A Picture Is Worth $10k Sales and More: Tips for Creating Beautiful Product Photography

Few things have the power to generate more sales for your online cannabis shops, like catchy and high-quality product photography. Do you know why?

It's because, on the online business landscape, the way you present your products goes a long way in influencing shopping decisions and ultimately affects conversion rates and sales.

Thankfully, taking clear and crisp product photography is not rocket science. In fact, it is something that you could quickly achieve on your own. Yes, some professionals are in the business of creating great product photos. And, of course, their deliverables are often top-notch.

But here’s the thing. What do you do if you can’t afford the high rates that these professionals charge as you look to start or scale your online cannabis business?

The good news is that you can also create compelling product photos that can pique the interest of your website visitors and increase your conversion rates in the process.

All you need is to have the right gear and master the right techniques, all of which we will be describing in this article.

So if you are looking to create awesome product photos, you might want to read on till the end.

What You Need To Get the Right Product Photos

To create compelling product photos, you need the right tools. The best part of taking the DIY route to great product photography is that you don't have to break the bank to get the latest gear.

With that in mind, here are some of the tools you will need to produce a high-quality photo of your product:

  • A functional camera
  • A sturdy tripod
  • A white background
  • Some white bounce cards made of foam board
  • A table
  • Some tape
  • A room with some great natural light

7 Steps to Take Great Product Photos

Like we already mentioned, you can create eye-catching product photos that grab your buyers’ attention and make them connect with your business.

This section discusses the seven steps that should help you create beautiful product photos.

Work on a Strategy for the Photo Shoot

It is one thing to make up your mind to take your product photos and get the gear you need. It's another to get the images right. The difference between your decision and taking product photos that count is your strategy.

It would be best if you came up with an actual plan on how you intend to go about the photos. It would also help if you got everything right from the outset.

So have you decided on the kind of product photos you want to take? What type of lighting will work best for you? How do you set up the right background? What are the angles that you will be working with and such?

Don’t worry, we will be answering some of these questions later in the post, but it’s important to consider them before starting the photoshoot.

Pay Attention To Your Table

Your product photo will come out a lot more attractive when you cast the product in the right light. The best way to do this would be to set up the table right. You need to get the shooting area right, and it all starts with the positioning of the table.

To do this, you want to place the table right next to the window. We suggest that you put the table as close to the window as possible if you are looking to get a soft light cast on the products.

However, you want to be sure that you are not too close to the windows not to get some shadow in the photo.

You also don't want any direct sunlight because the image doesn’t turn out to be less appealing. The aim is to have soft, natural light. This is why you need to be careful about setting up the table for the photoshoot.

Whatever you do, always put off the lights in the room. And always ensure that your product labels are not cast in harsh light.

Here are a few options you might want to explore:

  • Set up in a spacious garage with the door wide open
  • Try shooting outdoors at dusk or on an overcast day
  • Try shooting indoors with several lighting sources that you position at different locations

Fine-tune Your Camera

Next is to reset your camera so that it gives you the right shots. Depending on the type of camera you will be using, some adjustments might be necessary.

The following are some tips on how to fine-tune your camera settings:

  • Set the white balance (WB) settings on the camera to "Auto."
  • Set the flash settings to "Off."
  • Set the "image" settings on the camera to the highest quality possible.

You might want to use the 'raw" setting on your camera if it has that feature. This is because it allows you to make the most of the camera's bit depth.

However, if the camera does not have a "raw" setting, then you should set it to the largest "JPG" setting available on the camera.

  • You may then set the camera’s ISO to 100. This should make you regulate the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor.

To get the most of your camera, you also need to ensure that you get the exposure settings down pat. Here are some options for you to explore when fine-tuning your camera depending on the type you are using:

Set your camera to Manual (M)

We will advise you to work with this setting because it is about the best way to get the most from your camera when taking your product photos. It would be best if you changed your f-stop to the highest number so that you can take advantage of the most depth of field available.

After that, you then preview the image on the back of the camera via "LiveView." You can then move to the shutter speed and revolve the dial bright enough for suitable image exposure.

If you are doing things right, there will be an increase in the shutter number. You want to modify the shutter number until you get a correct preview of the product's image.

Try Aperture Priority (AV)

If you use a camera with this feature, you should change the f-stop to the highest number. This modifies the shutter to a default setting in the camera. The downside of this option is that you may need to add more light using the exposure compensation dial.

Auto Exposure
If the camera you are working with has an exposure compensation dial, you will need to add +1 or +1½ to achieve the right exposure that works for your shots. A histogram on the back of the camera should help you ascertain if the exposure is right.

Here's a quick tip, the far right-hand side is white while the left is black. Depending on the situation, you want to modify the exposure until the part of the curve representing the white background touches the right edge without going over.

Here is another tip for zooming in on your product.

Don't use the camera's digital zoom feature because it automatically lowers the image's quality. Your best bet will be to use the optical zoom option feature if it's available. The trick is to zoom in as far as you can without using the digital zoom feature.

Then always ensure that the camera is held steady if you want to get the sharpest photos. This is where your tripod comes in. A sturdy tripod will keep your camera steady enough for you to take as many products as possible without any problems with the focus.

Setting a timer function to a 2-second delay might also be helpful.

4. Position Your Product Right

At this point, you should have set the table and reset the camera features to where you want them. The next step would be to position your cannabis product in such a manner that you can take a picture-perfect photo.

There are tons of cannabis products online, and since your customers do not have the opportunity to assess the products physically, the way you present them matters a lot.

This is why you need to pay attention to how well you position your product. Always make sure that the product's label is in the centre of the photo.

