a worldwide window into your business
Here’s a fact: It's 2019. Another fact: the internet dictates a lot of what goes on in and around our lives. Whether it be Amazon or Instagram, the internet keeps us connected to things the generations prior didn’t ever think was possible. Entire industries have been unlocked and redefined from the palm of your hand, made possible from our access to the world wide web. But you’re only here to talk about one industry in particular: cannabis retail.
the age of e-commerce
Some more facts: In 2009, e-commerce (electronic commerce) only made up 5.1% of total retail purchases, per Digital Commerce 360. However, later research revealed that as of 2018, e-commerce accounted for 14.3% of total retail sales when factoring out the sale of items not normally purchased online, such as:
- Sales in restaurants
Those sales cash in at $517 billion, representing a 15% jump from 2017. Compare that to the only 3.4% increase in brick-and-mortar shops, and e-commerce has more than doubled its share of retail sales in less than ten years.
So judging from the opening of this article, you hopefully have a website for your company already integrated it into your business model and thus know what e-commerce does to your bottom line (and if you haven’t, make a new tab immediately and Google ‘How to Make an E-Commerce Website’- we’ll discuss commission later).
whole lotta untapped revenue
The vast majority of retailers were forced to adapt to the digital age; some floundered (Barnes and Noble), and some used the new wave to monopolize their markets (Amazon). And the truth is that there is room for Amazon-type growth in the exact market that brought you to this website: cannabis retail. According to MJBiz Daily, 2019 marijuana sales:
- Are on pace to eclipse $12 billion, almost a 35% spike from ‘18
- Could rise as high as $30 billion by 2023
- May reach $47.3 billion in 2027
And it’s only legal in 11 states at the time of publishing.
With the popularity and legal status (and, not to mention, the revenue) of the plant only growing throughout North America, that only means more opportunity to expand your reach of customers from Vancouver to Boston- all from your palm/lap/desk.
The lock keeping you from maximizing this avenue of revenue? Attracting new customers and impressing them enough to keep coming back, hopefully with some friends. Your key: a modern, well-oiled website with a kickass dispensary loyalty program that rewards new and repeat customers, turning them all into loyal customers. Good news - you’ve come to the right locksmith. Follow these tips from the leading CRM in the cannabis industry to leverage your rewards program for a jump in sales and a continually-growing customer base.
1. a great user interface (UI) and user experience (UX)
In this day and age, the quality of a company’s website is the first indicator of its competence and professionalism that the customer sees when looking into a company. So many times does someone hear or see a well-placed ad that piques their interest, leading them to the website to find out more. It takes .05 seconds (Google says as little as .017 seconds) for someone to form an opinion of whether to stay or go to another website. That’s your window to serve up a great first impression with an impressive, high-functioning website to tell the customer you’re not here to play games- only to play ball.
Pimping your website with a nice design, color scheme, and smooth actions will only guide the user deeper into your site. Come for the product, stay for the aesthetically-pleasing experience, and come back for the rewards, but we’ll get to rewards in a minute.
A challenge that making your store available to whoever and whenever is making sure you’re accessible to them wherever and whenever. Whether the thought of your brand pops into their head walking to work on their phone, on the computer at work, or in bed on the iPad, making your website available and easy to use regardless of scenario will only create more scenarios for your website to be accessed and used- ultimately exactly what websites are made for. And the best way to make sure you’re always open for business is to make your website responsive.
A responsive website is one designed to respond and resize itself based on the size of the screen it's being viewed on, including:
This allows customers to access your site with any device they find themselves handling at any given time, further opening up chances to rack up clicks and dollars spent on your site. And if you think mobile adaptivity isn’t a “difference maker”, think again: In 2015, Google released a new algorithm that heavily factors in a website’s mobile-friendliness. Since then, mobile traffic has been more active than on the computer with over 79% of all online searches now coming from mobile devices, as well as a sharp decline in SEO (search engine optimization) for non-mobile sites.
(Pro tip: Along with being available to the customer, your website also has to perform at a high level to keep the customer from clicking out: keep loading times for each page under 3 seconds to minimize bounce rates)
So you see the importance of having a dynamic and well-run website to cater to the dynamic lives of customers, but we’re going to let you in on a way to become part of your customer’s dynamic lives. Keep reading.
In a market where the majority of retailers are offering (pretty much) the same product, any way to separate yourself from your competitors to keep customers away from them is a big win. But to keep customers away from them and loyal to you? That’s every retailer's dream. Well, welcome to Disney World because your dreams are about to come true.
2. a convenient and kickass loyalty program
An actual conversation I had with my coworker, Justin:
Me: “Hey man, I like those sweats. Where’d you get ‘em?”
Justin: “Thanks bro, they’re from (clothing brand). They sent me a coupon ‘cuz I haven’t shopped there for a while, copped ‘em for, like, mad cheap.”
