How to Implement A Cannabis Dispensary Loyalty Program

Now you have designed an effective and compliant loyalty program, the next step is to implement it.

Progressive rollout

Implementing a full-featured loyalty program all at once can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it that way. We recommend rolling out the program in stages. First start with a basic pilot program and gradually expand according to member feedback and analytics. Once the program has been up and running long enough to understand its performance, you can add in features such as personalization, gamification, cannabis tracking tool, referral bonuses, or any other improvements.

We also suggest withholding some tier benefits at the beginning. This is because tier benefits are usually on-going, and they can be hard to change once introduced. If you are on the fence about a certain tier benefit, err on the side of caution and wait before introducing it.

Technical implementation

Effective loyalty programs are powered by strong technology. Defective software can cause errors and turn away frustrated customers. On the other hand, a robust software solution automates admin tasks and delights customers with thoughtful user experience.

The bare-minimum loyalty program technology includes:

Program database

A loyalty program generates tons of data. A well-structured database is needed to properly store and retrieve all this data.

Admin portal

Program managers need a convenient software interface to manage program activities and monitor performance. The admin software should enable program managers to:

  • Set up program logics
  • Manage member profiles
  • Create events and promotions
  • Send program communications
  • Analyze program metrics

In addition to the bare-minimum technologies, an effective loyalty program also should utilize:

Loyalty program website

This website should have three main pages, each serving a different function:

  • An overview page that promotes the program
  • A program terms and policy page that goes into details about how the program works
  • A member status page that shows a logged-in user their program status

This website can be a standalone site, or be part of an existing dispensary website.

Mobile loyalty app

We have already discussed the many benefits of a mobile app and we strongly suggest that dispensaries take advantage of it.

System integrations

To enable omni-channel sales and marketing, a loyalty program should integrate with the dispensary’s other technologies:

Point of sale (POS) system for in-store sales and ecommerce platform for online sales

These integrations will enable the following capabilities:

  • Redeem rewards and discounts both in-store and online
  • Display qualified rewards and discounts, as well as upcoming rewards, on both the POS and the website
  • When a customer updates their name, birthday, driver’s license, medical card or delivery address using the mobile app, auto-sync the update on both the POS and the website
  • Auto update loyalty status after each purchase both in-store and online
  • Display the earnable reward points on each product page, display point status on the post-checkout thank-you page.
  • Display purchase history on the mobile app

Customer relationship management (CRM) system

Auto sync customers’ loyalty program info with their existing profiles in your CRM, so that you can access all information in one place.

Marketing automation tools

Integrate with your existing email and SMS tools so you can send program communications with ease.

AI personalization

We have discussed the many benefits of personalizing loyalty program offers to each customer’s purchase history and product preferences, but how do you do that for so many customers? Artificial intelligence is the answer. 

Machine learning algorithms can create highly accurate personalized offers automatically. Once the system is set up and running, you can just kick back and let the machine do its work. And as more data is collected over time, the algorithms will improve themselves and become ever more accurate. 

Organizational implementation

Appoint a program manager

We recommend appointing a loyalty program manager (most likely someone from the marketing department) to be in charge of the overall program operations. The program manager’s responsibilities include:

  • Oversee program implementation
  • Update rewards and activities to keep things fresh
  • Analyze performance data: The program manager can work with the finance team to understand the results. Use the insights to adjust program elements and communication to optimize the outcome.
  • Gather feedback from customers and other departments to continuously improve
  • Support customer inquiries: Answer customer questions about the program and treat your most loyal customers with extra-special care. This will ensure high program satisfaction.

Involve other staff

Every dispensary employee should be supporting the program manager’s work, and contributing to the loyalty program’s success in their own way. Everyone should be familiar with the loyalty program’s policy and offerings, promote the program at every opportunity, give feedback to the program manager on ways to improve.

  • Budtenders, delivery drivers, store operations: Answer customers’ loyalty program questions, promote program enrollment and gather customer feedback
  • Finance and accounting departments: provide support for program financial analysis
  • Procurement and inventory: ensure supply of loyalty rewards, partner with manufacturers and distributors for sponsored loyalty promotions.

Launch and promote the program

Create launch announcements

This is how you let people know about the new loyalty program. These communications can be used for program launch, as well as for continued program promotions. Come up with design elements and slogans that align with your brand. Use language consistent with the program’s communication strategy developed in Step 7.

Below are some common types of announcement materials:

  • In-store: Window posters, standing banners, counter tents, hand-out flyers
  • Dispensary website: homepage banner, loyalty program promotional webpage, loyalty program terms and policy page
  • Dispensary social media: pinned posts and announcements
  • Newsletters: deliver them through the channels defined in Step 7.

Launch and spread the word

Time to set the program live and dispatch the launch announcements through all the communication channels!

Currently, online advertising platforms like Google and Facebook do not allow cannabis related ads, but when these restrictions are lifted in the future, dispensaries can also consider promoting the loyalty program through online advertising.

Incentivize enrollment

The attractive program benefits that you have designed in Chapter 2 are the best way to incentivize enrollment. In addition, if the program budget allows, you can encourage more customers to enroll by offering a signup bonus. For example, sign up and get 500 starter points, or sign up and get double points for your entire purchase today.

Ongoing program management

Send follow-up emails, continue your promotions, organize special events, use the feedback and performance measurements to adjust program elements. Over time, the active management involved will decrease as routine work becomes systematized.

By Nora Chen