The idea is to make the product come to life, even if it is just an image. To achieve this effect, we suggest that you ensure that your white background is well set up. Never underestimate the ability of a white background to promote your product's photo.

Plus, a well set-up white background enables the camera's white balance to calibrate perfectly. The results of this calibration are colourful, convincing product photos that can arrest anyone's attention.

5. Take The Shot

If you have taken all the steps we described here to the letter, this is the point where you just take the shot.

We believe that you should experiment with the shots, so take multiple photos. Do you know why?

Your first shot is not likely to be the best one, so you want to take as many takes as possible. On the one hand, it gives you more options to choose from.

On the other hand, you get to provide your customers with a variety of product photos that give them a chance to see what you have been selling much better.

Here's a caveat. Taking multiple shots of your cannabis product(s) does not mean that you have to take them from the same position. We advise you to experiment with the angles. Here are some angle suggestions for you:

Bird's Eye Angle

Here, you take a photo like the product is below you.

High Angle

It is similar to the bird's eye view but might be a bit lower.

Low angle

You take this shot like you are looking up to the product.

Eye Level

You take this shot like you are on the same level as the product and looking straight at it.

Wide-angle

These are shots taken from an angle that gives you enough room on all the sides of the cannabis product.

However, you might want to explore other types of product photography besides the more popular white background style.

Here are a few other alternatives to “regular” product photography you might be interested in:

Lifestyle Shots

You might want to take this kind of shot when you want to add a story to your product photo.

Lifestyle shots work best for various online channels like blogs, social media posts, website content, and emails. They are a great option to explore because they provide context for your product photos, and they can be used to connect with potential customers.

Detailed Shots

These shots are taken to provide your customers with a better look at the specific features of your cannabis products that set them apart from other products on the market.

Group Shots

These are shots taken so that your cannabis products can be grouped. This is an excellent option if you are into bundle offerings.

6. Edit Your Photos

Once you are done taking the shots, it is time to evaluate your work. To do that right, you might want to upload your images to a computer to get a better view. It is also a great idea to install an app that allows you to manage and edit your product photos where necessary.

We believe that a bit of editing here and there will constantly improve the quality of your product photos. So after you have vetted the photos, you would arrive at some that work for you. This is the point where you go to work on them.

You have two options here, which are to either do it yourself or outsource.

You could get some professionals to retouch your product photos for you since editing pictures doesn’t cost much.

Then there is the other option of hunkering down with some editing software and doing it by yourself. There is a range of editing software, from paid software to free editing services, that you can exploit.

Should you choose to do your editing yourself, we'd like to warn you to be careful about the process. Be mindful of how much cropping you do, and you want to stick to square,regular-sized product photos. You also want to temper the brightness, contrast, and colour features just right.

Whatever you do, don't rush. Neither should you try to overdo the editing because the more you edit a product photo, the less quality it has! Plus, you never want to forget the first rule of photo editing, which is always to save a copy of the original product images! You never know when you might need them.

7. Optimize Your Product Photos For Your Website

By now, you should be aware of the significance of Search engine optimization (SEO) and how much organic traffic it can drive to your online cannabis store. So, always make sure that your product photos have excellent captions to go with them.

But here is the thing: SEO does not stop with written content. It applies to your product photos too.

The speed at which your product photos load is crucial, so you want to compress them to byte size to load faster without compromising their quality. To do this, you want to resize the height and width of your product photos.

Here is how you go about optimizing your product photos:

Determine the HTML container size

The trick is to restructure your product photos to suit the container before uploading them to your website. But you need to determine the image container size.

To do this, simply access the "Developer tools" feature on your web browser. You then right-click on the product photo before choosing "Inspect Element."If you got it right, you'd see the pixel dimension of the container.

Rework the product photo:

You could use any number of free solutions to resize product photos. Once you are done, you export them before saving them to your desktop as a jpeg at 100%.

Compress the Product Photos

After saving them at 100% quality, you will still need to work on the size of the files. So to do that, you'd need to compress the photos right, or you risk losing some of the quality.

This is one of the reasons why people opt for professional photo editors because it can get tricky here.

If you feel you are up to the task, some software uses algorithms to arrive at the best compression rates for your product photos. You might want to check them out.

Takeaways

Product photography is something of a blend of science, art, skill, and technique.

It is a must-have ability when you are looking to stay afloat in the online cannabis business landscape. Mastering product photography will go a long way in increasing your conversion rates and keeping you in business over time.

Sway provides auxiliary services for commercial cannabis stores that help your business run smoothly. Whether you need cannabis delivered to the buyer’s doorstep or want help driving traffic to your website through SEO, we are your best solution. Contact us for a quick chat.


15 Ways to Get Visitors To Your New Cannabis Dispensary Website

As of 2020, the size of the legal adult-use cannabis market in Canada was pegged at 2.6 billion Canadian Dollars. This shows how big the industry has become and why more cannabis commercial websites are popping up.

Being a cannabis website operator yourself, you need to find new ways to compete against the others in the business. And the only way to do this is to increase your website traffic.

Increasing traffic on your new cannabis website could potentially increase your sales. So if you’re just getting started and can’t quite figure out how to attract more visitors, then you’re reading the right article.

Here, I’ll be giving you 15 vital tips on drawing more traffic to your new and existing cannabis store. Let’s get in!

1. Provide the best possible quality

The benefits of cannabis consumption have already been proven, which is why more people are using its products. Unfortunately, not all cannabis products are top-notch, thanks to the lacklustre approach of some manufacturers.

If the purpose of setting up your cannabis retail website is to generate sales, then you must ensure that your products are of good quality.

