The pandemic changed the way the world does business. Before March 2020, medical cannabis patients would have no issue with waiting in a long line or browsing in your dispensary for an hour. Now curbside pick-up, using websites like Leafly, Weedmaps, and I Heart Jane to browse menus, and “order online, pick up in-store” is the new norm. Dispensaries and MSOs that never even thought about having a website before now understand the value of digital marketing, social media, and SEO.
If your dispensary’s website is attracting visitors but is struggling to turn those visitors into paying (or, in the case of cannabis dispensaries, visiting!) customers, you’re not alone. The struggle is real -- this is new for everyone and we’re all in this together. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do now to help increase your dispensary’s e-commerce conversion rate later.
Note: “conversions” mean different things to different companies, depending on the industry and business model. Since cannabis dispensaries can’t accept payment online, a “conversion” in this article is someone who completes a curbside pick-up order online.
Data is everywhere, so you may as well use it to your advantage. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help you analyze your website’s data -- what pages users are visiting, how long they are spending on the page, which keywords are bringing them to your site -- so you can make informed decisions. For example, if you notice 1,000 people visit your Menu page each month, but nobody is putting in an order, you may want to submit a test to see if the form on the page is working.
Just make sure that you are accessing, collecting, and using your customer’s data ethically and are conforming with all data privacy laws in your area. Data is sensitive and should be treated as such.
In 2018, Google started publicly marking sites without a secure connection (HTTPS) as insecure. Before this update, this security requirement only applied to sites that handled personal user information, such as financial or reservation websites, but now every single site needs to be secure. To put it simply, if Google doesn’t trust your site, your patients won’t either. Not only does an insecure site create a poor user experience, but it can also negatively impact your SEO and keyword rankings.
Fortunately, adding an SSL certificate to your website isn’t hard. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown.
Optimize for mobile
According to experts, mobile commerce will drive 50% of e-commerce sales in 2022. Certain demographics (like young adults, who are also the top consumers of cannabis) use their phones to shop more than others. On top of that, in March 2021, Google’s algorithms started prioritizing mobile sites over desktop sites, regardless of where your traffic comes from. Needless to say, your cannabis dispensary’s website absolutely needs to be optimized for mobile devices.
This is where a trusted SEO agency or developer can really help; they can make your website user-friendly for all platforms and can even optimize your pop-ups for mobile, too.
Implement live chat
Live chat is an e-commerce tool that only sounds complicated in theory. Once you add it to your dispensary’s website and start using it you’ll wonder why it took you so long to try it out. Sometimes a patient wants to put in a curbside pick-up order but has a few questions. If they were visiting your dispensary in-person they’d be able to ask a budtender, but what if they’re putting in an order online? Well, with a live chat feature, someone from your team can answer their questions in real-time.
It’s an effortless, non-intrusive way to connect with your patients one-on-one…virtually. You can even consider using a chatbot for a truly hands-off approach to live chatting.
Make your check out process simple
Last but not least, make it as simple as possible for your patients to “check out” (or in this case, submit an order for curbside pick-up.) This can be done by reducing the number of form fields they have to fill out, removing pop-ups once they get to a certain point in the process, and actually testing out the check out process as if you were a user. Though it doesn’t really count as simplifying the check out process, you may want to consider adding a progress bar within your check out page. This just gives people a sense of where they’re at in the process and they’ll appreciate the transparency.