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Indie Retailing 101: Beat Your Competitors with Unique In-Store Experiences

Breaking News?

NY Times Features Canadian Cannabis Retail's 'Wild West'

Did you catch this article in the New York Times from April 18th? The over-saturated and hyper-competitive Cannabis retail scene in Canada, and Toronto specifically, was discussed at length. It echoes what we have been saying for years: you need to differentiate by creating a unique in-store experience for your customers to keep them coming back to your store.


Read on:


1. Make Your Interior Instagram Worthy

  • Invest in great interior design if you are about to renovating or expanding. A beautiful interior is a pleasure to visit and will build positive vibes with your customers.

  • Make it approachable. Drop head shop stigma at the door. Serra in Portland, pictured above, is more Anthropology than a Smoke Shop full of gaudy glassware and neon bongs.

  • If you are already up and running, consider dedicating an area of your store that are irresistible for social media content creation. Give your customer's the opportunity to do organic marketing on your behalf and within the regulations.


2. Empower Your Budtenders

  • As the front line of your sales staff, budtenders are the living, breathing embodiment of your brand.

  • Hire for knowledge, warmth, approachability, and a hunger to succeed.

  • Educate them on everything you carry, including what you don't and where your competitors may have gaps.

  • As an owner, be present. Our anecdotal experience and conversations always indicate engaged owners have higher performing stores.

  • Good staffing cannot be replicated by stores that lack good service and will have customers returning to your store for recommendations.


3. Unique Products and Accessories

  • Particularly problematic in Canada, Cannabis SKUs offer little differentiation. Any Cannabis SKU can or could be found at most retailers.

  • Cannabis accessories suffer from the same ubiquity. RAW or OCB papers & cones are sold by nearly every Cannabis retailer.

  • By offering your own branded lighters, papers, cones, or 510 batteries for sale, you create a unique retail offering that cannot be copied


What's the Toke Away?

  • STORE - Make your store a destination to visit and a content generator for your customers.

  • STAFF - Your budtenders are the face and voice of your brand. By doubling down on good service you will build repeat customers.

  • STUFF - Design and source your private label products to offer a retail mix that cannot be replicated elsewhere.

Interested to Learn More?

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