The connection between offering good products and increasing website traffic is that satisfied customers will patronise you another time. Better still, they will also recommend your brand to their friends.

2. Paid social media ads

Once you get the product right, you can now be confident about telling the world about it. And what better way to do this than paid social media ads?

One of the biggest advantages of social media ads is targeting your audience according to age and location. This feature is particularly good for the commercial cannabis business, whose target audience is majorly adults.

According to statistics, Canadians between the ages of 25 and 34 had the highest rate of cannabis consumption nationally. At the same time, those from 65 years and above had the lowest consumption levels.

With this in mind, it is clear what your age demographic target should be when running your ads.

Another advantage of paid social media ads is that you can choose a plan that fits into your budget. I wouldn’t expect a start-up to have big, but a little investment can get you started and allow you to test the waters.

On average, you can get 1,000 impressions with a budget of $7.19 on Facebook ads. Now imagine if you were to invest $500!

Besides Facebook, there are other social media ads you can use to promote your cannabis website.

These include:

  • Instagram ads
  • Pinterest ads
  • Twitter ads

3. Partake in conversations on social media

Cannabis is a hot topic nowadays, and many people on social media want to know more about it. Thus, if you’re serious about increasing your site traffic and have educated yourself about the niche. I advise that you seriously consider partaking in conversations on social media groups.

Make sure each comment you post is informative and provides a few facts about cannabis and its use. Group members who come across your comments/threads will view you as an expert in the field and become more interested in you.

Since the aim here is to drive more traffic to your site, it also makes sense to add links to your website.

Here’s an example of how to do that:

Let’s say there’s an ongoing thread on Facebook about why cannabis is bad for society. You can argue in favor of its benefits ( since you’re in the business).

You could say something like this:

“I’ve been running an online cannabis store for two years, and so far, all our customers have attested to how our cannabis products have helped them sleep better, eat better, and feel better. You can visit our store (insert your website) to check out our products and read about how beneficial they are. That’ll help you change your mind about cannabis”.

If anyone on the thread comes across your comment, then they will also come across your website. And those who are interested will click!

4. Write interesting social media posts

Time and time again, posting on social media platforms has helped increase brand visibility, making it a good way to increase web traffic for your cannabis store.

Thus, ensure you always write short but interesting things about cannabis and regularly post them on your social media pages. If your posts are interesting enough, your followers will share without being asked.

Make sure that you include your website in your posts for more visibility.

It may be difficult coming up with engaging post ideas regularly, but you can draw inspiration from other sources.

Is there a new cannabis bill being proposed in your state? Have medical experts discovered another benefit of cannabis use?

You can craft short posts from headlines of this nature and use them to engage your followers.

5. Convince your friends and family to share your posts

It is one thing to write interesting posts on your social media page and another thing for people to like and share. However, being straightforward with your request is the best way to spread your posts about your cannabis website on social media.

When I say straightforward, I mean directly asking your close friends and family to share your posts instead of waiting for their free will to decide for them.

Thankfully, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have a “tag” feature, which you can use to include your loved ones in your posts. So if they don’t come across your posts on their timeline, they will receive a notification that they have been tagged.

Remember, the post should be about your cannabis business (or something closely related) and include your website link. At the bottom of the post, politely ask the viewers to share, which would help you gain more exposure.

6. Use giveaways to draw people in

Let’s face it, many people like free stuff, and you can take advantage of this to attract visitors to your website. The biggest brands in the world have used giveaways to gain more popularity and increase sales of a new product or service. In this case, you can use it to get people to visit your cannabis website.

All you have to do is figure out what you can afford to give out for free and tell people about it. A “buy three get one free” deal works all the time!

Another great example of a giveaway tactic is Delta 9’s “Joints for Jabs” promo, where a few participants were rewarded with a year’s supply of free cannabis in exchange for taking the Covid-19 vaccine.

Be creative with your giveaways, and you will notice an increase in your web traffic.

7. Offer discounts within a specific time bracket

Just like giveaways, discounts are also great at bringing more customers your way. Of course, a discount isn’t exactly like a giveaway where products are offered for free. Rather, it slashes the price of a product by a noticeable amount, which can prompt a customer to buy more.

Your discounts aren’t meant to last forever. They have to be valid within a set time, say two weeks to a month. You can use cannabis products (especially the low-selling ones) to lure more people into buying from you within this period.

8. Use influencers

Influencers are individuals who have a large following, either in the physical or digital world, who can use their influence to convince people to buy a product or service.

They usually charge a fee for this kind of service, and if you can reach out to one or more, they can get people to visit your cannabis site.

It would be great if you have an ongoing giveaway or discount when you hire an influencer, as it would give prospects more reason to visit your website.

9. Do a press release

Press releases can help you reach a wider audience outside your followers on your social media platforms.

This involves writing a detailed copy of your business and handing it over to media houses or bloggers, who will, in-turn publish or announce it on their platforms.

These media outlets will also charge you a fee for this service, but you can take advantage if you have the budget for it.

10. Add a blog to your website

Adding a blog section to your website and writing informative content regarding cannabis is a good way to gain trust among prospects and keep them coming back to your website for more.

You have to be consistent with your blog posts to retain your readers.

West Coast Cannabis is a good example of brands that use informative blog posts to engage audiences, and it has been effective in maintaining their massive traffic.

11. Produce podcasts to reach new audiences

Podcasts have become popular over the past decade, and it has been used to market all sorts of goods and services while discussing interesting topics.

All you need to produce a podcast is a few basic audio recording equipment. Just like blog posts, your podcast should discuss issues on cannabis. You also have to be consistent with it.

Make sure you mention your website at the end of each episode as a reminder.

