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Lost in the Haze? Here's How We Build a Stellar Cannabis Store Product Hierarchy

Lost in the Haze? Here's How We Build a Stellar Cannabis Store Product Hierarchy

inventory Jun 17, 2024

Imagine stepping into a cannabis store, eager to explore the world of relaxation and potential pain relief. But instead of being greeted by a welcoming atmosphere, you're met with a labyrinth of shelves overflowing with mysterious products and cryptic labels. 

Discouragement sets in – where do you even begin? Then confusion sets in, and unfortunately, it’s the reality for far too many customers trying to navigate poorly organized cannabis stores and online shops.

The good news is that a well-defined cannabis product hierarchy can transform a confusing experience into a smooth and satisfying journey. 

A cannabis product hierarchy is the invisible map that guides customers to the products they seek, supporting a positive shopping experience and boosting sales for your business. 

When shopping online, customers look for ease of navigation and want to know what the online shop may specialize in. In stores, wayfinding or store navigation is also important. Categorization leads to merchandising opportunities, cross-selling, and promotions.

Here's why product categorization is the quiet hero every cannabis dispensary owner needs and the steps you need to build one that elevates your brand.

The Power of Product Hierarchy: A Shared Victory

You’ve heard us talk about the paradox of choice and this is no different. A cannabis store overflowing with products might seem like a paradise for some, but the reality is it overwhelms the majority of customers. 

Product hierarchy is the antidote to this chaos. 

This invisible filing system groups similar products together based on their attributes. Think of it as the difference between searching through a messy drawer full of clothes and having everything neatly folded and categorized in clear bins. 

Here's how a well-defined product hierarchy benefits both your business and your customers:

  • Customer Satisfaction: When customers can easily find the products they're looking for, frustration eases, leading to a more enjoyable shopping experience. They can explore new options within familiar categories, boosting confidence which leads to trust and eventually loyalty.
  • Increased Sales: Let's face it, a confused customer is less likely to make a purchase. A clear hierarchy removes this barrier, allowing customers to browse efficiently and discover products that meet their needs.
  • Operational Efficiency: Imagine your budtenders effortlessly locating inventory or your managers generating accurate reports. A well-organized product structure is the base for operational efficiency, saving valuable time and resources.
  • Data Harmony: Product hierarchy forms the foundation for consistent product information across various systems, streamlining data management and analysis. This paves the way for better decision-making and targeted marketing strategies.

Building Your Product Hierarchy: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ready to create a product hierarchy that elevates your cannabis store from a confusing maze to a customer sanctuary? Let's break down the process into manageable steps:

Step 1: Embrace the Big Picture

Before diving into specific categories, consider your overall product assortment. What types of cannabis products do you offer? Are there any unique selling points that differentiate you from competitors? This foundational understanding will guide your categorization choices.

Step 2: Establish the Pillars – Main Categories

These are the broad strokes that define your product offerings. Here are some common examples for cannabis stores:

  • Flower: The foundation of many cannabis experiences, flower can be further categorized by strain type (Indica, Sativa, Hybrid) or potency (THC/CBD levels).
  • Pre-Rolls: Pre-rolls offer convenience and consistency. Categorize them based on strain type, infusion (THC-only or CBD-infused), or quantity (single or multi-packs).
  • Concentrates: Concentrates like wax, shatter, and budder offer potent experiences. Subcategorize them by extraction method (BHO, CO2), strain type, or potency.
  • Vapes: Pre-filled cartridges that contain a cannabis-infused oil or other concentrate. Typically sold in half-gram or gram increments, loved for their potency and flavor.
  • Edibles: Edibles provide a delicious and long-lasting high. Categorize them by product type (gummies, chocolates, baked goods), strain type, or dosage (THC/CBD content).
  • Topicals: Topicals offer localized relief. Subcategorize them by product type (lotions, salves, patches), target area (pain, muscle tension), or active ingredients (THC, CBD, menthol).
  • Accessories: Remember all the extras! Categorize accessories by function (grinders, rolling papers, lighters) or brand.


