4 ways to optimize your dispensary waiting room

Amber Erickson | Head of Marketing at Seed Technology

Amber Erickson, Seed Technology

The dispensary waiting room is a huge part of the overall shopping experience. It’s your first impression.


Even if your store doesn’t run long waits, it’s still common for customers to spend time in your waiting room. In busy stores, the waiting room could be where customers spend the most time.


Your dispensary waiting room is your chance to put your brand on display. It needs to be nice, welcoming, comfortable, easy to navigate, and beautiful. It needs to send the message to customers that you are professional, you are a legitimate business, and you care about their satisfaction.


dispensary waiting room at Common Citizen in Michigan


Here’s a few ideas for how to optimize your waiting room.

Create a vibe

Retail is all about experience, and it’s no different for cannabis businesses.

Your dispensary waiting room look should encompass three things:


  1. Comfort – this could be the actual furniture, which is important, but is more than that. It’s about the colors and patterns and layout. Is it inviting? Do people feel comfortable walking over and finding a place to sit? Create an environment of safety and comfort.
  2. Cleanliness – perhaps a no-brainer, but your waiting room is the first impression new shoppers have of your store and brand. Not only should it be clean and sanitized, it should also be free of clutter. Receptionists should regularly attend to the cleanliness of the room, organize pamphlets, empty the trash, etc.
  3. Brand – the look and feel of the waiting room should signal to customers – usually not consciously – what they can expect from their shopping experience. At a minimum, the waiting room and bud room should have a similar aesthetic, including logo, colors, patterns, furniture style, etc. But there’s a ton of room for creativity in bringing your brand to life, drawing consumers into your values, and highlighting your “special sauce” as a brand to win loyalty.


The vibe of your dispensary waiting room is all about creating an experience for customers that is branded and unforgettable.

a modern, colorful dispensary waiting room is inviting

Create a flow

Your waiting room is your entrance … is it simple for customers to understand what they do or where they go once they walk in the door? 


This first moment is extremely important. Walking into a new experience can be stressful, especially in an already unfamiliar environment like dispensaries. Not only should they be immediately greeted by a friendly face, but the layout should signal where to go.


You can also use decor or other elements to signal the flow of the space, like velvet ropes, standing signage, or decals on the floor. 


The key to dispensary waiting room flow is efficiency. 


How can you simplify the waiting room process and speed up each step to more efficiently move customers through the store? 


  • Remove extra steps, both physical movement and layers of process
  • Optimize your staff resources
  • Use technology to streamline check-in

Tip: Be sure to also account for shoppers exiting through the waiting room!


If you can increase efficiency and flow, you will also start to decrease your wait times.

Create an experience

Your waiting room has many purposes, as discussed. But one important purpose that often goes overlooked is that your waiting room is part of the transaction.


Are you creating a welcoming space where customers are interacting with your brand and getting prepared for their purchase?


Your waiting room is the ideal place to use dispensary digital signage to start informing your customers of the brands you carry – especially your house brands – plus any current deals or promotions. 


dispensary waiting room with digital TV menu


If executed correctly, customers can explore your up-to-date product inventory, understand prices + discounts, and be ready to place their order once they get a budtender.


This not only makes for a pleasant experience for the shopper, but it increases your transactional velocity, meaning you can serve more customers, with the same staff, and shorter wait times.


How can you create an experience that prepares customers to place their order?


Strategically-placed TVs in the dispensary waiting room can serve to educate, inform, entertain, and inspire customers at the same time with:


  • Full digital menus with up-to-date inventory
  • Images of new or hot products
  • Videos of your brand to entertain, draw attention, and showcase who you are as a business
  • Current deals, discounts, or special offers
  • Information about upcoming events, with a QR code for tickets
  • Details about store loyalty programs and how to sign up


Tip! Make sure those comfortable chairs of yours are facing these screens!

Create a self-serve opportunity

Many shoppers don’t mind taking a seat for a few minutes while watching your TVs scroll through relevant and entertaining media.


But many would prefer to do something, especially if concerned about time.


If you regularly have a waiting list, consider adding dispensary self-service stations to your waiting room. Here’s how it could work:


  • Customer enters, gets checked-in as usual.
  • Receptionist informs the customer that they can step over to the touch-screen and follow the prompts to explore products, take a consultation quiz, and create their own cart. 
  • Customer takes a seat and waits for the budtender to call their name.
  • Customer enters bud room to find their already-packed order. All they have to do is pay, show ID again (if applicable), and be on their way.

To further optimize the self-serve process, you can treat those orders as an “express lane,” where customers who choose that path get called back to complete their transaction ahead of the traditional customers.


The idea is to reward those customers and make it ultra easy for them because they are making it easier on you and your team. 

Bonus ideas for your dispensary waiting room

  • Display branded merchandise, including T-shirts, lighters, etc. Consumers are more likely to ignore the non-cannabis products in the bud room. Putting them front and center in the waiting room gives customers something to do, while increasing your bottom line.
  • Offer refreshments like water, tea, or coffee. Some stores will even include pre-packaged snacks, especially in busy areas or new markets where lines can be long. Just be sure to check your state laws on offering food or beverages (it’s not legal in Colorado!).

Dispensary waiting room with comfortable seats and magazines


  • Create an educational opportunity. Especially in medical marijuana only markets, most consumers are new and learning as they go. Providing education can help ensure they have a safe, successful consumption experience. Pamphlets are common, but tend to look cluttered and quickly go out-of-date. Use technology to power tablets where customers can learn cannabis terms, understand consumption method pros and cons, and explore your specific inventory in the context of learning about terpenes, THC %, and more.
  • Extend the in-store experience outward. Many dispensary locations have limitations, but if you’re in a free-standing building where you have control over the parking lot experience, start here. Is the lot free of major potholes and garbage? Does it feel safe? Are parking spots clearly labeled? Is the sidewalk level and even between the lot and the door? Is the door clearly labeled? These factors all impact the experience cannabis consumers have while shopping with you.

The short version

First impressions matter. Optimize your dispensary waiting room to inform, inspire, and engage your customers.


  • Create a vibe – Your waiting room should be clean, comfortable, and a beautiful representation of your brand.
  • Create a flow – Make your waiting room more efficient by creating a flow to move people through seamlessly and effectively. Reduce wait times, while reducing shopper stress.
  • Create an experience – Make use of the time customers spend in your dispensary waiting room by starting the sales process. Allow them to engage with your brand and start making decisions about their order before they even hit the bud room.
  • Create a self serve opportunity – Allow customers to browse your current inventory and create their own cart from the comfort of the waiting room. Bonus: This becomes a fast-track option for them to be in and out quickly.

Seed Technology powers your dispensary waiting room TVs, interactive tablets, and self-ordering kiosks. Our transparent pricing includes unlimited screens so you can optimize every inch of your store. Learn more about how we can help you optimize your dispensary waiting room.

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