There are many podcast-hosting platforms like Anchor, which you can use to publish your episodes.

12. Start a YouTube channel

Starting a YouTube channel is easy, as you can set it up using only your smartphone.

Your channel and all the content you upload on it should include your website to increase your chances of getting clicks.

To keep prospects coming back to your YouTube channel, release informative content on a daily or weekly basis. This level of consistency will encourage those interested in subscribing, hence become exposed to your website.

If you need some inspiration on formatting a YouTube channel for your cannabis business, check out the Canadian Cannabis channel.

13. Contribute to other YouTube channels

Search for other cannabis YouTube channels that have a good number of subscribers and offer them your input. If they find that your content is exceptional, they can allow you to contribute to their videos.

Of course, this collaboration isn’t easy to score, as successful YouTubers are wary of competition. But if they are convinced that what you are offering is highly beneficial to their audience, they will surely consider it. Your cannabis website in the description section of all the content you produce for them when they do.

The more YouTube channels you can contribute to, the greater the audience you can expose to your website.

14. Invite guest bloggers to your website

Running your cannabis blog alone is pretty good, but having guests contribute to it is much better as far as attracting new visitors is concerned.

When guests contribute to your blog, they will share the content with their audience, increasing your reach and exposing your website to more prospects.

To improve your chances, try and work with at least 5 guest bloggers. The idea is simple: The more guest bloggers you have, the more your web content will be shared, and your website will get more visibility.

15. Contribute to other cannabis blogs

Just as you have guest bloggers writing and sharing content for you, try and do the same for other blogs.

In this case, including your web link in each of your contributing posts. And if your content is good, readers will be tempted to visit your site, as they would assume there’s more where that came from.

Final Words

Even if you’re just starting your cannabis website and have no visitors, the tips provided here will set you on a path of increased traffic and more sales of your cannabis products.

These tips will not increase traffic overnight, so you have to be consistent and patient for the best results.

Sway is all about providing technology solutions for cannabis websites. Check us out here to see how we can help you run your online cannabis business effectively.


Shipping, Packing and Delivery Essentials for Online Dispensaries

If you’re reading this, you’ve made the right choice to launch an online weed dispensary. Thanks to post-pandemic protocols, online stores are fast replacing brick-and-mortar shops.

With the convenience, brand loyalty and increased profit that comes with running your weed dispensary online, it's evident that this business trend will thrive even long after we conquer the pandemic

It is important to note that online dispensaries are a different ball game from traditional shops. Here you need to invest in an excellent website, learn how to set up your store, arrange products, and master how shipping, packing, and product delivery works.

Fortunately, in this article, we will take a deep dive into the shipping, packing, and delivery essentials you need for your online dispensary. Enjoy!

1. Compliance is Key

As an online dispensary, you need to be aware of the local laws that govern the province where you are looking to operate from or cover.

For instance, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) holds a firm stance about issuing licenses that enable the delivery of cannabis. This means that you can only offer cannabis delivery services if your online dispensary has been authorised to do so.

In addition, according to AGCO stipulations, third parties cannot deliver your products to customers, so the delivery agent charged with delivering your items must be a direct employee of your outfit. They are also expected to have CanSell certification.

It is also against the law in Ontario and some other provinces to leave items like cannabis in a delivery vehicle overnight, even as the window for the delivery of items like cannabis is limited to 14days. Per AGCO stipulations, you are also expected to conduct your sale and delivery of your online dispensary products between the hours of 9 am to 11 pm daily.

You must have a set of printed terms of sale which cater to the complexities of pickups and deliveries. These terms of sale (TOS) should display your stand on issues like delivery costs and what happens after a client who pre-paid does not show up for delivery or pickup.

Understanding local laws help you steer clear of avoidable legal issues. With a good grasp of these laws, you can also incorporate them into your SOP to improve your services.

Here’s a short compliance checklist to start with:

  • Ensure that you have all the required licenses
  • Only deal in products that meet requirements
  • Source products from legitimate, licensed businesses
  • You must have a third-party testing process
  • You possess documented results from your testing process

2. Get Your Online Inventory Right

A constantly updated online inventory is a vital aspect of your online dispensary. Most online customers are fickle, and very few will not be annoyed at a situation where they place an order online but can’t get it because it is out of stock.

Such situations are about the best ways to lose any trust or loyalty you have built with your customers, and you stand the chance of losing your customers to other online dispensaries with more stocks.

You can avoid situations like this by ensuring that your in-store point-of-sale software has an open API that can be integrated into any of the leading e-commerce platforms.

Getting an online menu on such platforms allows you to embed that menu into your online dispensary by simply adding a line of code.

Incorporating your point-of-sale system with an online menu already embedded in your site puts you in a position where you only sell products you have in stock.

The trick is that you must make the online menu one that is easy to find. Try making it a banner on your site if you don’t want to embed it as a link on your main site navigation.

Your online menu must comprise:

  • Category organisation
  • Lab result
  • Product descriptions
  • Reviews

Getting a real-time, online menu that is easy to find lets old, new and prospective customers quickly scan through the products you stock on your online dispensary. For example, Haute Health, a Vancouver-based MOM dispensary, offers a great online menu with products sorted based on their type.

3. Get SOPs That Works

SOP is short for standard operating procedures, and it is a critical aspect of how you handle your online orders. With the proper SOP, you get to homogenise your online dispensary’s order fulfilment process, fashion-out consistency for staff and customers. It also helps improve efficiency and sustain compliance.

  • Roles: who fulfils online orders?
  • Timing: when are your online orders fulfilled?
  • Tools: what tools should be used to fulfil online orders?
  • Procedures: What are the steps to be taken when fulfilling online orders?

