Photo by Alex Lysabowski

2020 was certainly a year of a lot of – well, uncertainty. The past year wasn’t easy to navigate, from businesses halting day-to-day operations to others pivoting to offer different services or products.

But here comes the sun, shining on the horizon! 2021 has so far seen parts of the world reopening and many businesses getting back into the swing of things.

As we maneuver through this new year, businesses are safely and confidently opening the doors of their physical stores again.

🛠️ Bring your business from online to IRL

There’s good reason to think about opening your brand’s physical store to better meet the demands of customers who prefer shopping in person. 84% of consumers agree that the experience a company provides is just as important as its products and services.

Despite all the pauses that we’ve undergone, the physical storefront and in-person shopping won’t be a thing of the past. 93% of Americans still consistently shopped in-store for essential items and other purchases last year, and most are now more comfortable shopping in-person.

💭 The brick-in-mortar store, reimagined

Physical stores did undergo a bit of a transformation over the past year to comply with ever-evolving safety regulations and guidelines. Experiential shopping, like receiving samples or interacting with a product before purchasing, had been dearly missed in 2020. But with the right strategy, brick-and-mortar stores can ensure safe shopping without taking away any of the fun of in-person experiences.

Businesses are prioritizing their services to provide unforgettable experiences aiming to bring back customers’ serendipity – that feeling when a product or experience is unexpectedly positive – in responsible ways.

It’s also true that brick-and-mortar stores can coexist with ecommerce. For example, introducing Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store (BOPIS) – a safe, popular checkout choice – and promoting in-person store experiences on social media are significant considerations for giving customers an above and beyond shopping experience.

There’s a balance to be struck to ensure your business’s success in both the digital and physical spaces. Not sure where to start? We’ve got the foundations all set for you in this post!

🏬 Here’s a blueprint for your business’s brick-and-mortar

Crafting an engaging in-person shopping experience can be done successfully and safely. But you might be wondering, what should be considered before physical doors are opened?

We chatted with Drummond Monro, co-founder of the cannabis retailer and lifestyle brand Superette, on how they responsibly opened a brick-and-mortar location during one of Canada’s lockdowns. Superette is known for its ultra-cool branding, superb customer experience, and uniquely interactive physical stores. Going ahead with a grand opening during a national lockdown was a challenge for the team and a triumph for creating a standout shopping experience.

Q&A with Drummond Munro, Co-Founder of Superette

Photo by Alex Lysabowski. Drummond Munro co-founded Superette with Mimi Lam in 2018. With Superette, Munro and Lam wanted to create a cannabis business that thrives on personal connections and providing positive experiences between brand and customers. As the nation underwent a prolonged lockdown, Superette most recently opened a brick-and-mortar store in Toronto, Canada. Munro and the Superette team tackled the challenges that came with safely opening a store while making the shopping experience for customers as enjoyable as possible.

At Superette, what do you believe makes for a memorable in-store experience?

Any moment that you think about well after leaving the store. I think retailers often strive for two things: a beautifully designed store or customer service, but there can be so much more than these and combinations that surprise and delight. This is what we strive to do at Superette, putting smiles on our customers' faces through the unexpected.

Photo by Alex Lysabowski

What were some of the local restrictions and rules you faced with opening stores during the lockdown, and how did you problem-solve and overcome them?

Toronto had one of the longest on-going stay-at-home lockdown orders in the world. We weren’t considered essential retail, so we couldn’t open our doors, which provided a unique challenge. As a brand whose emphasis is on an immersive in-store experience, this is not ideal. The opportunity became, how do we bring the Superette experience to the digital realm? That provided plenty of new ways to connect with our customers.

Photo by Alex Lysabowski

What was the most challenging aspect of opening your latest stores during this lockdown?

Constant ambiguity. Small businesses were not set up for success with the influx of government rules and regulations changing at the drop of a hat. We would be told one thing, and then as a result of rising Covid-19 cases or some other factor, we would end up taking five steps back.

How do you bring your in-store experience through to the curbside pick-up experience?

We have always looked at the “ID check” as part of the in-store experience and customer journey and therefore have always kept this in mind with design, so thankfully, the majority of our stores have a unique entrance in the first place that allows for some experience in general. In other scenarios, we would try and mimic the in-store experience to the best of our ability through visual merchandising and other unique elements.

Photo by Alex Lysabowski

What are some ways that businesses can ensure they’re creating a safe and comfortable space for customers in-store while still maintaining their branding?

We all want to be safe and respect Covid-19 protocol, so it’s really just assessing how these elements play into consumer behavior and where it makes sense. We make sure to have proper signage everywhere and always make sure the customer is comfortable. We want to strive for normalcy, but some consumer behavior has changed, and it's just important to recognize that.

Photo by Alex Lysabowski

Social media plays a huge role in delivering updates, store announcements, and more to connect with customers online, and we love how Superette does this all in its signature style. What are your tips for businesses who are finding their voice on social media, and how can they better encourage people to visit them in-store as well as online?

Superette’s voice is playful, cheeky, and always friendly. Our audience are our buds, and we want them to feel like they’re part of the family when they engage with us. If you’re trying to find your voice, think of brands you enjoy engaging with and how you would want them to communicate with you.

We just launched a new feature on our site that allows customers to ask questions in real-time with our budtenders. This encourages people to go online, learn about new products, and get all their questions answered as if they were in-store. We also offer immersive in-store experiences that make shopping fun. We love when customers come, even if they don’t buy anything, because they appreciate the shop so much.

Photo by Alex Lysabowski

What is something that Superette has adopted during the pandemic that you will continue to do in the future?

Recognizing the importance of a consistent omnichannel experience. We really used this time to build up our digital to a point where it could mirror the in-store experience. From integrating a virtual budtender (aka Bud Bot) on our website to creating our Superette News emails, these are all touching points we’ll continue to utilize post-pandemic.

What are your top tips for businesses who are looking to open a brick-and-mortar store in a post-pandemic world?

Understanding the importance of seamless online and offline experiences – flexibility is key. Don’t just focus on the in-store experience; ensure you’re spending as much time investing in the digital aspect of your business. Utilize different channels to attract a variety of customers – Instagram is great, but using TikTok and Pinterest drive audience engagement significantly.

Photo by Alex Lysabowski

🎁 Wrapping it up

Munro and the Superette team are slaying the experiential shopping game, both in-store and online, and we can’t wait to see more of their brick-and-mortar stores as we venture into a post-pandemic world. Take a page from their book on what to consider when opening a physical store, and go ahead with up-leveling your customers’ shopping experience keeping tips in mind!

Follow Superette on Instagram, and check out their rad website to shop merchandise or peek at their open locations!

Need an extra hand in upgrading your business, from marketing to packaging and more? Take a look at our Biz Advice guides on The Wrap!