Committee Blog: How Can Retailers Improve the Customer Experience?
By Bethany Moore
June 5, 2023
/ Community

Committee Blog: How Can Retailers Improve the Customer Experience?

by NCIA’s Retail Committee
Contributing Authors – Ace Castillo, Brian Anderson, Tony Trinh, Pete Longo, Nicole Rivers, John Kent, Larina Scofield, and Brian Hart

In a competitive market the customer experience is one of the biggest factors in the success of a company. This begs the question as to how to improve the customer experience? In one simple word, service. But what can retailers do to provide service to the customers? After consulting several members within the NCIA retail committee, here are a few takeaways.


This applies to both the customer and the employee. While there are certainly customer-facing employees who have strong knowledge and have made a great impression on customers, a common trend is there is a lack of consistency with employee knowledge and communicating information. One can go into a retail location and ask the same question to four budtenders and get five different opinions. This is often a reflection of the lack of standardized and consistent training provided by management. There are certainly challenges regarding the high turnover of employees in the cannabis industry however management needs to find solutions to ensure every employee is trained in the same way so there is a standard of cannabis knowledge. Once that standard is in place, customer-facing employees can provide consistent and well-informed information to the customer. Examples include communicating the properties of the plant like that of the different cannabinoids and terpenes, their effects, and which cannabis products can maximize the desired effect of the customer.


Engaging customers and the community improves the overall customer experience. Often when applying for a license a retail location has a community engagement plan that looks promising but doesn’t get executed. It is understandable there are a litany of tasks needed to be performed but if a retail location wants to improve the customer experience, engage the customer and community. Host events where a retail location can get to know the customer and community and provide value in these events through education. Engage community leaders and people who have concerns about a retail location in their area. This does not mean people will change their opinions however if they feel they are being listened to and have respectful communication then the overall reputation of a business will be improved upon. A good business reputation will improve interactions with customers. Also, have retail employees engage customers, this goes back to sharing information about the plants and products.

Process Development

Evaluate and improve the customer experience. If one trains employees and engages customers, leverage these experiences to improve the process. One conversation can provide valuable insight as to how to improve service. Another conversation may provide insight as to what products customers find value in or importantly detract value. It could be that too many customers find the explanations provided by trained retail staff are too detailed or too vague. If that is the case, make the appropriate changes to improve the process. Customers will notice when changes are made for their benefit and this strengthens their desire to return to the retail location.

Data Analytics

Observe quantifiable patterns and this doesn’t need to be over complicated. What are customer flow-through rates? Is there a time of day where there is an influx of customers and could there be a correlation as to what they are buying? Is there a time of day that many customers come in for a specific item and through this observation can changes be made to make the process easier and the overall experience better? It could be that customers at a specific location prefer a specific brand or type of product and by having the right levels of inventory a retail location won’t run out of products and disappoint the customer. Conversely if there are products that are not selling and could potentially serve as an unwanted distraction to customers, it could be possible the customer experience would be improved upon by removing the product. Reviewing data about customers does not need to be intrusive and can be viewed at a high level. 

Company Values

Does a retailer have a list of values, are they authentic, and is it followed? Keeping to company values provides direction and commonality between the company and the customer. Is there a retailer that genuinely cares about kindness and is it practiced throughout the company? If the owner of the company treats a manager with kindness and the manager treats customer-facing employees with kindness, there is a greater likelihood the customer-facing employee will treat the customer with kindness. Whatever the values of the company are, they need to be announced and if practiced, customers will see it in everyday interactions and that can make the difference from good to great.

As one may notice, the aforementioned tips are not revolutionary or the first of their kind. Instead, these are ideas that can be practiced daily and make small but incremental improvements. We encourage you to try these tips out and through consistency over time, these incremental improvements will compound and improve the customer experience. 

Brian Hart is a consultant and entrepreneur in the cannabis industry and has both academic and practical experience within the cannabis industry. Having written his master thesis using a neoclassical economics model to conduct an industrial analysis of the Colorado Cannabis industry, Brian grew and sold cannabis and has consulted on the industry for several years nationally as well as internationally.

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