The Evolution of Cannabis Dispensaries

Medical cannabis and adult-use dispensaries place great emphasis on cultivating a professional, polished, and welcoming atmosphere in their shops. As thousands of new customers walk into dispensaries for the first time, dispensaries are using their spaces – and their knowledge – to create a comfortable and memorable experience to ease this new consumer base into the world of cannabis.

Changes to Architecture and Design

Cannabis dispensaries have changed inside and out over the last few years. In the early days of legalization, many medical dispensaries were designed with a cold and impersonal feel. Customers would often approach a protective glass display in a bare room, with little to no importance placed on cultivating atmosphere. This was likely done, in part, to avoid drawing attention to the dispensary in a still very uncertain industry.

With a new wave of legalization sweeping the country, dispensaries are now concentrating on the importance of branding and therefore, no longer devoid of character. Like all branding exercises, dispensaries are styled to appeal to their target clientele. Today, the dispensary itself is as much a part of the brand as the product. Some opt for a high-end, luxurious appeal, while others have embraced a sleek, modern appearance. Others aim for a rustic, country lodge look that accentuates natural elements.

It’s not just décor that’s become important. It’s also the way cannabis dispensaries display their products. Arranging products in an organized and aesthetically-pleasing way can help guide the customer through the store in a natural way. Rather than keeping products locked up and tightly controlled, displaying them beautifully––just like any other product-based business––helps customers feel welcome to browse, investigate, and ask questions.

Advances in Cannabis Education at the Point of Sale

Many dispensary managers understand the importance of good education as a selling tool and as a way of providing top-tier customer service. Customers often have questions on strain types, effects, dosing, product sourcing, how the product was grown, and so much more. The best dispensaries train their budtenders behind the counter to be able to thorough, and accurately, answer these inquiries.

Highly-knowledgeable budtenders serve as guides for customers, whether they’re experienced users or first-time buyers. Good budtenders know the ins and outs of every product in the store, and they can thoroughly explain the products to the customer. A knowledgeable budtender can even make product recommendations for the customer’s specific needs and/or desires.

Some dispensaries are incorporating software throughout their stores as well––both to educate the customer as well as clearly display the different products a store has on offer at any given time. Software solutions like PotBot help consumers determine which strain and product best suits their needs. This can be a great way to assist those first-time customers who may be too intimidated to speak with a budtender or for a veteran cannabis user to discover new products they hadn’t encountered before.

Community Outreach and Crime Reduction

It’s not uncommon to find cannabis dispensaries donating to a variety of causes or giving a set percentage of revenue to community projects. Cannabis dispensaries are often eager to prove their value as community members, precisely because the cannabis industry has been so unfairly dogged by detractors as posing a risk to the community. The opposite has turned out to be true, as cannabis dispensaries strive to prove that not only do they want to be a part of the community, they aim to be a pillar of support for it.

Moreover, the statistics show that law-abiding cannabis dispensaries do indeed improve their surrounding communities simply by existing. One study concluded that mass closures of cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles immediately resulted in an increase in crime. The reason? Dispensaries are highly-secured facilities that attract a lot of foot traffic, thereby reducing the opportunity for a criminal element to take hold. In addition, legal dispensaries deeply reduce the black market for cannabis in a surrounding area, undercutting the profits from the illicit growth and sale of cannabis.

As the point of sale for cannabis products, dispensaries have a powerful ability to normalize the industry in the eyes of customers and community members alike. Rapid changes in design and customer service experience have transformed the dispensary from an impersonal, transactional experience to a welcoming, friendly environment. The ongoing evolution of dispensaries is a prime example of how the cannabis industry continues to grow and transform to meet the demands of an ever-changing marketplace.