4. Set Up the Right Payment Options

There is something of a snag with regular payment options for online dispensaries that deal with cannabis and other items on the law’s grey side.

Banking regulations make things difficult or near impossible, and credit card companies refuse to provide merchant services.

This is because most of these companies and financial institutions do not consider cannabis a legal product to order online.

In addition, according to specific regulations in Canada, all payments must be completed online or over the phone before delivery.

So, one way around this issue is for your customers to buy a prepaid credit card. This enables them to place an order via phone or the internet easily.

Here are some payment options that might work for you:

  • Cash: Let your customer know that you accept cash payments upon delivery
  • Debit cards: You could set up a payment option that lets your clients pay online via debit card. You could also facilitate payments via debit at the time of delivery.
  • Cryptocurrencies: Owing to the privacy and convenience that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin offer, they are fast becoming the payment method of choice. There is zero involvement with banks, and the purchases are secure. You might want to look into this payment method.

5. Keep Your Communication Channels Clear

Clear communication is critical when running an online dispensary because it keeps your clients better informed about the status of their orders.

Thus, ensure that you always have clear communication channels that keep your customers in the loop about your operations.

For example, your online orders may not be incorporated with your loyalty programs. So it is always a great idea to let your customers be clear about the total and estimated costs that they may have to pay for at the time of delivery.

A great way to do this is via SMS or text updates that keep your customers informed on the go.

Shipping Products For Your Online Dispensaries

It is illegal to ship cannabis outside of Canada since it is designated a Schedule I substance in Canada. But most recently, the shipping of such items has been boosted with Health Canada’s addition of cannabis extracts, cannabis topicals, and edible cannabis to The Cannabis Act.

So logistic companies can now ship these products as long as they comply with Health Canada’s strict regulations on the delivery of cannabis. Thus, Canadians can now order cannabis products online and have them shipped directly to them.

That said, abiding by shipping carrier requirements is one thing. Ascertaining the legality of shipping such products from their place of origin to their destination is another. Your shipment of cannabis and cannabis-related products must all times comply with federal, provincial and municipal regulations.

Once your brand is compliant, then you should have no issues shipping your products to legal locations.

Here are some tips you should have at the back of your mind when you are looking to ship your products within Canada:

1. Get a Legal Team

Hire and consult with a legal team before shipping your products. They will have insights that can help you avoid legal issues.

2. Ascertain the Legitimacy of Your Suppliers

Always run checks on your suppliers to ascertain that they do not violate any shipping regulations.

You can ship your cannabis to and fro most provinces in Canada except Manitoba and Quebec, which prohibit marijuana plants and seeds.

For other provinces, however, you can ship up to four plants per household. You can also ship up to 30 times a client’s daily prescription for medical cannabis and up to 30 grams of recreational cannabis to customers across provinces in Canada.

Proof of age (at least 25 years) is a requirement that must be met before cannabis products can be delivered to clients. An adult signature is also required. Mailing cannabis products in Canada is also prohibited.

Packaging Requirements

Packing is a vital aspect of every successful online dispensary. That is why you must adhere to the packaging requirements that are unwritten laws in the industry.

Always ensure that you use odour-proof, tamper-proof and leak-proof inner and outer packaging that is as anonymous as possible.

That's not to say that the product must be blandly packaged, though. Find a nice balance between luxury and simplicity.
Some of the best materials for packaging weed products are:

Envelopes: These are great options for products encased in plastic material or are on the small side. It is a sturdy and very cheap option.

Boxes: Boxes are great for more oversized products, especially where liquids are involved. The reason is that they can quickly be reinforced with padding materials like packing peanuts, bubble wraps and foam packaging to ensure that the products being packaged remain in good condition for as long as possible.

Before opting for the packaging option, it is great to factor in the climate while shipping the products.

Some products handle heat better than others, so you want to minimise the risk of damage when shipping some of your products
Health Canada has stipulated specific packaging and labelling requirements. To stay on the good side of the law, comply with the following requirements:

  • Your products must have child-proof packaging
  • Your products must have an excise stamp attached to the packaging as evidence that you paid the stipulated duties to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The excise stamp can also double as a security seal
  • You must apply a security seal to the product
  • Your shipment packaging should be as anonymous as possible

Substandard product packaging might be held back, so to avoid any complications that might occur, you want to stick to the packaging requirements described above. Some of the best delivery providers offer recommendations that help you comply with the shipping regulations for your products.

Stick with Platforms Built for Cannabis eCommerce

This is arguably one of the best ways to manage an online dispensary that deals in cannabis products. These platforms are often tailored to the industry, offering freeware that is easily incorporated into your existing website.

This way, your customers can easily place their orders with you, and you get to provide delivery options. The trick is to stick with a platform that is 100% compatible with your online dispensary’s needs.

A great way to go is to opt for a one-stop shop like Sway that allows you to create your in-house delivery service within a day without having to worry about technicalities.

Ensure that the platform you opt for has affordable pricing that comprises hardware and software solutions and real-time inventory management that syncs data across your devices.

Takeaway

Running an online dispensary could be very tasking. But guess what? You don’t have to do it all by yourself!

You could easily offer your customers a first-class dispensary experience with the help of sway. We are a leading technology solution in the cannabis delivery space.

At the core of our services is providing lightning-fast deliveries, customer satisfaction and ultimately help you get the most from your business.

This guide section is a goldmine of information to help your brand stand out in this competitive niche.

However, you can get in touch with us if you need further help running your online weed dispensary.


Tips To Provide an Insanely Good Customer Service as an Online Dispensary

The key to a successful business is to treat the customers right, as, without them, there is no business. Do you plan to own a successful online dispensary business? Then you need to provide insanely good customer service.

