How to remain agile as a cannabis retailer

5 mins read

by Leandra Reid and Krista Raymer, Vetrina Group

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that businesses must be agile to survive. Simply put, cannabis retailers that fail to build an infrastructure for agility will fail.

The traditional retail model incorporating values of hierarchy, bureaucracy and process centricity creates an environment of rigidity. The results? Inability to grow, innovate and compete with rivals who are able to rapidly adapt to changing market circumstances. These rigid companies cannot mitigate risks that arise through operational challenges and economic changes, inevitably leading to poor customer service and loss of market share.

Take DavidsTea as an example. 

The Montreal-based beverage retailer announced July 30, 2020 that they would only maintain 18 of their 166 Canadian locations. With a renewed focus on e-commerce and supplying third-party vendors, it was too little too late. Over the years, the corporation failed to adapt to changing consumer demands. DavidsTea’s inability to institute a competitive and agile business model caused its decline. 

In 2020, DavidsTea closed all but 18 of their stores – unable to shift quickly to consumer demands and a rapidly-changing market.

Compared to DavidsTea, cannabis retailers are being trained from their onset to perfect a culture of agility. At inception, with little known about how the market will evolve and change, cannabis retailers have serviced the customer in front of them. 

But what about the plan for the future?

The cannabis industry operates on the edge of chaos with changing regulations, fluctuating COVID restrictions and new competition on every block. The ability to operate through the edge of chaos has never been more vital for cannabis retailers. Cannabis retailers are continually faced with unforeseen challenges and market disruptions. It is essential to adopt agile business methods to survive in such a volatile sector.

As we look toward the next year of exponential market growth, competing cannabis retailers will need to be able to respond to change and act quickly in unpredictable situations. 

Here are three ways retailers can become agile and stay competitive:

Think like a customer

Adapt goods and services to the customer’s demands. Track how those demands change. Focus on what your team needs to anticipate the customer’s needs.

Empower Employees

Micromanagement suppresses the spirit of your company and crew. Ensure employees know exactly what they are accountable for and have the freedom to meet those expectations. People who feel heard are more open to sharing innovative ideas, improving the customer-centric efficiency and participating in the solutions.  

Move quick, but reflect often

This needs to be a structured process. In the beginning, it can feel forced. Creating this feedback loop will help identify what effective and ineffective business practices are

Generally speaking, building a culture of agility to operate successfully is the saving grace that cannabis retailers need. Such practices promote employee and customer satisfaction while providing the flexibility needed for ever-evolving market forces and disruptions. It is a method that will help retailers stay ahead of competitors and survive the constant market changes that will continue to come. 


About Vetrina Group

Vetrina Group was co-founded by Leandra Reid and Krista Raymer, with one goal in mind: To make retail businesses as profitable as possible. The Vetrina Group team draws from diverse expertise and experience contributing to all facets of retail businesses. The work they do is driven by data and innovation. Connect with Vetrina Group.


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