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The old days are fading fast, and the cobbled together dispensary decorated with a lone tye-dye tapestry is a dying breed. In a few short years, cannabis retail design has become big business and an important consideration in competitive markets. But what are the best layout designs for a cannabis dispensary? We asked the design team at Green Cloud to share their insights on how to optimize cannabis retail space and what to consider when working with a design professional.

Customer experience

As states continue to expand their licenses for medical or recreational use, it’s vital that first time consumers have a great experience. An environment that feels safe and inviting is paramount, and a comfortable and beautiful design round out the equation. 

Proper lighting design creates a safe and welcoming atmosphere. Avoid overcrowding with merchandise and signage. Foster a sense of calm by creating purposeful negative space and points to pause.

This doesn’t mean your walls should be blank. Graphics and lifestyle imagery can be used to subtly convey a brand mission or vision.  These are points of connection that can help the consumer see themselves as part of the community your brand is trying to create.

What they see and feel within the space creates the emotion of comfort and belonging. What they learn helps them achieve wellness. Memorable moments create loyalty and make them spread the word.  See, Feel, Learn, Remember = Loyalty and return consumers.

Mood Board

Customer journey

The organization of the environment is critical, not only to the retailer from a successful operations perspective, but for the client. The consumer “journey” should be thoughtful, experiential, and educational.  How they enter the space, where they wait, what they do while they wait. Once ready to shop, merchandising, visual communication, and product flow is critical.

Category understanding, visual moments, and budtender engagement help enhance the shopping experience. Meanwhile the retailer can increase revenue through specific merchandising zones for new product launches and swag items such as T-shirts, caps, and water bottles.

Educational moments

Since not all consumers want to immediately engage with a cannabis professional, a well-designed store will encourage private info gathering. Covid-19 has put stress on our ability to interact casually and public touch screens are less desirable, but technology can still play a vital role in consumer knowledge. QR codes that bring information direct to a personal phone are a great way to allow consumers to self-educate prior to a deeper dive conversation with a budtender. Pamphlets and cards also offer information and specific brand recognition. Think of this in the reception area as well as within the retail environment.

Brand recognition within the space

Cannabis retail is like a small department store, with all brands and categories competing for attention and wall / shelf / floor space. We must find the delicate balance between how the store is merchandised so that loyal brand consumers can find what they want, while giving new brands and products the visibility to be discovered.  Successful positioning and merchandising flexibility within the footprint are important factors when designing.  Consider your ability to add new products and categories, as well as your ability to easily un-brand a previous area.  Flexibility is key.

Designing to a budget

Too often, money is not set aside up-front for design since the planned space seems so far away in the timeline, yet it becomes the most critical aspect when it’s time to open for business and start making money. And it truly is the most fun! Choosing the right design and fabrication partner is critical here, so that the process to smart decision making is early on and hand-in-hand with proper costing. This keeps the timeline moving forward and not backward, eliminating wasted resources and time. It all starts with a conversation! A beautiful environment can be built on ANY budget, it just comes down to communication, knowledge, education, and understanding options.

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