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Best Dispensary Designs & How to choose the right layout

Your dispensary layout plays a huge role in not only how the space will function from an employee and security point of view, but even more importantly, how your customers view their shopping experience with you and how your brand speaks to them. You know you need to attract sales, stay on top of tech and stand out from your competition. It can be a confusing decision to make, especially in emerging states.

The dispensary floor plan you land on ultimately drives sales, tech application, experience and employee retention. It is crucial to totally understand the three types, how they could work (or not work) for you and then how to implement them. Your goal is always a positive customer experience, and state/local compliance. Not all states or counties do allow all three of these models, so make sure you are aware of your regulations before you begin planning.

In this blog, I’ll teach you the three main types, pro’s and con’s of each, customer experience as well as how tech is integrated.

The Bank Dispensary Design

The bank dispensary layout is super common, and has a few easy to identify features. The customer enters through a secure entry and waiting room. The product is neatly tucked into individual budtender stations, each with its own POS. This means that the customer is prompted to an open station, selects products, fulfilled right there by the budtender. Each budtender manages and reconciles their own inventory and till. The customer exits through the same door they entered, or a separate man-trap exit. The bank model can be a great shopping experience for the customer because they get a 1:1 budtender experience. Products can be recommended, a trusting relationship built and a simple shopping journey. Tech is replicated at each identical station. One downside is that the products will be in a vision case, behind glass.
Bank models require custom case fabrication as well as behind the counter wall display.

Example of a Bank Model Layout; Sungrown Studio

The Pharmacy Dispensary Design

We are seeing more and more of the pharmacy layout because it offers great inventory advantages and customer shopping experience. In this scenario, the customer walks in through a secured waiting area just as they did in the bank model, but upon entering the sales floor, they are able and encouraged to wander a bit. Budtenders meet them on the floor with digital shopping carts. Once the customer is done shopping, the employee completes the sales transaction and the order is fulfilled in the back of the house. The guest then reviews their order with another employee at the pickup counter and exits through the same door they entered, or a secured exit. This model works well for a few reasons. Inventory control as mentioned, but also specialized employees. You will have some employees trained specifically on selling and customer service and separate employees trained on cash handling and product review. Tech will speak to each other, the orders sent to the back of the house for fulfillment (think like a restaurant). Our example above is actually a hybrid model. In this location, the employees behind the cash wrap fulfill the order as well as take payment. The customer experience is great, they have more interaction with product and merchandise. It feels a little more like shopping freely, but very secure.

Example of a Pharmacy Model; Sungrown Studio

The Open Retail Model Dispensary Design

An Open Retail dispensary plan is really what we see in a true Apple store layout. It is by far the most interactive, but also holds the highest operating costs. Many experiential dispensaries use this model, or a hybrid version of it. The customer will enter and provide ID, then freely wander through the sales floor. Dummy product (empty packaging for security reasons) is displayed, or products are in locked cases. They will fill a virtual shopping cart which is checked and entered by a budtender on the sales floor and filled back of house. Inventory is centrally located in the back of the house and managed. The guest pays at a central cash wrap area and the budtender meets them to review their purchase. This model is fun and interactive, but also requires more employees than typical to care for each guest. Security systems in place are also a cost factor, since you will likely require far more camera angles and security staff. From a customer point of view, this really is the most premium experience and can lead to high sales. You will be able to facilitate the impulse buying process easily.

The Open Retail Model; Sungrown Studio

I’d love to share a few of my takeaways on the three types of dispensary layouts to help guide you a little more. First, every single one of these dispensary layouts can be done in any amount of square footage. You don’t need a massive open space to make any of these super functional and beautiful. All of these can be done successfully in any budget level if you have access to the right sources. If you’re trying to decide on a layout, remember the key components of each. Like, how many employees will I need? How is inventory and fulfillment managed? Can my budtenders handle sales and cash transactions? What experience is my customer used to and what experience do I want my employees and guests to have? Is it compliant in my state? And last, if you love parts of one model and parts of another, we frequently design hybrid versions to make the layout unique to you and your brand.