Waiting time in the retail world can be the kiss of death. The high of the shopping experience can quickly be killed by time spent waiting for service or queuing up in a line. If you don’t want this part of the customer journey to be a buzz kill, then we have some strategies that make waiting customers feel like they are simply hanging out in the coolest joint in town.
“Waiting time is the single most important factor in customer satisfaction. When shoppers are made to wait too long in line (or anywhere else), their impression of overall service plunges.”
Paco Underhill, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping
First off, let’s be real: waiting is an unavoidable part of shopping for cannabis. In medical dispensaries this may include the lobby check-in process in order to wait for one-on-one consultation time as well as the check-out process. In recreational dispensaries, the longer waits may be in the actual showroom or during the course of the final transaction.
Since it can’t be avoided, the question is, “What can you do?” How can you transform actual waiting time into what could be perceived as merely part of an experience, a customer journey that is so engaging people don’t realize they are waiting?
5 Strategies for Transforming the Impression of Waiting Times in the Lobby
Distract Them with Design
The overall design of your lobby and waiting area sets the stage for the rest of the customer journey. This is like the opening song on your summer tour set list. And the mood it evokes determines how customers will feel as they wait. Use design to eliminate the anxiety of waiting. The setting—whether serene and spa-like, comfy and residential, or bold and interactive—should speak to the brand and welcome customers to this unique experience. If done right, customers will be taking advantage of Instagrammable moments instead of “waiting”.
Create Selling Opportunities with Visual Merchandising
A great way to distract people, enhance engagement and increase sales is to provide more shopping opportunities. While you can’t give them access to your cannabis products at this point, you can heighten the anticipation and deepen brand loyalty with displays of complementary accessories or branded merchandise. Lifestyle products adorned in your brand identity, such as hats, t-shirts, coffee mugs, or yoga mats, not only make great browsable displays—they attract attention and turn your customers into walking billboards.
Implement Enhanced Features for Personal Devices
No matter what magazines or digital content you put in a lobby setting, you can count on customers interacting with their own personal devices, like tablets and smartphones. Think about investing in website enhancements that allow customers to have a one-on-one experience with your brand while they wait. They can explore content, research products, maybe even place an order. This is an opportunity to bring the digital and brick and mortar experiences together and use them to your advantage to minimize the impression of a wait.
Provide Engaging Literature
A tried and true element in many different types of waiting rooms is a supply of magazines. The key here is really thinking about your audience and their interests. Try a combination of subject matter, such as health and wellness publications along with cannabis industry staples and general interest magazines like People and Time. It doesn’t all have to be cannabis-focused, and in fact the mixing in of mainstream and pop-culture publications goes a long way in normalizing the dispensary experience. In order to transform the impression of a wait, curate subject matter of real interest that will engross customers, letting them lose track of time with a good old fashion tabloid in hand.
Entertain with Digital Content on Display
Another common solution in many lobbies and waiting area settings is the use of TV screens and/or digital signage. But before you go mounting screens on every wall like a sports bar, ask yourself— “Is this how I want my brand to engage with my customers at this critical first impression moment?” If you do decide to have a screen, then content curation is important. What type of content suits your customer mix and reinforces your brand experience? A loop of funny YouTube videos, educational content, surfing competitions or cartoons? What will catch their eye and maintain their patience? The right digital content will captivate.
Five strategies down and five to go! Once your customers have proceeded past this entry point, their journey can still include a little more waiting time. In Part II, we will share five tips for turning showroom waits into “wins”. Until next time, please enjoy the wait!