The American cannabis industry has come a long way since its legalization across the country. Its popularity crossed all marks during the pandemic as thousands of Americans embraced it as a mental wellness aid.
The incredible healing benefits it offers make it much more than a recreational substance. The inclusion of weed in the list of essentials fueled its popularity even more. It comes as no surprise that more and more entrepreneurs are keen to join the cannabis retail bandwagon.
But growing opportunities also translate into the booming competition, so sustaining and becoming successful is easier said than done. The competitors will always try something better to grab your share of attention and audience.
If you have your eyes set on starting a cannabis retail business in 2021, you need to understand the current challenges and opportunities. If you are a step ahead, it will be a lot easier to beat the competition and emerge as a winner. Here are some guidelines for cannabis retailers to grow in the new normal.
Customer safety should be your top priority
Despite the flattening curves and vaccine rollouts in the country, the threat of the virus is far from over. Nothing matters more than staying safe for people, and businesses have to go the extra mile with consumer safety.
If you want to sustain foot traffic in your store, you must focus on sanitation and social distancing. Mandate mask-wearing for everyone in-store and put-up signs to curb crowding. Ensure that customers and employees follow the rules all the time. Signage about safety measures goes much beyond educating your buyers. It also reassures them that you have done your bit to ensure their safety within the retail premises.
Employee training and health checks are crucial
While customer safety should be the top concern for retailers, they cannot go slack with employee well-being. After all, it boosts your reputation and employee retention in the long haul. It is a good time to invest in training initiatives if you are genuinely interested in building a future-proof business.
Educate employees on managing crowds and handling in-store operations seamlessly. Regular health checks and daily contactless temperature monitoring are equally vital. You must also encourage them to report symptoms right away, even if it entails giving paid leaves to sick employees.
Investment in in-store technologies gives a head start
When it comes to cannabis retail growth in the post-pandemic times, you cannot overlook the role of technology. A POS system is a necessity, and so is a mobile queue management solution. Both can prevent crowding inside the store and on the payment counters. Self-servicing kiosks also make a good asset in the era of cashless and contactless payments. Just invest in these technology solutions, and you have a business all set to thrive amid the challenges and hurdles ahead.
Integrate e-commerce into the retail business
The pandemic has changed the shopping habits of consumers to a considerable extent. These changes are likely to stay around for the long haul. Integrating e-commerce into the retail business gives you an advantage as more customers move towards the online shopping trends.
Planning starts early by understanding facts like where is weed legal and what are the state-wise e-commerce guidelines. A thorough understanding of the state-specific laws and regulations can help you choose the best location for your venture. Early research can prevent trouble later and help you set up seamless retail and e-commerce operations.
Offer curbside pickup and delivery
Even as e-commerce becomes a big trend in the cannabis retail segment, smaller players have concerns regarding the financial aspects. After all, creating a website, having a support team, and managing the logistics can be expensive for a small business. You can still tap your growth potential by offering curbside pickup and delivery services to your buyers.
While these services aren’t as fancy as e-commerce experiences, they can be good enough for most consumers. Picking orders from the curbside and getting them delivered through telephonic orders eliminate the need to drop in at the dispensaries. Buyers find them quick and convenient, so there are better chances of sticking with your business.
Supply chain systems require special attention
A strong supply chain system is another must-have for cannabis retail businesses looking to thrive in 2021 and beyond. It is hard to forecast supply disruptions amid the uncertainties of the pandemic.
So, you must have a robust supplier base to ensure sufficient stock and regular replenishment. Moreover, you have to follow the legal norms related to tracking and reporting from seed to the final sale.
Managing your supply chain becomes even more crucial to keep track. Incorporating an inventory management system is equally essential as it helps you maintain a good inventory turnover, avoid wastage, and prevent shortages.
Digital customer experiences set your business apart
Finally, cannabis retailers can get a step ahead towards success by investing in digital customer experiences. The growing competition in the domain means that buyers have more choices than you imagine. Apart from the best products, they look for top-notch experiences. A seller that goes the extra mile with CX has better chances of emerging as a winner. Right now, you must build a robust presence through an attractive website and strong social media strategy. Stay connected with customers across all online platforms to build reach and visibility. Keep them updated on your location, products available, and hours of operation. Build a community and retain the customers by educating them and running attractive loyalty programs.
Despite the challenges, it faces during the pandemic¸ the cannabis retail industry is all set to grow at an unprecedented pace in the new normal. Everything boils down to being proactive enough to grab the right opportunities when they are there.
Technology can set you apart, while excellence with customer experience can bring a winning advantage for your business. Think outside the box and get creative with your marketing strategy. But ensure that you are always on the right side of the law as you operate and achieve growth down the line.
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