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5 Surefire Ways to Improve Holiday Retail Operations

Dispensary operations can get chaotic during the holiday season. Holiday promotions and an increase in consumer shopping bring more customers through your door than any other time of the year. This brings you great potential for hitting sales and revenue records, but if your operations can’t keep up, this potential will not be fulfilled. Preparing your store floor for success takes planning. You must consider all of the holiday-related elements that will affect your normal day-to-day operations. Some of these include increased store traffic, modified hours of operation, seasonal product trends and inventory management, and even consumer behavior. These 5 things will help you identify ways to optimize your operations and run a smooth dispensary floor this holiday season.


surefire ways for dispensaries to improve operations this holiday season

1. Consider Everything That Can Affect Your Staff Schedule

Staff scheduling will look very different this time of year and it can be a difficult task for dispensary managers. These are some considerations you should make when preparing your holiday staff schedule.

Holiday Hours of Operation 

One of the factors that will affect scheduling is your modified hours of operation. Before you create your schedule, you will first want to establish what your holiday hours will be. Some days, you'll want to extend your hours to allow for more shopping, while other days you will reduce your hours to let your team spend time with their families.


Extended hours of operation are common in retail shops during the holidays. Your customers are busiest this time of year, so being flexible is one way to attract more shoppers to your dispensary.


How your holiday hours influence operations in your dispensary


Team Availability 

Be sure to ask your team ahead of time what their holiday plans are and what their availability is. Some team members will likely want to take off more time off, while others look forward to the holidays as a time to work more hours. Identify who these people are, as this will help you greatly when it comes to writing your staff schedule.


Increased Customer Traffic 

When making your schedule, consider that the holidays are the busiest time of year for retailers. Not only will you want to have more staff on the floor than usual, it’s also smart to have on-call staff that can come in to help out if things get too busy and overwhelming.


 be prepared for the crowds



Inevitable Volatility That Comes with the Season

Another reason it’s smart to have on-call staff during the holidays is that volatility on your store floor and with staff availability is common. This time of year, it’s not abnormal for your dispensary floor to suddenly pick up during a time that is usually slow. Additionally, inclement weather can result in staff coming in late due to transportation issues. 


The holidays are a stressful time of year to work in retail, so make sure your staff has enough time off to decompress and recharge.


2. Prep Your Staff Ahead of Time

Before the chaos begins, it’s crucial to prepare your staff for what’s to come. Set up a holiday training and informational session to clearly communicate your expectations for the holiday season. Let them know what you expect a typical day to look like and what expectations you have from them. This training session should cover the following topics: holiday logistics and scheduling, seasonal promotions and specials, gifts and opportunities to upsell, and any other operational changes. Learn more operational tips in this chapter of the 2018 Holiday Guide for Cannabis Retailers. 


Holiday operations tips for dispensaries: have a holiday staff training session


Walk through some operational efficiencies you are adopting to help things run more smoothly, and what role your team should play in that. For example, since online ordering and in-store kiosks speed up transactions, explain to your budtenders how they can encourage customers to use these express ordering options to skip the line.

It is also very important that your staff fully understands all of your holiday deals and establish opportunities to upsell your dispensary customers. Prepare them on how to answer specific questions about your holiday gift guide, promotions, and any other holiday-related activations.


Print out a list of your holiday promotions with the answers to common questions about those promos. Hand this out to your team at your staff training session and post them near the registers for quick reference.

3. Speed up Transaction Times to Shorten the Lines

Fast transactions will help you to keep things running smoothly on your store floor. One way to speed up your transaction times is to introduce an express ordering program. This will reduce the time required to fulfill each transaction – not only improving your operations, but improving the customer experience. The Baker CRM platform can help facilitate faster transactions in dispensaries through online ordering for pickup and delivery. Kiosks also allow customers to place in-store express orders, browse through products, and inform themselves about your product offering. Having informed customers will reduce the amount of time they need to spend asking budtenders questions. 


Baker kiosks speed up transaction times and reduce lines in dispensaries across the US and Canada

Despite introducing these efforts to improve transaction times and reduce lines, it's still likely that your customers will experience higher wait times than usual. To make the wait more bearable, try bringing in things to occupy customers and patients as they wait. Some ideas are cornhole, Jenga, a pinball machine, or other interactive activities.

4. Motivate Your Staff

It’s inevitable that your team will get stressed at some point during the holiday season. A small detail that is often forgotten is the role that music plays in setting the mood of your store and staff. You’ll be surprised by how much of a difference playing faster and upbeat tunes will make. Try to avoid playing sad or melancholy songs as this will kill the vibe and make your staff slow and sleepy.  


motivate your budtenders and dispensary staff with upbeat music

As previously mentioned, make sure to give your staff enough time off during the holidays to destress and recharge. Keep their motivation strong by bringing in small but thoughtful gifts, such as pizza and coffee – lots of coffee. Finally, you may consider hosting a holiday staff party or activity. This will help boost morale and encourage employee bonding.


Celebrate your team's hard work throughout the holiday season – not just at the end!

5. Order the Right Inventory for the Season

Stocking your store with enough (but not too much) of the right products is key to optimizing your sales and revenue during the holiday season. When placing your wholesale orders you will need to consider changing seasonal trends and your holiday promotions. You may need to place special orders from vendors you’ve never worked with before. For example, if you’ve created a gift set with a medicated bath bomb, terpene-scented candle and loofah, you may need to find a vendor to order loofahs from. Get more insights from chapter 6 of the 2018 Holiday Guide, on Product Inventory Data. 

Also, consider other holiday-themed products or products. This might include holiday-themed strains, cold-weather beverages like tea and coffee, and pre-roll sampler packs that make great stocking stuffers! Don’t forget the unmedicated items as well, which can include winter apparel and swag, and other components of your gift sets – such as the loofah.


put holiday-themed products on display in your dispensary

Seasonal and holiday trends will also play a big role in your order and inventory requirements. Don’t just use last year’s data, as what worked for your last year may not reflect this year’s trends and work for you this year. The market is constantly shifting, so use recent sales data and insights from cannabis analytics firms such as Headset or BDS Analytics.

Wrapping Up

All aspects of your operations are essential to running a successful business during the holidays. Attracting more customers to your store will help increase sales during the holidays, but controlling the retail environment to reflect your brand will help yield higher returns for all future sales all year long.

We hope you enjoyed reading and wish you the best of luck in promoting the gift of cannabis this holiday season! 

Read our complete 2018 Holiday Guide for Cannabis Retailers in order to be the upmost prepared this holiday season. 

2018 Holiday Guide for Cannabis Retailers


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