An overview of E-commerce options for cannabis dispensaries in 2024 and beyond
The term cannabis ecommerce has been widely misleading for the last decade when it comes to the marijuana industry. While there have been a number of large point of sale and online menu companies offering ecommerce to dispensaries, the lackluster integration and performance has become more obvious.
iFrames overall are terrible for both local searches and product SEO. The other option beyond an iFrame is often being forced to use your menu companies URL for your shop instead of your own. All this does is help them rank for your products instead of you getting that website traffic.
Compared to the hemp industry that can ship across the country, cannabis dispensaries have been sold an inferior product and told that it was gold.
Native Ecommerce VS iFrames and Subdomain Menus for Cannabis Dispensaries
If you don’t already know what an iFrame is, let us tell you. An iFrame is when you import or embed someone else’s website onto yours. You lose ALL SEO benefits from an iFrame and even Google says that.
Are iFrames good for SEO for cannabis dispensaries?
“According to Google Search Central (straight from the horse’s mouth from the folks at Google), the use of iFrame content is not at all recommended. In fact, Google says – in no uncertain terms – that “We recommend that you avoid the use of iFrame’s to display content”.
“Using iFrames to duplicate content on a webpage can be detrimental to technical SEO, particularly for contextual anchor links, which are links that are relevant to the content on your page and provide additional context and value to the reader.”
IFrames also can lead to a number of security risks for cannabis dispensaries:
“What security risks do iFrames bring? The main security threat of iFrames is XSS (cross-site scripting) attacks. Attackers can perform XSS attacks in multiple ways. For example, changing the source site URL, installing malware, stealing information, or hijacking clicks and keystrokes through an iFrame.”
The most popular platforms like Dutchie and Jane are pretty much an iFrame only menu platform, unless you choose to pay one of their preferred web design partners to integrate your menu “natively” into your website (that you don’t own) for a couple thousand dollars a month. You can read more about that in another post… it’s personally the worst option you can choose.
The only other way to operate with an iFrame only option is to send all of your website visitors to their website URL with your endpoint. This option allows them the benefit of ranking for all of your products… and you pay them for it.
Compared to the other options, your iFrame menu is our least favorite option. You are essentially stuck with ranking for your brand.
Are subdomain menus good for SEO for cannabis dispensaries?
A good example of a subdomain is when you add an add on to the beginning or end of your website URL. A good example would be https://blog.plainjane.com vs https://plainjane.com. When Plain Jane was first launched, it was built on BigCommerce and BG is not a good resource for blogs, so we created a subdomain on WordPress for the blog. This allowed us to publish hundreds of articles that ranked.
A subdomain menu is better than an iFrame, as long as it is set up the right way. You are essentially managing 2 sites now and you may or may not have to iFrame in your own menu onto your main site if you want to show products.
If you set it up right to index properly, a subdomain is a smart way to operate your online menu and at least keep all the visitors on your website.
Native Ecommerce for Cannabis Dispensaries
There is nothing new about “native ecom” when it comes to ecommerce. This simply means that your website menu operates natively like any other online store or shop. You favorite tshirt, apparel or CBD/ hemp website has a native ecom menu, just like 99% of the stores online. It’s really just classic ecommerce, which has magically sold as impossible for the cannabis industry.
Native ecommerce for dispensaries means that you have all of your products and inventory on your website and that Google credits your website with the SEO benefit.
From an SEO standpoint, native ecommerce is the best option for SEO. This goes for both local and product SEO.
If someone is actually searching for a specific strain in their general area, you can show up.
In fact, there are sites dedicated 100% to doing strain reviews and where to find them that get over 100,000 visitors a month.
The Benefits of Native Ecommerce Menus for Marijuana Dispensaries
Native Ecom is by far the best option for cannabis dispensary owners for a number of reasons. Choosing the right approach for presenting an online store’s menu is crucial for ensuring a seamless and user-friendly shopping experience. Let’s delve into the reasons why a native e-commerce menu outshines an iframe menu, backed by references to substantiate the advantages.
Here is a list of reasons for the superiority of Native E-commerce Menus Over Iframe Menus:
Page Load Speed:
- Native E-commerce Menu: Native menus are integrated directly into the website, resulting in faster page load times, contributing to an improved user experience.
- Reference: Google PageSpeed Insights
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- Native E-commerce Menu: A natively integrated menu allows search engines to crawl and index menu content, positively impacting the website’s SEO.
- Reference: Yoast SEO
- Native E-commerce Menu: Native menus are inherently designed to be responsive, ensuring optimal user experience across various devices.
- Reference: Responsive Web Design
- Native E-commerce Menu: Native menus provide better accessibility features, catering to users with disabilities and ensuring compliance with accessibility standards.
