Marketing limitations can make it hard to have a real impact on the cannabis market. Tactics like advertising work in certain instances, but don’t always offer a lot of opportunity in the cannabis industry as a result of so many restrictions and limited reach. The House of Cannabis experienced this issue while trying to make a statement amongst a sea of competitors in Canada. Here’s what their founder and marketing partner learned.
“Cannabis is a dynamic and interesting market. Nothing is the same. There are so many rules and regulations that you have to navigate, so it really makes you think outside the box.” Ben Tran, the Founder of The House of Cannabis says.
Founded in 2021, The House of Cannabis chain has four current locations that offer a unique and modern experience to their customers (with more underway). They bring the wow factor into their stores with innovative technology, such as the robotic budtender that greets customers and helps them navigate the store. The House of Cannabis plans to focus their retail efforts on delivery in the upcoming year.
They also pride themselves on their high-quality inventory and carefully-curated menus at each location: Keswick, Barrie, Chinatown, and Old Town. They stock unique, locally-blown glass pieces and also reach out to the community by offering food drives for families in need.
Due to what they felt was a 'generic' online shopping experience, The House of Cannabis was experiencing low AOV (average order value) from their customers and little opportunity to stand out from the big competitors. With over 1100 cannabis retail stores in Ontario, Ben was joining a crowded market at a time where online ordering became popular due to COVID-19 restrictions. He wanted more Search Engine Optimization (SEO) capabilities to help customers find more specific products via Google searches. Ben’s marketer and Managing Director at Black Hawk, Christian Borys, explains how a custom menu can appeal to search engines.
“Dutchie’s Ecommerce Plus allows your products to live on your site and Google is able to connect those thousands of products with your brand.” -says Christian at Black Hawk.
They looked at multiple custom ecommerce platforms but found the Dutchie software had the flexibility and APIs they needed to build on. (API stands for Application Programming Interface, a software foundation that allows two applications to communicate.)
The flexibility of Ecommerce Plus gave Ben and Christian room for inspiration and innovation. Familiar with other digital shopping ecosystems, they were able to create an awesome online shopping experience that helps to normalize cannabis.
“Christian was 100% on board with creating one of the best ecommerce engines, not just in Ontario, but in all of North America.” Ben says, highlighting his excitement about the project partnership.
“For us, it’s being able to take a store and enable them to upsell within the digital cart. Essentially what we’ve done for Ben is create an amazing cannabis ecommerce site. But also, we are building little apps that will function within his menu. We built pop-ups for add-on purchases that will increase the average order value on the site. Maximizing each sale is the next evolution of ecommerce in cannabis.” says Christian, who comes from a background in design and ecommerce.
They were able to track their progress via sales numbers through launching version 1.0 of the customized site last year, and now they are finishing up version 2.0.
Christian predicts the outcome of the new launch:
“I would feasibly think implementing these apps can boost specials and promotions by catering to the customer. On the homepage, we are going to be offering deals that Ben can swap daily and guide them to cross-promotions with brands. It’s all stuff that no one is really doing yet, so I really think Ben is going to blow it out of the water in the coming year.”
A big selling point for them was that “Dutchie protects our data and our customer’s data. Since it was made for cannabis, it fits our operations so well. It’s always nicer to have a specialized solution.” Ben also notes that POS integrations worked better with Dutchie too, and helps The House of Cannabis limit their 3rd-party tools (programming content, etc). He plans to switch to our LeafLogix by Dutchie POS next.
In addition to data privacy, Ben also likes that Dutchie Ecommerce Plus does not take a portion of the store’s online sales as payment. Instead, the cost is more reasonable without giving up quality, which makes more sense for their business operations. “This is a platform that helps us share information as beautifully and on-brand as possible, all while staying compliant,” Ben states, confirming his decision.
Even more revenue is on the horizon with Black Hawk’s version 2.0 of The House of Cannabis site.
The search engine advances and custom apps are giving Ben’s business the leg up he needed to stand out from the competition.
He received positive customer feedback on their Black Hawk website and the custom filtering options.
Christian and Ben estimate a 20% increase in AOV by building these digital upsell opportunities into their newly refreshed Ecommerce Plus site.
Their next move is to give their brand partners space to talk directly to consumers about their products. They plan to create brand-specific web pages, which will link back to their menu, help sell more of the product, and keep customers on their menus for longer periods of time.
Outside of revenue goals, Ben mentions another perk of having a customized ecommerce site:
“You need to present information as clearly and effectively as possible, while staying within regulations. We can’t promote products for sleep and things like that, but the next best thing we can do is exhibit our brand information directly to our online customer base.”
Want to see Dutchie’s Ecommerce Plus example site? Check it out here to help realize your own retail goals.