Member Blog: How to Launch a Marijuana Gift Card Program for Your Dispensary
By Bethany Moore
January 11, 2021
/ Education

Member Blog: How to Launch a Marijuana Gift Card Program for Your Dispensary

by Gary Cohen, CEO of Cova Software

Gift cards are an excellent way to increase brand awareness and an opportunity to generate new customers for your dispensary. Research shows that these tiny pieces of plastic can boost revenue by up to 40%. They are indeed invaluable tools for upselling as well, as 75% of recipients tend to overspend on the value stored in their cards. Starting a gift card program requires minimal investment and is a proven tool to stimulate bottom-line revenues and enhance the customer experience.

Benefits of Gift Cards

A well-oiled gift card program has the potential to bring at least two customers into your store — the buyer and the receiver. A study by First Data showed that 11% of gift card receivers noted they had never or rarely visited the merchant location before receiving the gift card, and over a third became regular customers after redeeming the card. Also, if your loyalty program offers gift cards as an incentive, a customer will be encouraged to spend more money when receiving points redeemable for a gift card in the future. These cards don’t just boost your retail profits but also serve as tiny billboards for your brand.  

Following are five important points to consider when launching a gift card program for your cannabis retail store:

#1. Choose and Configure the Best Solution

Choosing a gift card program that integrates seamlessly with your existing POS system is the most reliable solution. If your POS does not offer any gift card functionality, consider an upgrade to a more modern cloud-based cannabis POS system. You may also opt for standalone third-party gift cards that can be sold through your POS as SKUs, but this solution is not recommended as there is a risk of data slipping through the cracks. 

#2. Create a Gift Card Strategy

Developing a gift card strategy is a crucial step in designing your program. Is your gift card-program meant to cover your bases across major holidays and slower seasons? Or is it supposed to be an all-encompassing component to your loyalty program and upsells? It is necessary to plan and design a program to meet your requirements and customer needs for gift card sales and redemptions at your cannabis dispensary. Also, choosing customizable branded gift cards will allow you to have total control over the look, logo, and design.

#3. Stay Compliant with Regulations

Cannabis is a highly regulated industry, and retail gift cards must fall in line with specific marketing and advertising restrictions. However, with an easy to manage, activate and track gift program that ensures end-to-end compliance as per local regulations, you can sell more gift cards and add to your revenues without the risk of any legal ramifications.

#4. Plan Gift Cards Orders and Sales

Your supply of gift cards must meet demand, and you must never run low on its inventory. Estimate demand based on your sales volume, holiday season, and target demographics, and plan your order accordingly. Placing gift cards at the payment counter is a great way to capitalize on impulse purchases. Train your staff to recommend gift cards to customers when appropriate, and establish incentives for them to sell the most cards.

#5. Promote, Track, and Report

Marketing online and organizing giveaways on social media are excellent tactics to build brand awareness. Capitalizing on holiday season sales and occasions that focus on gift-giving will further propel your cannabis gift card sales. You must also track, measure, and report your program’s results regularly against other established KPIs for your business. An integrated reporting system provides you with insights easily extracted from data within your POS so that you can focus on making your gift cards program a success.

Gift cards are one of the safest and most convenient ways to improve cash flow without increasing COGS. A branded gift card that is fully-integrated with your POS system is simple to set up, easy to manage, flexible, and affordable. However, just implementing a gift card program is not enough, and you must have a robust marketing and sales strategy for your gift cards as well. With the complexity that comes with shopping for cannabis products, your marketing campaigns must enhance brand visibility and be able to communicate to customers that the best gift they can give is the gift of choice.

Download your free copy of the Ultimate Guide to GIFT CARDS for Cannabis Businesses by COVA, which is a comprehensive guide to the best ways to use gift cards in the cannabis industry, with detailed information on how to scale and sustain retail growth through a gift card program.

Gary Cohen is the CEO of Cova Software, the fastest growing technology brand in the cannabis industry. Cohen’s focus has been driving the company’s overall strategy, including its vision, go-to-market plan, and strategic development. Since joining the cannabis industry in 2016 and launching Cova commercially in 4q17, Cohen has led Cova to dominate the enterprise sector for dispensary Point of Sale, while forging client relationships with hundreds of single-store retailers across North America.

In solutioning the POS platform, Cohen & the Cova team have met with over 1,900 operators and leveraged expert knowledge to provide retailers the support they need to get a license, pass inspection, launch a store, and improve operations. Cohen leads seminars on retail technology, compliance, business operations, and cannabis banking laws at the industry’s largest events, including the NCIA and MJBizCon. As Cova has become the predominate thought leader for cannabis retail tech, Cohen has established himself as a leading voice educating cannabis entrepreneurs as they build their own successful brands.


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