If you're aware of that and desire to discover how to do so, then this article is for you.

Why provide excellent customer service?

The core of a successful online dispensary business is the customers' satisfaction. Providing outstanding, trustworthy and satisfactory customer services is the best way to attain it.

An online dispensary business is focused on people virtually, meaning no physical contact and all communications are virtual. It is an excellent advantage for both the seller and the buyers; however, it can be challenging to achieve if it's not done strategically.

With an online dispensary business, you have a wider audience reach than a limited and localized one associated with a physical store. Customers request your products and services through different technologies, devices and digital platforms.

The key to insanely good customer service is cultivating a strong relationship with your customers and keeping them satisfied with your services.

How to provide an insanely good customer service

85% of customers' withdrawal from a brand's services due to poor service is preventable. It means that if good customer service has been provided, there would be no loss of customers in the first place. Then, it shows that good customer service is a way and nothing more. The following points are ways to provide satisfactory customer service:

1. Smooth ordering process and swift product delivery

Everyone loves a swift order placement and delivery, especially one whose process comes with no hitches. At the same time, people always commend brands whose order placement and delivery are apt and stress-free.

In return, customers will go back to order more products and even recommend them to those in need of such services. They also talk about such brands; hence, aiding marketing and customer acquisition for the brand.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how to position your dispensary such that customers can order your products without hassle. Well, that starts with investing in a good website.

It is best to build an online dispensary that will stand out by providing easy navigation and aiding swift delivery.

Your website must be mobile-friendly as statistics show that over three billion people use smartphones, and it's bound to increase in the future.

The smartphone is one of the primarily used devices for accessing online stores. Hence, your website must have mobile optimisation to reach a broader audience.

Also, the order placement must be as swift and stress-free on a mobile device as it is on other devices such as tablets, iOS devices and computers. When your customers can get what they want quickly and promptly, it guarantees the trust and loyalty necessary for a successful online dispensary business.

2. Try not to run out of stock.

One of the problems online businesses face that leads to poor customer service is unavailability and inaccessibility.

When customers check out an online dispensary business, they do so for their products and services. However, when they cannot reach out to representatives of the brand on the first contact, they can't get the product and services the business is supposed to provide. It becomes an instant turn-off.

Good customer service starts from the customer being able to access the online store without any delay. The customers should be attended to as soon as possible when they request for the attention of the store's representative.

In contrast to physical stores where the customers contact the store sales representative, online stores deal with virtual communications. Phones, emails, social media platforms are the ways customers access online stores.

The flexibility of the online dispensary business allows clients to reach out at any time instead of the limitations of physical stores. Hence, your online dispensary store must be accessible throughout business hours.

You must provide accessible contact information and alternatives in case of unavailability. It is also essential you update changes in contact information when such changes occur.

Here are ways to enhance the accessibility of your products and services:

  • A well-built website is the best way to enhance your accessibility. With a quality and functional website, your products and services are displayed for customers to know what and what-not is accessible. If the website is well-structured, clients can navigate easily and access your products and services.
  • Place your contact information in prominent places so that customers can easily reach out to you. With a professional and good website, your contact information can be placed where it is easily accessible.
  • Use multiple contact information such as telephone, live chats, emails and social media platforms, so customers have various options for contacting you.
  • Promote yourself on social media networks that aid online dispensaries in marketing like Massroots and Weldable. These are online communities where potential clients that need medicinal and recreational weed gather. People can access your website efficiently if you promote it in such places.

Here are ways to enhance the availability of your products and services:

  • Ensure the vendors you patronize for your weed stock are reputable with a satisfactory track record. It helps you keep your inventory in stock so that clients can get the products and services they require quickly.
  • Ensure your contact information area is viable; that is, when customers call on the phone, they get a response. If they chat via a live chat, they get a response within a few minutes. For emails, they should get a response within 24-48 hours. It helps to keep communication alive and prevent customers from leaving due to delays.
  • For social media platforms, it may be pretty tricky to keep up with contacts from potential customers. However, with customer service helpdesks like Freshdesk and Groove, you can integrate social media DMs and comments into your dashboard. Your customer service team can attend to them on your dashboard without going through your social media profiles.
  • Ensure your customer service team members are available during business hours and attend to customers as soon as possible.

The highlight of being accessible and available is to give clients what they want as fast as possible so they don't go elsewhere. There is always a reason for a client to reach out to your online dispensary. If you want them to stay, then ensure they get what they want promptly and satisfactorily.

One way to ensure that clients don't waste their time is to publish out-of-stock products or services at the moment on your website. It will prevent them from wasting time.

3. Always engage your customers

The foundation of good customer service is cheerful and influential customer engagement. The rapport between your online dispensary representatives and your customers will determine the success of your business.

Customers will pay for a good rapport and experience as they are always thirsty for knowledge and information regarding what they require. When customers experience good engagement, they usually spread the word to those who need such products and services.

Engaging clients involves building a good rapport, responding to calls and messages, acknowledging suggestions and resolving complaints.

Doing these helps to create a seller-buyer trust that translates to continuous patronage and good reviews. In short, the right customers' engagements are the bedrock of a successful online dispensary business.

