Common Interior Design Mistakes Dispensaries Make
So maybe you’re in the pre-planning/real estate scouting phase or just looking for a little pro advice on what to look for in a redesign of your existing space. This week we are going to jump right into some of the most common mistakes that I see (and fix) in cannabis and hemp dispensaries.
Low Quality Fixtures will get destroyed, faster than you think. You really do need to get practical here. Your heavy traffic items are going to get worn out if you’ve got steady traffic. (Which is, of course, the goal in any retail shop.) The furniture needs to be durable, comfortable and functional. The most common places I see quality severely lacking is flooring, seating and the main display tables. Cash wrap countertops also can be damaged easily with everyday wear, not to mention deep Covid cleanings. In these locations, go for performance materials. In many cases I go big and opt for hospital grade to eliminate the worry. Even if you don’t go hospital grade, go commercial or even hospitality grade. Every finish and fabric has been tested and rated to withstand eleven the busiest of locations. What you may save upfront with a lower priced, lower quality item you will spend double to replace it down the road. Keep in mind also that replacing a floor or counter is no easy feat and can force your store into a temp shutdown until the switch is made. A store that looks beat up isn’t going to have your customers enjoying their experience, or feeling good about putting their health and wellness in your hands.
Just as you don’t think of your brand as temporary, your design and furnishings shouldn’t be either.
Underestimated the vault size. Your security company usually doesn’t get involved until it’s too late in the construction phase, or maybe you’ve upped your sku’s and offerings since you bought the space. But it is super common to find a few years into a new store that the vault just isn’t functioning efficiently anymore. I don’t really have a magic square footage to recommend, but I would suggest whatever you think you need, double it. It’s also extremely important to think about how your vault will work with legal compliance requirements and also your selling model. So if all the product needs to go into the vault at night, you’re going to want rolling carts to move the product. They will all need to park into the vault easily and not interfere with stock you have camping out in there. Oh, and you’ve got to be able to walk in there, conduct inventories and move stock to a fulfillment area.
And, that leads me to fulfillment. Notice how your online sales are constant? Maybe even higher than your foot traffic? Your fulfillment area should function like a well oiled pharmacy machine. Aka, more space here too. It’s also wise to plan on investing in an organization and coding system. If your customer is waiting “forever” to get their order simply because your fulfillment area is a mess, you know what we’re talking about. Or your employees are having a hard time locating the product to fill in a reasonable amount of time, you know there’s work to do.
Your layout isn’t working. The first thing I do to every single space I design is find out about your customer experience. Before I come up with colors and WOW moments, I find out who your people are and how they like to shop. What they’re buying and why. Without this knowledge, you can’t create a stellar plan. A bad floor plan leads to bad customer traffic flow, confusion and security issues. We are carefully looking for efficiency and also ways to encourage your shoppers to spend more time in the areas of the store that they will spend the most. We want your customers to have a positive experience every step of the way. We do this through a thorough understanding of how people really shop. Meaning, they walk in and we can predict where they will wander first, second, third and so on throughout their time in your dispensary. In doing this we can make the most of your available square footage and make every inch count.
You’re perpetuating shitty stereotypes. If you’re hiring a cannabis retail designer (and you know you should) then it seems like a given that you desperately want to break the stereotypes previously put out there and achieve a space that resonates with your brand, your identity and your vision. We have even blogged on Redesigning the Future of Cannabis. This mistake most often pops up in artwork. I actually think in many cases the art and accessories added to a store is an afterthought, like “Oh we need something on this wall.” So a well intentioned employee may google cannabis art and poof, there is now a 4’ poster of xyz on the wall. It does not speak to your customer. It does not support who you are. Art is subjective, true. My rule of thumb is that if it does not support your image, brand and vision, it’s out. This also goes for temporary exterior signage.