- Reference: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)
- Native E-commerce Menu: Native menus seamlessly blend with the overall website design, contributing to consistent branding and a cohesive visual identity.
- Reference: Nielsen Norman Group – Consistency in Design
- Native E-commerce Menu: Direct integration enhances security by minimizing potential vulnerabilities associated with external iframe sources.
- Reference: OWASP – Top Ten Web Application Security Risks
Improved Analytics Tracking:
- Native E-commerce Menu: Native integration facilitates more accurate tracking of user interactions and behavior through analytics tools.
- Reference: Google Analytics
Customization and Flexibility:
- Native E-commerce Menu: Native menus offer greater flexibility for customization, allowing businesses to tailor the menu to their unique branding and functional requirements.
- Reference: E-commerce Customization Strategies
The decision between a native e-commerce menu and an iframe menu holds significant implications for the success of an online store. The advantages of a native menu, from faster page load times to improved SEO and enhanced security, underscore the importance of choosing a seamlessly integrated solution. By prioritizing user experience, accessibility, and brand consistency, businesses can leverage the benefits of native e-commerce menus to create a compelling and trustworthy online shopping environment.
The Best Options for Native Ecommerce for Marijuana Dispensaries
Right now there are only a few native ecommerce options on the market for dispensaries that care about SEO.
Tymber was the first native eCommerce platform that was widely available for dispensaries, and the company continues to enhance its products. Additionally, they provide the ability to add individualized text to product category sites, in addition to offering various personalization options.
A lot of people are paying attention to Dispense because it is a native eCommerce platform. Additionally, in order to differentiate themselves from cannabis marketplaces and iframe menus, they are in the process of developing a solution that is centered on the store. They emphasize the advantages that they have over marketplaces and other providers of iframe menus in terms of search engine optimization and data protection.
In the ever-evolving landscape of cannabis retail, a seamless and efficient online presence is essential. Bud Plug, an innovative suite of plugins tailored for cannabis dispensaries, stands out by offering native e-commerce functionality and a myriad of other features to enhance the overall dispensary experience.
The Reasons We Prefer Bud Plug Dispensary Plugins
For one, we helped build it… but here are a few more reasons.
Native E-commerce Integration:
At the heart of Bud Plug’s offerings is the seamless integration of native e-commerce functionality. Unlike iframe menus, Bud Plug’s native e-commerce menus are directly embedded into the dispensary’s website. This integration ensures faster page load times, contributing to an optimal user experience. With a focus on responsiveness and user accessibility, Bud Plug’s native e-commerce menus adapt seamlessly to various devices, providing a consistent and user-friendly interface.
Enhanced Security Measures:
The Plugins by Bud Plug prioritizes the security of cannabis dispensaries by minimizing potential vulnerabilities associated with external iframe sources. Direct integration enhances the overall security of the online store, instilling confidence in both customers and dispensary owners. By adhering to industry-leading security practices, Bud Plug ensures a secure and reliable online shopping environment for cannabis enthusiasts.
Robust Customization and Flexibility:
Bud Plug recognizes the unique branding and functional requirements of each dispensary. The suite of plugins offers unparalleled customization and flexibility, allowing dispensaries to tailor their online presence to reflect their brand identity. From customizing menus to incorporating brand-specific design elements, Bud Plug empowers dispensaries to create a distinct and memorable online presence.
Comprehensive Analytics Tracking:
Understanding customer behavior and interactions is crucial for dispensaries aiming to optimize their operations. Bud Plug’s comprehensive analytics tracking goes beyond standard metrics. Dispensary owners can gain insights into user behavior, preferences, and trends, enabling data-driven decision-making. By leveraging Bud Plug’s analytics tools, dispensaries can refine their strategies and better cater to their customer base.
Beyond native e-commerce integration, Bud Plug offers a range of additional features tailored for cannabis dispensaries. These include Bud Runner, facilitating cannabis delivery with live tracking and customer communication, and AI-driven compliant product descriptions, ensuring accurate and compliant product information.
Bud Plug’s Dispensary Plugins redefine the online presence of cannabis dispensaries by providing native e-commerce integration, enhanced security, robust customization options, and comprehensive analytics tracking. Dispensary owners looking to elevate their digital storefronts and provide customers with an unparalleled online shopping experience can trust Bud Plug to deliver innovative solutions tailored for the cannabis retail space.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis Ecommerce
As more dispensaries open up, the need for good SEO will become more obvious. While the bigger players with large budgets might have made a ton of money as early adopters, smart dispensary owners will wake up and realize that their iFrame menus are actually hurting their business.