Step 3: Refine with Subcategories

Now that you have the central pillars, you can go deeper. Each category can be further segmented based on specific attributes. Here are some examples:

  • Flower: Subcategorize by specific strain names (OG Kush, Blue Dream), potency levels (High THC, Balanced, High CBD), or cultivation methods (Indoor, Outdoor, Greenhouse).
  • Concentrates: Subcategorize by specific types of concentrates (budder, shatter, rosin), terpene profiles (citrusy, earthy, floral), or brand names.
  • Edibles: Subcategorize by dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten-free), dosage levels (low, medium, high), or flavor profiles (chocolate chip cookie, watermelon gummy).

Step 4: Embrace the Power of Attributes

Beyond categories and subcategories, consider incorporating additional attributes to refine product discovery further.

Imagine browsing edibles by "sweet" or "savory" flavor profiles or searching for a flower based on desired effects ("relaxing" or "uplifting"). Utilizing additional attributes like these allows customers to refine their search more precisely, leading to a more personalized shopping experience.

Step 5: Maintaining the Hierarchy 

Building a product hierarchy is an ongoing process. As your product offerings evolve, so too should your categorization scheme. Here are some tips for maintaining a dynamic and effective hierarchy:

  • Regular Reviews: Schedule reviews to assess the effectiveness of your categories and subcategories. Are they still relevant to your current product selection? Do they accurately reflect customer needs and buying behavior?
  • Customer Feedback: Gather customer input through surveys, website analytics, or face-to-face interactions. Understanding customer pain points and how they navigate your product selection can reveal areas for improvement in your categorization scheme.
  • Data Analysis: Don't underestimate the power of data. Analyze sales trends, website search terms, and click-through rates to identify potential gaps or inconsistencies in your product hierarchy.

Need help visualizing it? Use this handy reference: 

Product Hierarchy vs. Taxonomy: Partners in Clarity

You might hear the terms "product hierarchy" and "taxonomy" used interchangeably, and there's some truth to that. They work together to organize your cannabis products effectively. Here's a breakdown of their fundamental differences:

  • Product Hierarchy: This is the structure, the "funnel" that organizes products from broad categories (think "Flower") to more specific subcategories (like "Indica Flower" or "Sativa Pre-Rolls"). It helps with data capture and analysis, allowing you to understand sales trends and product performance at different levels.
  • Taxonomy: This focuses on the "naming conventions" within your hierarchy. It's about using clear, consistent terms to describe products so customers understand what they're buying. For example, instead of just "Concentrates," using "Distillate Jar" within the Concentrates category clarifies the product type and consumption method.

Think of it like this: the hierarchy is the filing cabinet, with clear labels on each drawer. Taxonomy ensures those labels are accurate and easy to understand for everyone. Both are crucial for a well-organized and user-friendly cannabis store or online shop.

Why Product Categorization in Your Cannabis Dispensary So Important?

Intuitive Shopping Experience: Clear categories and subcategories act as a map, guiding customers to the products they seek. No more wandering through a confusing maze – they'll feel confident navigating your selection, leading to a more enjoyable shopping experience.

Improved Product Findability: Customers shouldn't need a decoder ring to understand your product listings. Well-defined categories and consistent naming conventions make it easy for them to find the specific products they're interested in, saving them time and frustration. This translates into increased sales conversions.

Increased Sales Conversions: When customers can easily find the products they want, they're more likely to make a purchase. Effective product categorization removes a major barrier to conversion, leading to a boost in your bottom line.

Operational Efficiency: A well-organized product hierarchy isn't just good for customers – it streamlines internal operations. Staff will spend less time searching for inventory or answering product-related questions, freeing them up to focus on customer service and other tasks.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Want your online cannabis store to rank higher in search results? Effective product categorization with relevant keywords plays a crucial role in SEO. Using clear and consistent terms throughout your website and product listings increases the chances of your store being discovered by potential customers searching for specific products.