Here are ways to provide and enhance the right customers’ engagements:

  • Ensure your customer service team members are well trained to attend politely and helpful to clients. It highlights good customer service; hence, all hands must be on deck that nothing puts a dent in it. The customer service team needs to learn the art of good customer rapport and engagement.
  • The customer service team is responsible for attending to customers; hence, the duty to build a good rapport lies with them. The members of the team must be friendly, approachable, yet professional. They must know how to address clients by their first name or whatever name they provide for identification.
  • No rudeness, bossiness or humiliation should come from the team members to the clients. If it's the clients portraying rudeness, bossiness or humiliation, the team members should politely put an end to it. It is the reason they need to learn communication skills.
  • The team members should be knowledgeable about the online dispensary to answer questions clients may have accurately. You should also create a system whereby they can access answers to questions they may not know.
  • The team members should know how to fix problems or complaints from clients on their own. It is also vital to know how to de-escalate issues, especially those of anger or disappointment of clients. However, they must know the boundaries of what they can do or say and what-not.
  • The team members should know how to communicate effectively through intentional and active listening and know-how to solicit the correct information from clients for effective transactions. Respond to DMs and messages promptly and always respond to them, even if it is just greetings.
  • You can enhance customers' engagements via the education of clients through blog posts, email notifications, video and audio content about your products and services or things related to them. You can set up surveys, ask questions or seek customer reviews to further engagements.

4. Educate customers on how to order products and hire your service

One of the reasons clients abandon a particular brand for another is because they cannot purchase certain products or hire specific services due to a lack of know-how. Even with an easy-to-navigate website, some people still find it difficult to place orders or fill out the necessary process for a successful business.

The customer service team has to help such persons to get through the purchasing or hiring processes. There should be adequate follow-up so those who have no idea who to approach when they encounter an issue can respond and reach out to the customer service team.

There should be an order confirmation email or SMS to confirm orders and reassure the customers of the successful transaction. This email must show appreciation and FAQs to educate the clients. You may also add information about other products briefly and links to purchase them as a marketing strategy.

A product education mail containing information about the use of the product and contacts in case of questions and concerns is also required. With a customer review request, you can close the process of purchasing or hiring with the clients.

When clients are assisted in their quest of purchasing products or hiring services from your online dispensary business, it boosts good customer services.

Final thoughts

With the tips above, you can provide an experiential service to customers that visit your online dispensary business.

However, despite your efforts you may still be getting lots of queries from customers. If this goes on and on, you might lose some of your customers to competition.

Sway provides technology solutions for weed dispensaries. They assist you in everything, from setting up your an excellent website to shipping products for prompt and satisfactory home delivery.


6 Point Checklist To Launch A Successful Online Dispensary

If you're planning to start an online dispensary with hopes of being as successful as some of Canada's biggest brands, then you're reading the right article!

Thanks to the legalization of Cannabis in Canada for recreational and medicinal purposes and e-commerce, online purchases have reached an all-time high.

This means there is no better time to go into the business than now!

It is estimated that around 147 million people all over the globe consume cannabis, which is about 2.5% of the world's population!

With an expected rise in the numbers of cannabis consumers over the next few years, setting up your online dispensary and positioning yourself for the boom is the right step to take.

With that in mind, we have put together a 6 point checklist that you can use to launch a successful online dispensary!

Steps To Start Your Online Dispensary

Here's what you need to do for your online dispensary not only to stay afloat but compete with other successful stores and thrive!

Step 1: Know Your Products

The first step to success in the online dispensary business is knowing the Cannabis products, their various uses, and understanding their side effects and their legality regarding retail and shipping.

With this information, your online dispensary can offer consumers the best quality products that fall within the legal bracket.

Let us take a look at some standard legal cannabis products for you to consider.

Cannabis Buds/flowers: Flowers are the most common form of Cannabis, as they are popularly smoked via a pipe or rolled into a joint.

Pre-rolls and loose flowers are in-demand forms of Cannabis flowers, so you should consider adding them to your online dispensary inventory.

Dried cannabis: Another Cannabis product that is widely consumed is dried Cannabis flowers. It is popular in the market, and it will most likely remain a consumer favourite for a long time.

This is because dried Cannabis flowers go easy on the throat and lungs when smoked, unlike Cannabis flowers that aren't entirely pure.

Cannabis capsules & soft gels: One of the most common ways CBD is consumed is via soft gels and capsules.

These help with pain relief, sleep regulation, treatment of seizures, inflammation, and more, which is why it sells pretty fast.

Cannabis topicals & skincare: Cannabis has grown famous for many reasons: the benefits it offers the skin.

Cannabidiol boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be used to treat skin problems such as dryness, inflammation, and free radical damage.

It is hard to find a successful online dispensary store with a wide range of Cannabis topicals in its inventory.

Cannabis oil & vaporizers: Another popular Cannabis product you will find in the most successful online dispensaries is oils and vaporizers. With this in mind, it would be wise to stock up your dispensary with these products.

You may be wondering why these oils and vapes are so in demand.

Well, Cannabis oil is used extensively for pain relief. But that's not all, as it can also be used to treat anxiety, inflammation, depression, and epilepsy.

On the other hand, Vapes are an easy and effective way to inhale Cannabis and its highly beneficial oils.

You'd be doing your online dispensary great disfavour if you don't stock up on these products.

Hemp-derived CBD products: Hemp-derived CBD products are obtained from industrial hemp plants, and they are specially grown for their seeds and fibre.

The Cannabis products in this range are among the most widely consumed globally, so be sure to invest in them as you set up your online dispensary.

Knowing the in-demand Cannabis products and always having them readily available for your customers is vital to success in the online dispensary business.

To keep your online dispensary one step ahead, you can take advantage of Sway's home delivery solutions to help you manage the process of selling and getting your goods to your customers.

With the right inventory management solution as well as home delivery, you will track your inventory levels, orders, sales, and deliveries with ease. If you manufacture the CBD products in your dispensary, it can also help you create a work order, a bill of materials, and other vital documents related to production.

