Although cannabis sales typically rise on and around April 20 (colloquially 420), operators need to make sure they are ready to deal with the potential rush. 420 is many things, but it is not a guarantee of increased sales. Shops need to be at the top of both their digital and brick-and-mortar games if they want to maximize the potential of the cannabis “holiday.” If customers wait in long lines (definitely not a good idea during COVID-19), struggle to find what they want on a clunky website, or cannot clearly understand promotions, they may take their business elsewhere.
Nevertheless, 420 is the perfect day to bulk up the bottom line and attract new long-term customers, even if it can be a hectic time for dispensary staff and management. Despite a store team’s stress level, internal chaos should not impact the customer experience.
“Whether customers are shopping in-store, express online, or via delivery, we want the experience to be seamless from start to finish,” said Jen Barry, vice president of retail for Glass House Group, which operates The Farmacy and The Pottery. “We want people to feel taken care of, and they shouldn’t need a decoder to understand all the deals being offered.”
Although there always will be differences between the online and in-store experiences, some things remain the same.
“As to our merchandising approach, in both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce, we have two key tenets: Keep it simple and go big or go home,” Barry said.
The past year has been incredibly difficult, but with vaccinations proceeding and a bit of light at the end of the tunnel consumers are seeking to regain some sense of normalcy. Jushi Holdings Inc. Chief Creative Officer Dre Neuman believes cannabis shops should do everything they can to prepare for a big rush on 420.
“Doing your research cannot be understated,” he said. “We expect this 420 to be massive — the biggest one yet. We plan to have extra staff on-site to make sure people socially distance and we can handle the demand we’re expecting. Throughout the week of 420, we’ll also be handing out free masks, hand sanitizers, and other merchandise where we’re allowed to do so.”
Online shopping was already a building trend, even for cannabis shops, when the pandemic hit, but health hazards and lockdowns made consumers rely on e-commerce more than ever. Although things are improving in regard to the coronavirus, some new consumer habits will remain. Neuman has prioritized a clean and easy online shopping experience, even for customers who will continue to visit brick-and-mortar locations.
“Digital online shopping experiences enable consumers to view real-time pricing and product availability, shop for brands online, and then reserve products for convenient in-store pickup at our retail locations,” explained Dre, whose creative vision informed the design of the growing Beyond / Hello dispensary chain.
For Jennifer Dooley, Chief Strategy Officer at Green Thumb Industries, perfecting the basics of the cannabis consumer experience is critical. She expects 420 to attract a mix of both seasoned customers and curious first-timers.
“We believe cannabis is for everyone,” she said. “So, while our shelves are certainly stocked with a variety of cannabis products for 420, our Rise dispensaries are equipped with knowledgeable budtenders and pharmacists who can help new and returning customers feel comfortable and informed so they’re able to enjoy the holiday safely.”