Opinion: How cannabis store design can help lure more consumers

Women, minority execs show few gains in U.S. cannabis industry, according to the latest data from the MJBiz Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Report. Get your copy here.


Image of the interior of Medcare Farms in Lake Elsinore, California

The interior of the Medcare Farms store in Lake Elsinore, California. (Photo courtesy of Urban-Gro)

Image of Sam Andras
Sam Andras

Cannabis retail is becoming increasingly experiential around the country with today’s consumers expecting top-tier, thoughtfully designed stores that showcase a brand’s unique identity.

With more modern marijuana stores cropping up each day, it is essential that retailers make intelligent, creative design choices to help them stand out from the rest and keep customers coming back.

There are several ways that retailers can best tackle these critical decisions on the design of their stores from the ground up:

Using branding to keep customers coming back

The reality in cannabis today is that prices across the board are competitive, no matter the market or the sector.

Simply put, consumers have a choice as to where they want to shop.

With this in mind, a retailer’s branding and physical presence should focus on the complete consumer experience to ensure that every guest has the most fulfilling visit possible.

Customers should enjoy coming into the shop, where they can consult with helpful, knowledgeable budtenders and take in the atmosphere of the brand.

The physical design choices made by retailers throughout the building process are what create this full experience.

Opting for simple self-serve kiosks and efficient point-of-sale systems can make purchases seamless, while stationing budtenders at the counter and out on the floor can guide customers’ choices.

Adaptable lighting systems and color choices work to set the tone of the location, along with other custom design choices made in the build.

For example, one recreational cannabis retail brand in Massachusetts carefully thought out each and every building aspect.

The team leveraged turnkey solutions to realize their vision, tying together unique branding with the physical space to create a location that draws consumers in.

The company’s brand is rustic and connected to nature, so the team chose thoughtful design details such as reclaimed wood, a retail counter that resembles a flowing river and lighting that emulates running water.

The retail floor itself features a lounge setup with tables and chairs for customers awaiting their orders, and self–serve kiosks and budtenders throughout the store allow customers to engage however they prefer.

Such careful choices from the beginning of the build create a peaceful, engaging environment that customers connect with and return to.

Solutions for thoughtful design

The beauty of turnkey solutions lies in flexibility – with a great team supporting them, retailers of all sizes can work through their design vision and pivot as necessary to achieve it.

Turnkey solution providers keep design and construction phases on a tight schedule while still having the resources to secure custom work.

Providers can expedite building processes and help get a store online as quickly as possible, allowing retailers to beat the competition.

In a turnkey setting, key stakeholders and team members have the opportunity to evaluate components and make timely decisions to keep the project moving forward.

Turnkey providers integrate contractors into the build from the very beginning, often preventing problems before they occur.

When design and construction work hand in hand, not only is the constructability of the design ensured but the original intent of the design also remains intact.

For example, many clients want custom work done in their store, whether that includes unique woodwork, tile, painting, decoration or more.

Customized work often alters a construction schedule and slows progress, throwing the entire project off course.

Turnkey providers can keep the project on track by proactively addressing requests and changes before they are realized in the field without sacrificing the quality of the products or the custom work.

In this way, they ensure durability and cost control to keep the build running smoothly.

Maintaining compliance during a build-out

Additionally, with the varying regulations from state to state, turnkey providers are instrumental in maintaining the design vision while adapting to standards.

For example, retailers in New York have specific requirements for potential build-outs that outline rules for various design features.

Among other requirements. such as surveillance and proper ventilation, these conditions include:

  • Open layouts.
  • Having up to 10 point-of-sale areas at each store.
  • Maintaining a secure-space storeroom area and a vault door shielded from customer view.

With contractors involved in every aspect of a build-out, retailers can more easily follow specific design conditions in each market while maintaining their sense of individuality.

In short, a premium customer experience can seal the deal for customer loyalty and lure in newcomers.

However, the pursuit of this goal begins even before the very first brick is laid, with thoughtful planning and design focusing on branding and identity at every stage of the process.

This goal is achievable to all retailers through turnkey solutions that incorporate vision into each decision, allowing for customization without sacrificing quality and timing.

By incorporating these ideas, retailers can get ahead of the competition and connect with recreational consumers and medical patients alike, fostering a welcoming environment created with care.

Sam Andras is executive vice president of professional services at Urban-Gro, a marijuana cultivation facility design and engineering firm based in Lafayette, Colorado. He can be reached at sam@2wrarch.com.

To be considered for publication as a guest columnist, please submit your request here.