Online Sales Vs In-Store Sales For Cannabis

Image for online shopping

The cannabis industry has exploded out of the gate and is now found nearly everywhere. While businesses are still competing for territory and to get their footing with the right audience, many are having some difficulty in determining what direction to focus their business towards, online or in-store sales. Because of possible labor and product shortages, some businesses are not able to accommodate both options. 

While choosing between the two is not ideal, it’s understandable that some businesses would have to have a preference. For example, if you’ve already invested in a store in a popular area, you cannot just throw away that to switch to online sales. If you’ve already invested into a website and online company, adding a storefront may not be the best option right now, until you get your online business going. 


Making & Keeping In-Store Sales Strong 

If your business is focusing on getting customers in the building, you need to understand what the consumer is looking for that would provide them the motivation to visit you. Most customers are not just going to stop by a dispensary to see what’s in there unless they have an interest in the products. If you have a store that people can visit, try getting them in the door with: 

  • In-store only promotions: Imagine being a customer and having a favorite product that is provided by a local dispensary. If I commit $200 a month to that product and I see an email telling me that the dispensary is having a promotion this week, where I can get the same amount of products that I normally buy, but I could save $50 this week if I buy them in-store, that’s going to make me want to go visit that location. 
  • Free consultations: One thing dispensaries forget is that a lot of people come to them because they do not understand the products and the options that are available. They need guidance and information and if your dispensary offers free consultations where it will walk someone through as much as possible, you’re going to get interest. Print out whatever you can that someone can use as a guide and offer them as much help as you can because that’s going to keep them coming back to your store. 
  • Bulk ordering: Again, consumers in this industry have an idea of what they like and what they need per month. If you give them incentive to buy in bulk, you can move a lot more of your products and increase your sales numbers in a short period of time. 
  • Order ahead: Because many of your consumers will know what they want, they will wait for you to have a promotion so they can buy and save. Ordering ahead is a convenience for them because it saves them time when they visit your dispensary. You actually are fine with them spending little time in the dispensary, as long as they visit it and spend money there. Ordering ahead allows them to do that and the easier the process is, the more the consumer will utilize it. 
  • Quick replacement of electronics: One primary service you can provide consumers is a fast replacement if a product is not working. Sometimes electronics breakdown and simply are no longer usable. If that’s the case and the customer does not want to wait for something to be delivered or arrive by mail, the option to visit your store immediately becomes more appealing. Address this need and you will see more in-store visits. 
  • Daily deals & contests: Depending on how much foot traffic you can handle each day, having in-store contests and deals each day, especially on your busier days, is a way to get people in and also keep them there longer. While the experienced buyer can order online, come in your store, pick everything up, pay and leave within minutes, you actually want the less experienced consumer in your store longer. This is where consultations and giveaways are a useful option because the longer they are there, the more they will learn and the more they learn, the better prepared they will be to buy. 
  • Appointments: If your store does tend to get busy, especially on weekends, an appointment system will be well appreciated. You want people to be happy when they are in your store and people usually aren’t happy if they have to stand or sit around and wait to be helped. 
  • Upfront information: Does your website provide the information a new consumer will need? For example, what type of information and identification is needed if they want to be able to purchase products from your store? How will they be able to pay for the products at your store? Are there specific hours of operation and is there a wait time that they need to be aware of? These are all things people will want to know before visiting and if you do not inform them upfront, it could be an issue. 


You want the customer to enjoy their experience shopping with you. That’s what’s going to make it easier for them to come back. The minute ordering online becomes more convenient, that consumer is less likely to return to your store. If you are not offering the online convenience, you may lose them to a competitor, especially if shopping from your dispensary becomes too much of a challenge for them. 


When Adding Online Shopping Makes Sense 

If you have invested in a local dispensary, it’s important that you dedicate your marketing efforts to building the customer base that will utilize the store first, the internet options second. Yes, you still need a website, social media, email marketing and an online presence in order to meet the demands of your customers. However, there’s no reason why the store cannot be the primary focus of your advertising and business efforts. 

Online marketing resources are meant to drive more traffic to your business, whether it’s online or in person. However, by utilizing the strategy to accommodate consumers on both ends, you can grow your company once one side is established. For businesses, selecting which side to establish first usually comes down to where they’ve invested the bulk of their efforts on and what is the most cost-effective course to take. 

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