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7 Key Considerations When Selecting a Cannabis POS System

The cannabis industry is rapidly expanding with continued statewide legalization. So far, 38 states and DC permit the medical use of cannabis. Meanwhile, recreational cannabis use is also legal in 18 states and DC. Despite the giant stride toward legalization, the cannabis industry is still more highly regulated than typical retail operations. As a dispensary […]

7 Key Considerations When Selecting a Cannabis POS System

The cannabis industry is rapidly expanding with continued statewide legalization. So far, 38 states and DC permit the medical use of cannabis. Meanwhile, recreational cannabis use is also legal in 18 states and DC. Despite the giant stride toward legalization, the cannabis industry is still more highly regulated than typical retail operations.

As a dispensary owner, investing in an industry-specific Point of Sale (POS) system is crucial for your business’s bottom line. It helps with inventory management, processing product orders, and sales. More importantly, it’s crucial for record-keeping and generating compliance reports for your cannabis business.

The cannabis POS can also assist in providing a unique customer experience. It can help your dispensary become the go-to store in the cannabis marketplace.

However, the market is awash with vendors providing different types of POS systems. So you need to be vigilant when picking one for your dispensary. Read on to learn the top considerations when buying a cannabis dispensary retail POS system.

Compliance and Traceability

The cannabis industry operates under stringent regulations and scrutiny. A breach of these regulations may lead to hefty fines or suspension of your operating license, so compliance is mandatory. A cannabis-specific POS system can help you monitor all the compliance areas. It will also help you stay in the good books of the regulators.

Seed to Sale Tracking

Cannabis authorities want to carry out seed-to-sale tracking. Thus, cannabis dispensaries must report the movement of the cannabis product from the time it lands in the dispensary to the time a customer buys it.

In Canada, cannabis dispensaries must report inventory monthly to their respective provinces. The rules are more stringent in the US states. For example, retail stores in Washington, Colorado, and California must submit daily inventory and sales reports. And in Michigan and Missouri, dispensaries must report every cannabis sale in real-time to the state-mandated traceability system called Metrc.

Cannabis industry-specific POS can provide integration with a government tracking system like Metrc. With complete 2-way integration, your dispensary POS system can automatically generate inventory and sales reports. And with just a simple click, dispensary owners can send every cannabis sale transaction to external tracking systems in real-time.

Cannabis Sales Limit

Cannabis Sales Limit

Regulations governing purchasing limits vary from one state to another. For example, cannabis consumers in Colorado can purchase no more than 28 grams of cannabis in a single transaction. Selling more than the state-mandated daily purchase limit to the same customer is a serious compliance infringement. It may lead to severe punishment.

Luckily, a cannabis POS system can ensure compliance with the daily cannabis sales limit by doing the following:

  • The POS creates a profile for each customer who visits the store.
  • Every weed purchase is tracked and linked with the respective customer profiles.
  • If a customer wants to make another purchase on the same day, the POS calculates the quantity of their previous purchase. The POS also determines the amount left before they hit their daily limit.
  • When a customer reaches their daily product limit, the POS notifies the budtender if he comes back on the same day.

Product Design & User-friendliness

You should choose a cannabis POS system with an intuitive design. Here are ways a well-designed POS system can help your dispensary.

Staff Training

Your new POS system must be simple to learn and operate. Such a system will speed up daily operations, including processing product sales, inventory reporting, and other compliance areas.

A less-complex design will also allow your new budtenders to get up to speed within no time. Ultimately, you’ll save on time and money when training new staff.

Budtender Performance

The first point of interaction between your customers and your retail store is the budtender. The work of a budtender is to guide the consumer through his or her purchase. Most first-time customers who walk into a cannabis dispensary don’t know what to buy. The job of the budtender is to match the customer’s needs with the right cannabis product on the shelf.

A well-designed dispensary POS delivers all the product information to the budtenders on the fly. For instance, they don’t have to recall which cannabis strains are great for which conditions. With just a few swipes and taps, your budtenders can access in-depth information about your available products. They can also access product prices, discounts, and exclusive deals. Thus, they can quickly provide answers to customer questions right on the dispensary floor.

Customer Experience

One way to set your dispensary apart from the competition is to provide a unique customer experience, leading to customer satisfaction. A cannabis POS system can help you achieve that by creating a customer profile and favorites for each customer.

This way, you’re able to track customer buying patterns. With access to customer and sales data, budtenders can refer to the customer by name and don’t have to struggle to remember customers’ usual purchases. Ultimately, this helps budtenders provide a custom experience and also make the right product recommendations.

Customer Experience

Platform Stability

It is crucial to think about the reliability and stability of the POS system apart from its day-to-day feature set. The downside of choosing an unreliable retail POS system is a higher likelihood of a system crash or security breach.

During a system crash, your POS system can’t perform any cannabis transactions, send compliance reports, or even access customer data. Besides the lost revenue, you would also have to deal with the compliance nightmare, not to mention a disappointed customer base. When picking a POS system, you should read customer reviews and advice from industry experts on the different cannabis POS systems. This will help you make an informed decision with operational reliability in mind.

Of course, even reputable cannabis POS systems can’t guarantee 100 percent uptime. For this reason, features like emergency backup and offline mode can help you maintain your dispensary operations even in the face of technical infrastructure issues.

