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5 Ways Cannabis Retailers Can Differentiate Themselves

The market is cluttered and competitive. Here's how to stand out from the pack.

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As cannabis gains legal status across more and more of North America, retailers should expect increasingly saturated markets. Staying competitive is essential.

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Here are five, very doable ways cannabis retailers can differentiate themselves in a crowded market,

1. Champion accessibility

Weed might be legal where you live but access for all is hardly equal.

It’s not just the lack of federal legalization. Even in Canada, where cannabis enjoys legal status nationwide, there are barriers to would-be consumers. Many provinces prohibit private retailers from offering delivery services, licensed consumption spaces remain outlawed, and the divide between medical and recreational markets has created a two-tier system.

Retailers can join the good fight (and simultaneously raise brand awareness) by campaigning or raising funds for organizations like NORML, engaging in letter-writing campaigns to regulators, tailoring their spaces for those who are mobility impaired, and even simply taking cash payments.

Related: How To Stay Atop In A Crowded Retail Market

2. Cultivate connoisseurs

Whether your clientele considers themselves to be “chronic” users or are wading into weed for the first time, retailers have a responsibility to help them become informed consumers.

Well-trained budtenders should be well-versed and knowledgeable in the physical traits of dried flower, its potency, what terpenes to look out for, the potential or reported effects of cannabis strains. and products sold in store.

Teaching consumers about how to assess their cannabis experiences is the best way to guide them to positive outcomes, establish benchmarks for individual dosing, nurture personal preferences, and perceived value.

Cannabis may be unique to other industries in many ways, but one thing remains common: customer service is king. Service your customers the best you can—and they’ll come back.

3. Curate your inventory

Now that you’re teaching your customers how to identify good bud, stop carrying bad bud. Don't skimp. As the market matures and more options become available, stock your shelves with the best products you can get your hands on.

This is also your chance to support sustainable businesses, local growers, and craftspeople. Take advantage of the ever-growing potpourri of products on the market and highlight the best cannabis products and accessories produced by people in your community.

Related: The Keys to Cannabis Retail in an Internet-Driven World

4. Invest in your staff and your community

Budtenders are the new bartenders. Treat them right and train them well and you’ll build lasting relationships with your customers.

Educate and empower your staff to go on a journey along with your customers. Encourage repeat cannabis buyers to keep a cannabis journal to make informed recommendations based on their personal experiences.

Better yet, give back.

Hold a charitable food drive, start a cannabis packaging recycling program, or pick-up trash in a park. Being active and visible in your efforts to improve your community will earn the kind of trust (and maybe even a little media) that money can’t buy.

5. Listen to your customers

Spend time on the sales floor and pay attention to what kinds of questions your customers are asking, what kind of products they’re looking for, and what price points they’re attracted to.

Adjust your ordering and operations accordingly, highlight the hidden gems when merchandising, and make sure comparable options are available in case the most popular products sell out.

Related: 5 Ways to Create a Better Cannabis Customer Experience