Whether you just got your cannabis license and are opening a new dispensary or are just fed up with your old POS system, finding a new one is no easy task. The landscape for dispensary POS software providers has drastically changed in recent years. It’s increasingly competitive and there are more options than ever.
While some of the early systems continue to maintain a foothold, they are not necessarily the most reliable or use the most advanced technology available. Maintaining the status quo is simply not enough in a quickly moving space like cannabis, and old systems can eventually lead to performance issues, down time, and potentially even compliance violations.
There are so many factors to consider when selecting the right POS system for your dispensary, but we’ve distilled them down to these TOP FIVE CONSIDERATIONS.
1 - Track-and-Trace Compliance
Legal cannabis means regulated cannabis and regulated means you must remain compliant or lose your cannabis license. Most dispensary POS systems have integrations with the most common state selected track-and-trace system Metrc, like in California. But Metrc is not the only system, and it is important that your POS system integrates with multiple track-and-trace systems if your company operates or intends to operate in multiple states. These integrations automate the reporting process which is essential for streamlining your business.
However, reporting is not the only element of compliance that POS systems support. Enforcing customer and patient purchase limits is another huge piece of the compliance puzzle. A recent change in Colorado’s patient purchase limits that went into effect January 1st, 2022 caught many POS providers by surprise leaving retailer with no clear solution for the interim. During the demo process be sure to inquire about these details that can be easily overlooked.
Another important compliance feature is age verification. It is a pretty standard item in cannabis-specific POS systems, but not every system does it the same way. Ask about the check-in workflow and what types of identification the system supports. Some only support driver licenses, whereas others can validate passports, and military ID.
2 - Cannabis Software Integrations
Some dispensary POS systems claim to be an all-in-one solution while others claim to be best-in-class. So what’s the difference? All-in-one often comes with some functionality for customer loyalty programs, SMS, analytics, e-commerce, and more. While this may seem like an attractive proposition, the system is a jack of all trades and master of none. Best-in-class POS solutions focus on improving what they do best, POS and compliance, and offer integrations with other software solutions. When switching POS systems, you should make sure your new system is compatible with your already integrated suite of software.
The more integrations your POS provider offers, the more options you have to customize your tech stack. It never hurts to ask your cannabis POS provider which integration they recommend for different services. Sometimes you can leverage a deal by signing up for your POS and a 3rd party integrator at once. This allows you to take advantage of better pricing and feel confident that you will have a stable integration.
3 - Inventory Management
Having the right inventory for your customer base can be the difference between running a profitable dispensary or going out of business with a stockroom full of unsold products. The right POS system can help you optimize your inventory, but there are some key functions to consider.
When it comes to inventory management, you want to evaluate how time consuming it is to add new inventory and audit current levels. This can reduce or increase your labor costs significantly, so it is critical to have a solid understanding of this before committing to a POS provider.
Ask about low stock alerts, inventory transfers, inventory adjustments, expiration alerts, and purchase orders. These are essential to efficiently managing your inventory. Remember, data should drive your decision making when it comes to ordering new inventory. Ensure the cannabis POS your considering offers accurate data on which products are most popular, what categories are seeing growth, and where you can maximize your profit margins.
Create a check list of these items that you can check off during your POS system demo.
4 - Dispensary Discounts and Promotions
One of the biggest factors in bringing in new customers and keeping current ones is your strategy for discounts and promotions. With so many types of promotions and discounts, you need a POS system with a robust promotions engine that can automate redemption at checkout. Having the ability to preset your discounts will reduce transaction times and improve the customer experience.
There are some popular promotions that you’ll want to make sure your POS supports, including BOGO offers, product and cart discounts, and product bundles. Bundling is a great way to increase cart size especially during holidays, but not all POS systems can support this with one barcode. If not, your sales staff are stuck ringing up each item individually which almost defeats the purpose.
Customization of promotions in the POS system give your dispensary the freedom to be more creative. To achieve this level of customization, the system must be able to create rules based on products, categories, vendor, or brand. During a POS demo, be sure to see how customizable the discounts and promotions are before you commit.
Lastly, make sure that the system is compatible with offers through 3rd party software services such as Weedmaps, Leafly, Jane, or Tymber, to name a few. Otherwise, your staff will have to do double entries at checkout to honor the online offers.
5 - Onboarding, Training, and Support
Last but not least, transitioning to or installing a new POS system can be a heavy lift. Some providers will ask retail owners to prepare their data for migration, while others offer a concierge service for a nominal fee. Once migration is complete, the onboarding process can begin.
There are several POS providers that offer free onboarding with subscription plans, but you might get what you pay for. Others offer onboarding packages at different price points, which could pay dividends later with a well-informed staff and less time on hold with tech support.
Extensive training for sales staff, receptionists, managers, and even delivery drivers will shorten the learning curve and give your team the knowledge to train new hires. The best onboarding coaches typically have experience in a retail environment. You’ll be able to tell the difference between someone who is purely teaching the software and someone who understands how it can be implemented in your business.
While technology is great, it’s never perfect. It’s not about things going wrong but what happens when they do. You want to be able to speak to a real person without much wait. Levels of customer support varies widely from provider to provider. It is a good idea to call the support line randomly even before you become a customer to check on wait times.
Pulling the Trigger on Your POS System
The cannabis industry is a fast growing, fast evolving space and keeping track of all your tasks can be a challenge. Picking the right POS system is essential for retailers, and there is a plethora of options to choose from. But with some research, you’ll find the best, not necessarily the cheapest, option.
This primer on POS systems comes to us courtesy of our friends over at BLAZE, a premier POS solution that puts efficiency, flexibility, and compliance at the forefront. They are constantly making updates that improve both functionality and the user experience. We highly recommend their service and know you’ll be glad we did.