Introduction to Online Ordering for Dispensaries
Heads up, this article is a bit technical, but hang in there with us. We’re going to take you on a little journey into the minds of cannabis dispensary marketers that highlights why most dispensaries have online ordering for cannabis all wrong. The majority of cannabis dispensaries use online ordering menu solutions by third party providers like iHeartJane, Dutchie or Meadow. The way these third party menu providers make your online ordering or ecommerce solution possible is by way of an embedded iFrame on your website. Historically, this is the way online ordering for dispensaries has been done because it’s cheap and easy, but we'll further explain just what an Iframe is why this is a problem for the growth of your business. We'll also introduce the groundbreaking solution to drive traffic and revenue for dispensaries: native online ordering and ecommerce. In this article, we’ll address the solution and explain a much better way, the right way. Have no idea what any of this means or why it matters to your dispensary? Keep reading.
What Is An iFrame?
You’ve probably never heard of an iFrame, but you’ve definitely used them many times. Here’s a look at the guts of an iFrame dispensary menu in the photo above. The term is short for ‘inline frame’ which is a web development term. It makes it possible to insert an external webpage’s functionality into another website. For example, if want to embed a whole ecommerce dispensary menu on the ‘menu’ page of your website, an iFrame can do that in just seconds. It is usually just a few simple lines of code composed of a link from the iFrames host website embedded into yours. Simply plug in the lines of code from the third party iFrame provider’s website onto yours and boom – you’ve got a window into a whole world of functionality that comes to your website through the embedded iFrame. You didn’t have to do a thing but copy and paste the code onto the page of your website where you want it to appear. It’s so easy! It even comes with the styling all set for you from the iFrame’s provider.
iFrame Pros and Cons
With an iFrame, one thing you don’t have to worry about is security. When using an iFrame for ecommerce, the responsibility of the security of the user data falls on the provider of the iFrame. This reduces the risk of someone hacking your site and stealing any user or customer data, as that data lives on the iFrame's database, and not yours.
Software updates are a common occurrence in today’s tech driven lifestyle. With an iFrame ecommerce solution, you don’t do the updates. The host of the iFrame menu provider launches updates to it’s dispensary accounts and everybody gets the updates needed to run their sites. This is great if their version update is a good one, but it can be tragic if their version update is a bad one. Dispensary operators all have endless stories about those dastardly version updates that do more harm than good.
iFrames are notoriously irritable when it comes to mobile formatting and responsiveness. iFrames claim to be able to be resized, but when you try it across multiple devices and multiple browsers, there are almost always display issues and users reporting usability issues.
iFrames tend to look the same across all websites that use this form of ecommerce menu. Some iFrames will allow you to change the ‘theme color’ or maybe even add your own logo to it, but that’s about it. You can tell right away when you look at a dispensary’s menu if they are using the common ones like iHeartJane, Dutchie or Meadow. They basically have the same exact look across all their dispensary accounts. As a dispensary, once your online ordering looks the same and has the same user interface as your competitor down the street, you are left to compete solely on price. Not a solid strategy.
iFrames are invisible to search engines. Yes, that’s right. Red alert! Google it and read all about it. Search engines cannot see anything about an ecommerce store delivered by iFrame. This is purely the most destructive thing you can do for your SEO. It is actually the opposite of SEO, it is no SEO at all. Any SEO professional will advise you to avoid iFrames at all costs if you care about driving traffic and revenue to your business.
Where do you get leads from? It’s pay to play in the world of iFrames. They claim to be able to drive traffic to your business because they have a ton of web traffic and you’ll get a cut of it. The issue here is, your competitors will also get a cut of it. If a user goes to iHeartJane, Dutchie or Meadow seeking to buy some cannabis, they’ll be presented with your business right alongside your competitors, which dilutes your chances of making a sale.
With a iFrame solution, you have no control over the collection of user data. Want to collect some custom data about your customers? Sure, you can submit a support ticket with the iFrame menu provider asking them to change their entire platform for you because you want to collect some custom data about your users, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.
What Is Native Ecommerce?
Native ecommerce is like every awesome ecommerce experience you’ve ever had. You’ve shopped on Amazon. Say what you will about them, but how awesome is the digital experience? An example of a native ecommerce website in the cannabis industry is MedMen. Again, say what you will about them, but wow! That website is cutting edge, first class visual and user interface design. These are examples of native ecommerce menu solutions, meaning the entire user experience lives and breathes on your very own website. The experience is not outsourced to an iFrame menu provider. The beauty of this architecture to online ordering for dispensaries is contextual commerce. Google’s ranking algorithm now cares deeply about one thing – USERS. With a native ecommerce menu solution, everything about your users and their engagement signals are transmitted directly to Google – providing fuel to your SEO fire.
Where do we start? A native ecommerce menu solution is a breeding ground for SEO traffic. Products, categories, reviews, tags and many more unique characteristics of the products on your dispensary menu are prepared as clean, structured data easily crawl-able by Google’s search crawlers. Better yet, the user engagement signals of shoppers on your dispensary’s website are also clean, structured and available to Google’s crawlers. How does this benefit your dispensary? Users searching for branded search queries in your area are able to see products and product categories on your ecommerce menu in search results. Then, they click on them and order right from your online menu for pickup or delivery. Drive traffic and revenue by placing your dispensary’s product offering right in Google search results. This is why you see high profile dispensary groups like MedMen and Caliva, using custom built, native solutions.
Know everything about your users all the way from the moment they go to Google to search for cannabis products or dispensaries, to finally clicking the 'place order' button. At Tymber, we track over 40 unique metrics about your users search queries to find your business, click through rates from those searches to your website, and revenue transactional data. Track users that find products in search results on your dispensary menu and then track the exact ROI driven on those search results.
Styling and Branding
With a native ecommerce menu you can customize the look and feel of your menu as you please. This allows you to take full control of your brand design, voice and user interface. This keeps you unique and vibrant alongside your competitor who is likely using an iFrame solution to power their dispensary menu.
Contextual Product Placement
Ever tried to link to a product on a dispensary menu and not been able to do it? That’s what happens if the dispensary is using an iFrame solution – you can’t. With a native ecommerce menu, you can link to products or product categories like flower, vape, edibles, whichever you choose, beautifully. You can even pull products from your menu and highlight them on the home page or in a blog with an add to cart button right there, contextually within your well designed content to give users the best experience possible.
Behaviorally Triggered Emails
One of the best features a native ecommerce solution offers is the ability to track user behavior and retarget them with automated email campaigns based on user behavior. If a user abandons their shopping cart at the last second, hit em up with an email and find out why automatically with a follow up email. Someone hasn’t shopped in 90 days? Send em a coupon or a discount code and invite them back. Now that’s slick!
Native ecommerce has to be installed on your website and pages, like the cart and checkout page, have to be built, which takes a little bit of work to configure. Setting up a native ecommerce solution can be a tricky install, but once it’s set up, there are many benefits.
Page load speed has long been a headache for websites with a native ecommerce architecture. There’s no denying, it is a complex architecture that is loading a ton of feature-rich data for users, which takes time. Typically a few seconds, but seconds matter to users. Take an extra second to load and users might close the page and go somewhere else. At Tymber, we’ve developed a custom speed enhancement solution that can actually make a native ecommerce solution speedy.
iFrame vs Native Online Ordering For Dispensaries Conclusion
Long story short, if you are using an iFrame to power online ordering for your dispensary, you leave money on the table every day. Still not convinced? Check out Tymber's ROI calculator to see how much you could be leaving on the table. Want to schedule a demo to see Tymber’s native ecommerce platform? Hit us up.