Step 2: Choose A Business Name and Domain Name

After choosing the products you want to stock in your inventory, the next best step is to choose a name for your business. The name should be unique, catchy, and easily relatable.

Top weed dispensaries answer names as simple as Green Society and Weedsmart to Herb Approach and Speed Green. So, it doesn't have to be complex either.

Just ensure that you do a corporate search for the name you want to choose to ensure that another vendor has not already taken it.

Once you get a business name, waste no time getting it registered with the appropriate authorities like Corporations Canada.

At this point, it's safe to start thinking of creating a website for your business. We will delve into that very soon. But let's mention that at the core of website design is choosing a domain name.

It's in your best interest to pick a domain name that goes with your business name. So, let's say that you decide to go for a business name like Green 4 All, then your domain name could be something like Green4all.ca.

Step3: Build A Professional-looking Website

Now that you have chosen a business name, domain name and completed the necessary paperwork, you will need to set up your online store, as this is where your customers will come looking for your Cannabis products.

Your online dispensary store can be housed on your website, which must appear professional and trustworthy in the eyes of potential customers.

We don't assume you're an experienced web designer, so you will need a professional to create your site. But if you are, then go ahead and build your website yourself. Just make sure it is simple and awesome!

There are many website creator tools and e-commerce which you can use to set up your site/store. And if you lack ideas, you can get some inspiration from the stores of already-established online dispensaries.

A great example is Amuse, take a look and see for yourself how professional and attractive their online dispensary looks. Your online dispensary must give off an aura of trust and quality before a prospect will be convinced to buy from you.

However, remember it's Cannabis we're talking about here, not shoes and handbags! Therefore, ensure the details on your website/online store are visible to improve the visitor experience. The site should also be easy to navigate.

Speaking of visitor experience, you will need to add very bright and crisp pictures of your products in your online dispensary store.

Remember what they say – "A picture can speak a thousand words," and these are words you would want your potential customers to hear!

If you need some inspiration on using product images to add spice to your store and improve your chances of selling, then an online dispensary you should check out is Haute Health's website.

See how clear and attractive the pictures of their Cannabis products are? Can you also see how each image has clear strain information below it? Be inspired to do the same for yours!

Step 4: Don't Forget Online Age Verification

As you venture into the world of online Cannabis retail, you have to bear in mind that Cannabis products aren't meant to be consumed by everyone. And by everyone, I mean minors!

In Canada, it is illegal to sell Cannabis to individuals below the age of 18. According to the Canada Federal Cannabis Act, only Canadians aged 18 years and above can buy and use Cannabis.

In the same light, online dispensaries will be breaking the law if they are caught selling Cannabis products to individuals below the legal age. And it is safe to say that if one is caught, the business will be at risk of being shut down.

As you may have already guessed, this defeats the entire purpose of launching and running a successful online dispensary store. So how do you ensure you are selling your Cannabis products to only those of legal age? Try using Age Verification Software (AVS).

Integrating this solution into your website will ensure that your dispensary complies with the age rules of selling Cannabis.

Age verification software is designed to confirm the age of any person who visits your store to make a purchase. It works by collecting all publicly available data, analyzing it, and matching it with the customer who is attempting to buy adult-only goods from your store.

One of the best age verification software you can try in 2021 is AgeChecked, as it is easy to use, fast, and accurate.

Do not omit this step if you want to run a successful online dispensary store, as selling to underage persons can land you in legal trouble and run you out of business.

Step 5: Choose A Reputable Vendor and Stock Your Inventory

As the government relaxes the laws on cannabis usage in many countries, there has been a boom in the number of online weed dispensaries.

Unfortunately, many of these weed stores, even the much-acclaimed bigger brands, offer products below par. That's why you need to be very careful about the vendor you order your products from.

Usually, it would be best to go for trusted, well-vetted and industry-leading brands that offer quality products and at a fair price. Ensure that the vendor doesn't charge expensive shipping fees too.

Once you find the right vendors, then proceed to order some products. Your inventory should contain trendy products. Also, factor in the fact that you may need to store the product pending the time you get orders.

Depending on the business size, some of the best places to store cannabis products as a vendor that is just starting are your garage, pantry, or warehouse. Ideally, weeds are best kept in an airtight, dark room with moderate temperature.

Step 6: Start Marketing Your Business

The fourth and final item on this online dispensary success checklist is to market your business. There are many ways to promote your weed store.

This includes traditional methods like word-of-mouth advertisement to people within and outside your social circle. However, since you're not only looking to target users in your immediate community, online promotion would be the best.

Some of the cost-effective yet efficient ways to attract customers to your online weed store include promotion in large social media groups that your audience frequents, starting a blog, and via affiliate programs. Blogs are especially recommended. Why?

It helps educate your site visitors about Cannabis products, how to use them, and their various benefits. By doing this regularly, your site visitors will begin to trust you more as an authority figure in the Cannabis market.

With trust comes purchases, and with purchases come growth and expansion for your online dispensary store.
An extra tip is to link Cannabis products from CBD affiliate programs in your blog posts and start earning commissions from them.

It's a two-in-one win – You earn trust/purchases from your readers and commissions from your affiliates simultaneously!

If you want to go all out in your marketing, you can invest in local SEO and paid ads.

Final Thought

Following the tips mentioned above could increase your chance of succeeding in a fast-growing and competitive Cannabis market.

However, we understand that you may still experience some challenges launching your online dispensary. Or maybe you've even tried to start one and not getting enough sales. Stress no more.

Sway provides home delivery technology solutions for weed dispensaries. They help you every step of the way, from setting up your website, stocking to shipping products to the consumers' home addresses.