First impressions are everything, and for dispensaries and businesses in general, there’s so much value in making the right impression on first-time customers.
In today’s era where social proof — customer reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth recommendations — hold great power in influencing customers’ decision to buy from a brand especially for niche markets like dispensaries, it’s crucial to create a solid strategy on how to make customers feel welcome at the store.
The Value of Making a Good Impression on New Customers
Customer acquisition and customer retention work hand in hand to keep the flow of profit and revenue to your business. We’ve talked about cultivating customer loyalty and re-engaging old customers before, and this time, we’ll discuss the ways you can attract new customers.
It’s a known fact that businesses cannot retain 100% of their current customers, which is why building rapport with new customers is essential. For dispensaries, the need to cultivate a relationship with your new customers is important. For example:
- The cannabis industry is highly regulated, so the customer base can be limited. In this case, acquiring new customers in addition to retaining your existing ones is important to keep the buyer cycle going.
- Dispensaries are growing in numbers, as more and more people are becoming aware of its medicinal benefits. As a brand, it’s important to implement strategies to make your dispensary stand out from the crowd — and it begins with excellent customer experience.
5 Ways to Create a Good Dispensary Experience to First-Time Buyers
So how do you differentiate your brand from other dispensaries? Here are some steps to ensure that first-time customers have a positive shopping experience with your dispensary — both online and in-store:
1. Establish your brand image
Customers create a much deeper bond with a business whose mission and brand culture align with their own. This is why it’s essential to establish your brand image and personalize your goals to things that truly mean something to you. A few things you can do:
- Think of what your target audience would value the most. Remember that there’s no one right characteristic or value, so feel free to explore. Then think of which values matter to you the most and build your dispensary’s culture around them.
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. To implement a cohesive brand experience when they visit both your e-commerce or physical store, try to see your whole process through their eyes. What would make their shopping experience more comfortable and pleasing? Example: for your online store, will a streamlined checkout process be helpful? For your physical store, will a lack of ample parking be a deal breaker?
Once you have a clear message around your brand’s culture, make it known to your customers by making sure that all your marketing messaging is consistent through all your channels.
2. Ensure excellent customer service
In a survey, over 90% of customers report that customer service is a huge deciding factor on whether they want to do business with a brand or not. Customers naturally want to feel valued and cared for, so it makes sense for any type of business to include excellent customer service to be among their top priorities.
For dispensaries, in particular, you want to provide good service all throughout the buying experience: from when the customers are still looking but not yet actively buying, to when they’re finally making a purchase, and especially to the point beyond that, such as when they need aftercare services or make a repeat purchase.
Here are some steps you can take to improve your customer service:
- Have multiple channels for your customer service — give customers versatile ways to reach you.
- Set up a FAQ page for commonly asked questions.
- Ensure that each employee is well-trained to handle customer concerns and complaints.
- Ensure that all concerns are resolved in a timely manner, and if appropriate, offer discounts to compensate.
3. Keep it clean and comfortable
Nothing sets a strong first impression faster than the appearance of your dispensary. Whether it’s your app/website or your physical store, the appearance of your dispensary matters a lot when attracting new customers.
If your dispensary is neat, organized, and generally comfortable to shop in, customers will think that you run your business in a similar manner even before they try your products.
How can you offer a smooth shopping experience for your dispensary? Here are some ideas:
For e-commerce stores
- Organize your product catalog into their appropriate categories and enable filters in Search.
- Enable a bot assistant who can answer commonly asked questions about a product.
- Streamline your checkout and payment processes.
For physical stores
- Ensure that your products are well-organized and that your shop is clean — as we mentioned earlier.
- Make sure that every employee in your dispensary is knowledgeable about your business and are friendly and efficient.
- Design your store to be ergonomic — provide convenient parking space when you can, put ample aisle space for people to move around, make sure the lighting is just right, and be inclusive to people with disabilities.
4. Offer eye-catching products
Let your products speak for themselves. Aside from attractive product packaging, the product placement in your physical store matters too.
Make sure that all your products are neatly situated and that the labels are clear for the customers to read. You want to make sure the customer’s experience is stress-free.
While some customers may have questions about the products, you don’t want to have questions that could be avoided — for example, when products are placed in the wrong spot and the customer is confused by the price.
Additionally, make sure that your store itself is aesthetically pleasing. Start with your storefront — would it catch your attention if you weren’t an employee there? Are the sign and the window display attractive and compelling?
5. Incentivize customers to return
Now that you’ve created an amazing experience for first-time customers, now it’s time to think of ways to keep them coming back. Having incentives for customers is a great way to show customers that you appreciate and value them, and that you’d like for them to return.
At checkout, it’s helpful for budtenders to take the time to educate customers about your loyalty programs and mailing lists. This is a good way to improve customer retention when shopping in-person.
For your online store, enable automatic notifications to customers after checkout, informing them about your loyalty program. Set up a smart system where you can easily onboard new loyalty members, personalize loyalty rewards based on the customer’s behavior, and reliably track points.
One such solution is Alpine IQ’s Loyalty Program system that not only offers a streamlined loyalty program but also ensures that you stay compliant with local regulation across all devices.
Acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones are two important factors in keeping the buyer cycle going. Customers come and go, so it’s crucial for brands, especially those in niche industries like dispensaries, to implement strategies to attract new customers — and it begins with setting a good first impression.
There are several ways you can do this, such as establishing your brand image, ensuring top-tier customer service, keeping your shop clean and comfortable, offering attractive products, and incentivizing repeat customers. The bottom line is that, whatever you choose to do, have your target audience in mind and consider their needs and wants.
A brand that values their customers not only makes a good first impression, it also gives a lasting impression that your dispensary is different from all others.