Steps to Perfecting Product Categorization

A well-defined strategy is the foundation for a perfect product categorization system. Here's a breakdown of the key steps:

Laying the Groundwork

  • Step 1: Data—Your Information Arsenal: Identify all sources of product information, from manufacturer descriptions to internal testing results. It is crucial to have a centralized location for this data. Consider using a Product Information Management (PIM) system to streamline data storage and access. Data governance ensures the accuracy and consistency of this information, leading to better categorization decisions.
  • Step 2: Centralize and Analyze: Gather all your product data and centralize it in a single location. This centralized view allows you to visualize product attributes (like THC content or strain type) and identify potential inconsistencies in your product information. Establishing clear formatting standards for product data upfront helps avoid future headaches.

Building the Hierarchy: From Broad to Specific

  • Step 3: Categorization Magic: Create categories based on your product attributes. Imagine a hierarchy with broad categories at the top (think "Flower" or "Edibles") that then branch out into more specific subcategories (like "Indica Flower" or "Chocolate Edibles"). Hierarchical levels like Need, Family, Class, Line, Type, and Unit can provide a framework, but feel free to adapt it to your specific product range.

Complexity Considerations: As your product line expands, consider how to handle complex products. Break them down into subcategories based on relevant attributes, ensuring clear and concise naming conventions.

Naming Tips:

  • Keywords are King: Use relevant product keywords in your category names to improve searchability for both customers and search engines.
  • Learn from the Best: Find inspiration from established cannabis retailers and see how they categorize their products.
  • Refine and Repeat: Don't be afraid to test and refine your category names based on customer feedback and website analytics. A/B testing different naming options can help you identify the most user-friendly approach.

By following these steps and continuously refining your product hierarchy, you'll create a system that empowers both your customers and your business.

Keeping Your Hierarchy Sharp: Continuous Improvement is Key

Product categorization isn't a "set it and forget it" exercise. It's an ongoing journey. Here's how to ensure your hierarchy remains dynamic and effective:

The Iterative Advantage:

Remember, your product offerings and customer base will evolve over time. The key is to embrace an iterative approach to your product hierarchy. Review and assess its effectiveness regularly and adapt it as needed.

Data-Driven Decisions:

Don't underestimate the power of data. Analyze website analytics, sales trends, and customer behavior data to identify potential areas for improvement. For instance, high bounce rates on a particular category might indicate a need for further subcategories or more explicit naming conventions.

A/B Testing for Optimization:

A/B testing lets you compare different versions of your product hierarchy to see which one performs better. This could involve testing different category names, layouts, or subcategories. You can continuously refine your product hierarchy by using data-driven insights and A/B testing, ensuring a smooth and satisfying customer journey.

Scaling Your Product Hierarchy (Growth and Flexibility):

As your business grows and your product line expands, you'll need to adapt your product hierarchy to accommodate this complexity. Here's how:

  • Reorganizing Categories: You may need to shuffle categories or subcategories over time to maintain a logical flow. This might involve merging categories, splitting them into subcategories, or even creating entirely new categories for new product lines.
  • Condensing Categories: As your product offering expands, managing a complex hierarchy can become cumbersome. Consider consolidating subcategories or merging similar products to ensure a user-friendly experience.

The key is maintaining consistency with your original naming conventions and organizational principles.

Building a Hierarchy for Success

A well-defined product hierarchy is an essential ingredient for a thriving cannabis store. It lays the foundation for a positive customer experience, boosts sales, and streamlines internal operations. 

Remember, this is an ongoing process. 

By embracing a data-driven approach, incorporating customer feedback, and adapting to growth, you can cultivate a product hierarchy that elevates your cannabis store and keeps customers coming back for more.

For all cannabis store owners, the message is clear: Invest time and effort in building a well-structured product hierarchy. It's a smart investment that will pay dividends for your business through happy customers and increased sales.

Ready to take your product categorization to the next level? 

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