive clickthrough rates and return on ad spend (ROAS).
Social Media Advertising
Though some dispensary owners/operators are still under the misconception that they can’t market on social media, they can—and it can be a remarkably effective strategy. Social media remains a hugely important arena for businesses to interface with potential consumers and even brand loyal customers who might add digital purchases to their routine.
That said, social media marketing takes finesse. For one thing, there’s no actual selling marijuana on social media. For another, most platforms disallow product and consumption shots. Still, by harnessing the power of imagery and association, many cannabis brands succeed by demonstrating their associations with self-care, wellness, and leisure.
This leads to influencer marketing, another strong focus for us here at MediaJel. Simply put, influencer marketing harnesses the power of third-party “influencers” who have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of their authority, their knowledge, or some other relation to their audience. Especially in the cannabis realm, it’s a powerful approach to leveraging social media.
If you want to learn more about the core principles of social media marketing for dispensaries, begin here.
Text It To Me!
Looping back to the topic of dispensary menus, a well-designed platform will integrate with your SMS / text marketing database—the one your robust POS system helps keep populated with your first-party customer data. This allows you to share brief menu links with those customers who’ve signed up for offers and updates, among other handy integrations.
Why lean on SMS, instead of a platform capable of sharing more robust or image-heavy updates? Sometimes it’s good to be quick and dirty. Text message marketing often boasts a remarkably high open and response rate. It’s a simple and easy-to-implement way to share content you’ve already generated—your menu—with maximum impact.
Check out how we leverage SMS marketing at MediaJel to begin.
Compliance and Legal Regulations for Selling Weed Online
As a cannabis business owner, you’ll know that compliance with state and local cannabis regulations is standard operating procedure. When selling marijuana online, you’ll need to ensure compliance carries over from your brick-and-mortar store to your ecommerce operations in areas such as:
- Legal regulation around purchase quantities
- Age verification
- Product descriptions and claims
- Payment processing
- Data security and privacy
- Packaging and labeling
- Shipping and delivery
Non-compliance in any of these areas can result in severe consequences, including fines and loss of licenses. Since regulatory landscapes are often changing, particularly in newer cannabis markets, be sure to stay up-to-date on these changes and how they may impact your dispensary marketing and operations.
Build Your Ecommerce Dispensary with Confidence
As ecommerce continues to shape customer expectations and influence the way we shop, having an ecommerce store has become a must for brick-and-mortar cannabis dispensaries. We hope this introductory guide has given you some valuable insight into how to sell weed online.
As a pioneering digital marketing and advertising partner for the cannabis industry, MediaJel has developed a suite of marketing solutions that can help cannabis retailers operate efficiently, stay compliant, and build stronger relationships with their customers.
By leveraging the wide variety of solutions that emerging marketing technologies offer, dispensaries can not only optimize their operations but also improve customer engagement and stay ahead of the competition in an increasingly saturated market.
If you’re ready to take your sales to the next level, we believe we can help. Reach out; we’d love to talk.
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