Data Infrastructure

You’ll have to make an important decision on whether to host your cannabis POS system locally or in the cloud. Let’s delve into the pros and cons of each method:

Local Hosting

Hosting your POS system locally involves setting up and running your own data server. You’ll have to factor in the cost of the required equipment, facility space, and hiring of IT support staff to operate your server architecture. Local hosting is undoubtedly an expensive affair.

The high-cost output comes with the advantage of having greater control of system operations. You have dedicated IT personnel onsite at all times to address system issues.

Cloud-based Hosting

A cloud-based POS system stores data on remote servers run by a third party. It is a cheaper option compared to local hosting. It also provides a lower technical hurdle to entry.

Unlike with local hosting, you don’t need to hire a dedicated IT expert. Instead, pay a third-party cloud-based provider to manage your server network. Cloud-based solutions provide amazing data security and privacy through their high redundancy levels in data storage. If a fire razes down your dispensary, your physical hardware could be lost. But cloud data remains secure.

A cloud-based solution, however, has one major drawback. You have less control if the system goes down. You can’t do anything but wait for the cloud service provider to address the glitch. Luckily, dispensary owners can navigate this risk by choosing a POS system vendor that has a verifiable track record of delivering secure and stable data infrastructure. Check out their customer satisfaction ratings, and you can deduce which POS solutions fit your cannabis retail operation.

Inventory Management

Inventory Management

State regulation requires mandatory reporting of inventory through the state-mandated tracking and traceability system. In this case, cannabis dispensary owners are required to track sold, returned, or damaged cannabis products. Dispensaries are also required to send the reports to the regulators. The essence of tracking cannabis inventory for regulators is to avoid the diversion of cannabis products to the black market or off-book sales.

Here’s how your POS system can help you with inventory management:

Automation of Manual Tasks

The right cannabis POS system can automate inventory management and integrate with government tracking systems. So you no longer have to do manual tasks like keying in product numbers and sales records. Thus, you are able to avoid data entry errors. You can also accurately scan more cannabis products on the POS scanner and save on labor time. In the end, you will be able to push out 100 percent accurate inventory regulatory reports in real-time to Metrc. You should be able to do the same with state-mandated track and trace systems.

The right POS system also incorporates costing methods like FIFO (first in-first out) and WAC (weighted average cost). The FIFO model is particularly good for perishable items like cannabis flowers. It means that you can sell the buds or flowers that you first bought. Doing so reduces the likely waste of items closer to expiry.

Greater Visibility to Stock Levels

A cannabis-specific POS can also give you greater visibility into your inventory levels. This means that you can keep specific quantities of an in-demand product in stock and know the right time to reorder. Ultimately, you can avoid inventory challenges like overstocking, understocking, or over assorting (having too many items in a certain category like tinctures or pre-rolls). Having the right products at the right time and in the right place will lead to customer satisfaction and better profit returns.

Data Insights

The right POS solution should generate detailed analytical data reports from which you can derive valuable insights. For example, sales data lets you create consumer profiles and learn important details such as purchasing patterns from it. You can also know the peak times and downtimes in your dispensary. This allows you to tailor your marketing and sales strategies based on your customers’ shopping behaviors.

Seamless Integrations

Your dispensary POS system is not an all-in-one solution for all your dispensary operations. It is just one part of the many hardware and software technology solutions needed in your retail operation. Thus, the right POS system should seamlessly integrate with your dispensary’s hardware and software.

Hardware Integration

A typical cannabis dispensary has physical hardware that facilitates dispensary operations like sales transactions, product identification, and shipping. Examples include office printers, computers, handheld tablets, scanners, ID scanners, and cash registers, just to name a few. Some cannabis POS systems specify specific hardware. Meanwhile, others integrate with any other hardware.

If you choose a software vendor that restricts you to specific hardware, it may be a costly outlay upfront. That hardware may be rendered unusable if you switch to another dispensary POS system later on. So make sure your selected POS system can sync with your existing hardware.

Software Integration

Software Integration

You will also need to think about the various software solutions your POS system needs to integrate with. It should effortlessly integrate with your HR, accounting, workforce, and surveillance systems for efficient dispensary management. Besides, your POS system should also allow integrations with popular online marketplaces. This integration will allow your dispensary to provide convenient pickup and delivery services.

Product Development & Support

Ongoing customer support is a key aspect when selecting a POS provider. A lot of tech startups will launch new POS systems. But when issues crop up, they disappear, leaving you to tackle the software malfunction on your own. So you should make a point to inquire about the after-sales customer support the POS provider has in place.

Ideally, you should choose a POS system vendor who specializes in dispensary retail operations instead of a holistic system. A cannabis POS provider that has vast experience in the industry will stay abreast of the latest cannabis industry developments. The right vendor will also be easily available and offer reliable customer service even during downtime.

Besides that, a reliable POS system vendor will offer regular product updates to stay ahead of industry regulations. It will also adjust to evolving consumer purchasing patterns.

The Bottom Line

Picking the right cannabis POS system is a crucial decision that requires in-depth research. At this point, you should know the top factors to look for in a cannabis industry POS system for your retail operation.

A good dispensary POS software will streamline your core dispensary operations and increase your bottom line. You’ll also stay compliant with direct integration to government tracking systems.