4 min read

The Differences Between a Dispensary Website and a Cannabis Directory

May 15, 2020

One of the most challenging aspects of running a profitable business is capturing a great ROI on marketing and advertising channels. For dispensaries and cannabis delivery services, this is an even greater challenge due to cannabis advertising regulations such as the banning of cannabis ads on Google and Facebook. To get menus and products in front of consumers, Cannabusinesses must rely on industry-specific directories or their own dispensary website. 

Cannabis Directory and Dispensary Website 

Deciding between listing with a cannabis directory or using your own website can be a daunting decision to make as there are pros and cons with each. Cannabis directories such as Weedmaps and Leafly have the ability to showcase your business to tens of thousands of unique visitors with the click of a button (and for a price, more on that to follow). 

Your website, especially if you recently launched, will not receive the immediate web traffic that a cannabis directory will draw for you in the same time period. Starting a website for a new business will take time to generate web traffic (and therefore revenue). Though the return will not be immediate, building a user-friendly website or using a third party platform and hiring a trusted SEO agency can be a better long term investment for a dispensary or delivery service. 

Costs of a Cannabis Directory

Boasting tens of millions of unique visitors a month, it is no surprise that web directories such as Weedmaps and Leafly charge a subscription fee for business listings. Dispensaries pay a premium for a listing in the top 3 local search results. One dispensary in Santa Ana paid Weedmaps $20,000 per month for such a listing. After a year, that particular dispensary did not see the ROI that it had hoped to see, and it ceased the agreement with Weedmaps. 

Though Weedmaps and Leafly absolutely will get eyes on your business listing, business owners will always have to wonder: what if another shop that has deeper advertising pockets opens around the corner? In the pay-to-play model of cannabis directories, being relegated to the bottom of local search results and losing search rank overnight is a frightening and potentially costly prospect.

Costs of a Dispensary Website

More dispensaries and delivery services are opting to host their menu and online stores on their own website. This gives the business total control on the messaging and platform without the outside competition from local shops. There are typical costs associated with building and maintaining a website: hosting, development, SEO, etc. 

Using a third party platform as your online dispensary is another option. Once many of the upfront costs are accounted for, a dispensary website becomes largely self-sufficient. A point-of-sale system such as IndicaOnline syncs your inventory to your website, so there is no need to manually update the menu on your website. Increasingly, more dispensaries are realizing the profitability of a website/online store because of changing consumer trends due to COVID-19.   

Features of a Dispensary Website

E-Commerce is the future of cannabis retail, and that future is already here. Potify is an online store platform available for free to dispensaries and delivery services using IndicaOnline point-of-sale system. 

For dispensaries and delivery services without a website, Potify offers a white label URL to host your online store. With a digital storefront such as Potify, customers are able to browse product pages, filter product search results, and leave reviews. For the consumer, it is the ultimate online shopping experience— similar to Amazon or Postmates. 

Combined Approach to Digital Dispensary Marketing

Deciding between an online directory and a website depends on many factors– geographical, monetary, and time, to name a few. For brand new dispensaries, it might be a good idea to consider using both an online directory and a website. Typically, even the best SEO and Google Business practices won’t see meaningful traffic conversions for a few months. 

During that time, a dispensary may choose to use a hybrid approach: list with an online directory to push traffic to their dispensary website. When opening a digital store, most dispensaries run email and/or SMS campaigns promoting deals specific to ordering from their online store. This is a great way to push traffic to your website and online store without inflating your marketing budget. 

If your dispensary or delivery service is already paying an online directory listing, now is the time to review the ROI. Compare those numbers with an online storefront to see if you need to put more marketing dollars into your website or take a more hybrid approach.