Me: “Damn, I gotta get on those sales, those are dope.”
Justin: “Yeah bro, I’ll refer you right now.”
I signed up for their texts that day; they sent me a ‘welcome to the club’ coupon a few hours later. Guess who's going shopping later with 20% off their first purchase?
Moral of the story- offering a healthy dose of rewards (best to do it through text- trust us) will incentivize customers to join and keep coming back. A loyalty reward program makes them feel -drumroll- rewarded for their loyalty. The cost of these rewards will be shake compared to the nugs of revenue coming in (every pun intended). So make sure you’re program is two things: kickass and convenient.
A couple of mom-and-pop coffee shops have been enjoying record highs as of late because of a revamped loyalty program. You might have heard of them: Starbucks and Dunkin’. After a dip in 2018, shares are up 29% and 25% year-to-date respectively. They’ve been a staple for caffeine lovers on almost every street corner for many years, so why are they popping now?
Because they’ve both recently updated their loyalty rewards program, integrating it into the buying process completely, both online and in store. They also offer actually useful rewards (free coffee, food, etc.) as well as encouraging their customers to use their points/stars/smiley-face stickers towards more rewards, resulting in bigger and more frequent purchases. Why? Because giving people free stuff for just buying things they already need/want (i.e. coffee, donuts, weed) is a great way to keep them coming back for those needs/wants from you and you only. That is something that can be very profitable in this line of work, especially when you’re rewarding them with more of those needs/wants.
Dunkin’ and Starbucks have great rewards programs, but a big reason why they’re so good is because people:
- enjoy their products, creating a sense of security knowing that spending = great product
- know about the rewards and how to access them easily in order to use them.
I know you’re already taking care of A, so we’ll help you take care of B: a loyalty tab on your website homepage that’s noticeable and easy to use for both returning customers trying to log in and new customers trying to sign up.
Integrating your loyalty program into your website can go a lot further than you think. Research shows:
- About 83% of people said loyalty programs make them more likely to keep buying from a certain business
- 70% decided where they shop based on where they can earn rewards points
People like to feel exclusive in any way, whether it's at the cool kids’ table or Costco. Reaching out to them to help them save money at your store - rewarding them for being apart of the ‘cool kids’ will only make them want to be cooler. Throw them a bone and they’ll come to you for their bowls of chow come feeding time.
3. an inspired aesthetic
We used to live in a world where people would associate the marijuana business with sketchy head shops decorated in psychedelic posters and non-stop reggae music. While those things are still awesome, it is more common to find cannabis retailers that look like an Apple store, dentist office, or top-shelf cigar bar. Yes, the face of cannabis has changed.
Likewise, it is vital that this same air of professionalism and comfort also be represented in your online aesthetic.
We said before that a website is “another avenue for revenue,” but something else a website does for your company is it makes a pitch for your brand without you having to say a word- just let your products do the talking. But ‘products’ don’t only mean what you’re selling to the customer; ‘products’ are whatever results from the efforts put into your brand, such as:
- Your brick-and-mortar store
- A functioning and well-branded website
- Relationships with customers
All of those things represent your company and testify to the quality you’ve ensured is in every ‘product’ you touch that’s associated with your brand. But talk is cheap; show them what you’re about with images attesting to the high standard of excellence you’ve worked so hard to maintain.
Bottom line and last batch of facts: visuals make up a good portion of people’s opinion of a site. In a study done by British researchers about what parts of a website people tend to focus on, a staggering trend appeared. Spoiler alert: people can be quick to conclusions and superficial.
- 94% of impressions were design related (text, colors, spacing, etc.), which means...
- Only 6% of reviews were about the actual content of the website
The takeaway is simple: make your website look pretty and people will stick around a lot longer, likely making your dispensary an experiment-turned-routine on the grocery list.
Visuals are a unique way to portray the vision you have for your brand because a picture really is worth a thousand words. Photos of a nice, clean store give the viewer a this-place-has-their-shit-together sense of security, as well as inviting them to come to see that you really do have your shit together. Attractive photos of your items and selection will tell the customer about the quality of experience they can’t get anywhere else. A quote of a positive review of your product… you get the point.
And the truth is that it’s up to you how to portray your vision. If you want to button up your site and go for the no-nonsense look, use one of the ideas mentioned above. Or if you want to have some fun with it, feel free to throw up a meme or catchy GIF - people’s eyes are attracted to movement, plus a quick laugh is always appreciated by an unsuspecting window-shopper. Both are equally common and effective ways to relate to the viewer; use the devilishly creative mind that got you this far and you should be fine.
So there you have it, folks. You need a website in order to stay afloat in the modern marketplace, and the better it works (and looks), the more likely people are to trust your products and in turn, your brand. But in the end, what keeps you a step ahead of the competition will be how active you are with your rewards, never giving the customer a reason to go anywhere else.