Comparing Dispensary Menu Options For Your Website
In the past, cannabis retail menus were just listed on a big wall in the back of a dispensary — in some places, they weren’t displayed at all.
Now, there are a number of dispensary menu options options both for consumers to find cannabis products and dispensaries to list what they’re selling.
Three of the most popular online dispensary menu options are called marketplaces, embedded menus, and native/API menus. This post explains what each of those terms mean and which solution is best for your unique cannabis retail business.
First, what are online dispensary menus?
Online dispensary menus, or ecommerce menu platforms, list your marijuana products so customers can view them and order directly from your website. These orders are fulfilled by your dispensary, either through cannabis delivery, order ahead pickup, or curbside drop-off — depending on your workflows.
Cannabis dispensary menus often integrate, or link, with your cannabis point of sale system. This integration means in-store and online inventory is synced and accurate. This way, online shoppers only see the products you have in stock.
The obvious benefit of a digital dispensary menu is the ability to attract and convert shoppers digitally, without the effort or restrictions of your retail budtenders and storefront.
What is a dispensary marketplace?
A shopper simply puts in their location and is then able to find and order any product they desire at a marijuana dispensary near them.
For example, according to Weedmaps’ website, they provide “consumers with information regarding cannabis products, including online ordering, local retailer and brand listings, product discovery, and consumer education on cannabis and its history, uses, and legal status.”
Pros of marketplaces:
- Easy to set up. You can get running and start listing your products online quickly.
- Unlocks retail visibility. Dispensaries can get their brand in front of thousands who search marketplaces every day.
- Added toolstack. You’ll have the option to integrate with related marketplace tools like point of sale, marketing, and operations.
Cons of marketplaces:
- Heated competition. Marketplaces force retailers into intense competition and can drive prices down as a result.
- Uncontrollable brand experience. Customers feel like they’re shopping with that marketplace, not your brand.
- Lack of data ownership. Dispensaries get very little access to their own customer data.
- No website traffic. Listing on a marketplace means your customers are shopping on a third-party website instead of your own.
What is an embedded dispensary menu?
Embedding a dispensary menu essentially means integrating your marketplace menu listing to your own website. This is done by adding the necessary code into a dedicated page on your website. This code is supplied by the marketplace.
When you embed your marketplace menu, shoppers can browse your product selection directly within your website. So you can keep your entire brand shopping experience (and the corresponding site traffic) on your own website. And, you can still keep your listing active on the corresponding marketplace.
Also, depending on the marketplace you’re listing on, you may have options to customize your embedded menu so it looks more at home on your site.
Some popular embedded dispensary menu options include:
Pros of embedded menus:
- Affordable. You won’t break the bank with this menu option.
- Own your traffic. Embedded menus drive website sessions to your site.
- Keep your marketplace listing. You still have the exposure and reach of the dispensary marketplace.
- Easy integration. Embedded menus integrate with most cannabis POS systems.
- More brand control. You have a greater influence over the customer experience.
Cons of embedded menus:
- Not fully customizable. There are limits to how much you can customize your embedded menu.
- Minimal access to data. You won’t have full access or control over your data.
- Less SEO friendly. Generally, embedded menus lack the access to fully optimize for search engines.
What is a native dispensary menu
Native, or headless API, dispensary menus are built specifically for your business. Instead of embedding your marketplace listing on your site, these menus utilize the backend functionality of marketplaces to create custom menus that live directly on your website. Essentially the frontend of your site (that customers interact with) is completely customized, while the backend is seamlessly integrated with a dedicated e-commerce platform.
This process requires the help of a developer and a good amount of dedicated time to set up and customize your digital menu. The result is a completely unique e-commerce experience, complete with custom category and detail pages for every product you sell.
Some popular native dispensary menu options include:
Pros of native menus:
- Very customizable. You can pick and choose how your menu looks and feels for customers.
- You own your data. Use your data for marketing communications or just to give customers peace of mind.
- SEO friendly. Every page of a native dispensary menu can rank for relevant search terms.
Cons of native menus:
- Time consuming. A custom native menu project will take significant time investment.
- Expensive. These menus will cost you a pretty penny.
- Requires upkeep and maintenance. You may need a trained in-house expert on your staff or available for hire to fix site issues or run site updates.
What’s the best online cannabis menu option for your dispensary business?
The most effective dispensary menu option depend on factors like:
- Dispensary size
- Business goals
- Team bandwidth
For example, if you’re just launching your dispensary project or have a very limited budget, it may be best to stick with a marketplace to gain some exposure.
If you’re looking for a way to boost yourself above the competition, consider embedding your marketplace menu to personalize and improve your dispensary website experience.
For those with a large budget and plenty of time on their hands, look into building a custom dispensary menu for your shop. The payoff is full control over a unique brand shopping experience for your customers.
Looking for help embedding your dispensary menu?
Clutch offers dispensary menu integration services and consultations to help you get the most out of your online cannabis menu. Contact us for a free website consultation!