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The Future of Digital Experiences & Augmented Reality (AR) in Retail Cannabis Stores

Retail Cannabis and Augmented Reality

Legal cannabis is more than just a budding industry in Canada. More than 600 cannabis retail stores have opened in Ontario alone since nation-wide legalization occurred in October of 2017 – and competition is just starting to heat up! But how many of these stores will survive?

At this point, truly, only time will tell!

While some municipalities, like Toronto, have received suggestions from city councillors that, to avoid communities being inundated with dozens of cannabis stores, cities should be able to regulate how many are allowed in each neighbourhood, but ultimately, it will be left to the market – and consumer – to decide.

What will drive success and failure in this new industry? Will it be tried and true business practices, or will there be another factor? It is likely that in Canada, a land known for our “quality bud”, the bar will be as high as the customers should inevitably be, but what happens when every store is selling the “best weed in the city”? 

The pressures that retail stores will face in being competitive will inevitably extend to growers, distributors, and other producers of combustibles & consumables. Could strategic partnerships between growers and retailers be the special sauce?

This is where immersive digital experiences and augmented reality (AR) come in!

These days it’s critical that brands offer digital experiences to their customers in order to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world. It is no longer enough to simply offer the newest, most powerful, or most efficient product. The brand experience – the story! – needs to be so engaging that the customer demands to write themselves into the narrative, and cannabis companies are no different.

With immersive technologies and AR, customers can visit their favourite cannabis retailer and have a face-to-face conversation with their budtender about what great new strains of cannabis have come in this week – even when they aren’t working in the store that day!

With AR, every surface in a retail store can be brought to life to enhance the customer experience. Imagine a grower being able to show the cleanliness of their grow rooms by letting customers step through a virtual portal using just a smart device and an internet connection!

What about art and NFTs?  There is huge potential in cannabis companies harnessing the incorporation of digital art.  The desire for digital assets is increasing, and companies are starting to catch on to the fact that digital items are just as valuable as things which can be touched and felt.  Could growers create NFTs for craft batches of cannabis?  Imagine a “Limited Edition” cannabis strain which includes an NFT as a proof of purchase.

This is truly an incredible time for cannabis, and a very important time for retailers and licensed producers alike.

The time to create the future for cannabis retail in Canada is now!

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