From Retail to Cannabis: 7 Transferrable Skills for Success

Jul 28, 2023

Making the switch from retail to cannabis can be a great career move, especially because of the growth opportunities. If you are thinking of transitioning, many of the skills that you learned while working in retail, will come in handy while working in cannabis. 


As you gear up for your career change, let's explore seven ways your retail industry experience can help you thrive in the cannabis industry:

Customer Service Skills

If you developed excellent customer service skills while working in retail, then you have what it takes to serve in the cannabis industry. Attentiveness to customer needs, patience, problem-solving and effective communication, are skills associated with top customer service professionals. Regardless of where you work, it is important to make sure that your customers have a positive shopping experience and feel supported.

In some places, cannabis is only sold for medicinal purposes. This makes your customer service skills in high demand because it takes a special touch to work with those that are sick or in need. When working in such a health-conscious environment, your people skills will come in handy.


Cash Handling Skills

Traditionally, cannabis has been a cash-only industry but now, customers can utilize credit cards, gift cards and even crypto-currency to buy their favorite goodies. Being able to count money quickly and accurately are essential skills for this industry. In addition, maintaining a positive history of working with money in a retail setting shows that you are trustworthy, which is something all employers want to see.

Finally, working in retail will require you to learn different POS software and technology to process transactions. Knowing how to use a computer or tablet will help you go far when working at the register. 


Product Knowledge

If you've ever had to explain the difference between almond milk and oat milk, or jeggings and leggings, we're confident you'll get the hang of the nuances in cannabis too! It is likely that you developed a good understanding of the products you were selling while working in retail. Since the average retail shop doesn't sell weed, it is not expected for you to know everything about cannabis. However, the ability to learn and deliver product knowledge to confused customers will be essential to working in the cannabis industry.


Sales Skills

Mastering product knowledge and sales skills go hand in hand, so If your previous retail experience gave you the gift of the gab, you'll fit right in with the cannabis industry. A large part of the cannabis business is having fun while exploring new products and new strains. You should be able to upsell to customers and encourage them to buy items they may not have considered before.


Organization and Time Management Skills

Cannabis gets a bad rep for making everything go slower. But just like any other job, while working in this industry, your time management skills need to be on point. In a dispensary, it is likely you will be tasked with greeting and handling a high volume of customers, while re-stocking inventory and learning products. You should be able to stay calm under pressure and keep track of what needs to be done.

Being organized is key as you’ll need to keep track of a lot of different products. The organization will help you stay on top of things and make sure customers can find what they need. This is essential for helping new or inexperienced customers, that will be relying on your guidance for their first-ever cannabis buy.


Ability to Learn New Things

There is a myth that in order to do well in cannabis, you must be a huge stoner, which is not true. The cannabis industry is constantly evolving so if you’re good at picking up new information, you have the opportunity to stand out amongst other candidates and employees. 


Flexibility and Willingness to Work Hard

Retail workers are some of the most over-worked, underappreciated employees in the market, so if you want to take your hard work where it will be appreciated, a move to the cannabis industry could be perfect.

Since cannabis is a relatively new market, you should be flexible and willing to work hard to master new skills. Flexibility is imperative because the hours can be long and unpredictable. Additionally, you may need to work weekends, traditional holidays, and cannabis holidays like 420. Likewise, you should also be prepared for the occasional slow day.

Luckily, most retail jobs already follow this unusual pattern, so you'll be used to it.

The cannabis industry can be challenging at times but you already have the skills to be successful because of your time working in retail. Transitioning into cannabis will have a learning curve and may require some hard work, but, if you are dedicated to your job, you will be rewarded with a fulfilling career. 


Let’s get to work!


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