Choosing a dispensary point-of-sale system (POS) is one of the most crucial and consequential decisions a dispensary has to make.
Why is it such a big decision?
Because POS systems touch just about every aspect of dispensary business from sales, to compliance, to loyalty and retention and analytics.
Dispensary POS systems also need to have the capability to integrate with multiple third-party platforms in your dispensary tech stack. This adds a layer of complexity to the decision-making matrix. Don’t assume every third-party platform will be plug-and-play. It just doesn’t work that way in the weed game.
To choose the best POS system for your dispensary, it’s vital to understand both the core capabilities of dispensary POS systems, the key differences between the leading providers, and the integrations that they support
POS Core Capabilities
POS systems offer a broad range of core capabilities to meet the unique challenges and regulatory needs of cannabis dispensaries. These include:
POS systems verify customer ID and age, manage the customer queue, and store customer profile data. There’s no margin for error here. Selling weed to minors is a mistake no one wants to make and managing the queue is essential to minimizing wait time and effective customer service.
It’s hard to sell weed without a POS system that facilitates transactions, maintains sales data, manages cash flow, applies discounts, and accepts various types of payments. An integrated ecommerce solution is also huge. Look for one that has that.
Cannabis dispensaries are heavily regulated. Cannabis POS systems are designed to safeguard against violations and streamline compliance by integrating with a state’s seed-to-sale tracking system, storing required data, and generating reports for state and local authorities. They also manage customer purchasing limits and calculate taxes (this is not an exhaustive list.)
Inventory management is key. Many dispensaries carry over 1,000 Skus, strains and products change constantly, and seed-to-sale tracking means you need to be on point. A solid Inventory management system tracks inventory levels, provides re-ordering alerts, and generates inventory reports. These functions are your buyer’s best friend and are key to ensuring you never run out of anything.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
There are several amazing third-party platforms that handle CRM, and most dispensaries use one of them. The reason is that third-party solutions typically offer better analytics and text and/or email capabilities. That said, integrated CRM solutions are simple, easy to use, and allow dispensaries to track customer preferences and manage customer loyalty programs.
POS systems may also help manage employee schedules, control permissions and access to sensitive information, and provide staff sales reports.
This is an e-commerce function and not every POS system offers an integrated e-commerce solution. The ones that do have a leg up on their competition. It’s also important to ensure real-time inventory synchronization between your online menu and what’s actually on the shelf.
Some POS systems also manage delivery orders and logistics. This is a major plus.
Every POS system provides some form of real-time data and sales analytics. However, most operators employ a third-party analytics platform because they offer more reporting options and more actionable data on customer behavior.
In the cannabis business, security is always a concern. Cannabis POS systems have robust security measures, including user permissions, audit logs, and end-to-end encryption to protect sensitive data.
This one is huge. Every operator uses third-party platforms. A good dispensary POS system should be able to integrate with everything including CRM platforms, accounting systems, e-commerce solutions, and analytics software (this is not an exhaustive list).
Pro Tip: Always get a list of what platforms a POS system integrates with before you pull the trigger.
The specific features, pricing, and user interfaces will vary among providers. Do your due diligence. These are some of the more popular and established solutions. Because they all have most of the features described above, what’s important are the key points of differentiation between them.
Blaze is an award-winning cannabis POS system with a couple of features that set it apart.
Blaze was built by principals with extensive experience in cannabis delivery. It provides a full suite of delivery management tools including consolidated dispatching, a Mobile Delivery App, Route Optimization, GPS Tracking for Drivers, Dynamic and Hub Delivery capability, and Onfleet and Tookan Integrations.
Blaze’s recent acquisition of Tymber is also significant. With Tymber, retailers get their own website, mobile apps, and an SEO-optimized, e-commerce platform which means no more iframe menus and 3rd party marketplaces.
Flowhub was one of the first companies to start building POS systems for cannabis retailers. They understand that retailers need flexible tools to keep pace with a cannabis market in constant evolution. Flowhub recently released “The Nug” and a new version of its platform that’s a game changer.
The NUG is a mobile scanner with applications for check-in, audits, and transfers. This helps manage employee time in inventory management.
Flowhubs Maui Platform
Flowhub Maui may be the most flexible POS system on the market. It doesn’t try to do it all because no POS system can. The industry is just too complex. So, Maui is focused on being best-in-class with simple integrations with other best-in-class cannabis tools for specialized functions like CRM and analytics.
Cova is a cannabis retail software that puts compliance first. It provides an age verification scanner to prevent underage sales, purchase limits to alert your staff if limits have been exceeded, and hours of operation compliance to ensure sales only occur during authorized hours. Cova also integrates with state track and trace systems. But what really sets Cova apart is their experience in providing POS solutions at scale in mature industries.
Reliability and Support
Cova has a support team with two decades of retail experience. They also have servers and cloud-based services such as Microsoft Azure to ensure data is scalable and secure.
Cova’s POS system integrates with a variety of tablets, barcode scanners, cash drawers, label printers, receipt printers, and scales to help provide the most seamless retail experience for your business.
Treez is all about growing your revenue by solving pain points at every level of your business. It provides actionable analytics that rival specialty third-party platforms as well as single-source reporting that simplifies the process.
Retail Performance Analytics
Treez business metrics include revenue, margins, inventory sell-through rates, budtender performance, and more. These capabilities are native. No third-party software is needed.
Single Source Data
No matter how many locations you have or people you employ, Treez brings it all together in one place to give everyone the access they need, when they need it. This means you can delegate responsibilities across multiple locations.
Pro Tips For Choosing The Right POS
At deep roots partners, we work with a lot of retailers. In our experience, when your POS doesn’t work the way you’d like it to, it hurts. But the one thing that may hurt more than a POS system that doesn’t meet your expectations is changing your POS system while you’re operating.
So, here are a few things you can do to help make sure you get it right the first time:
- Always Request a Demo: Try before you buy. You will learn a ton about the system and the provider on a test drive.
- Third-Party Integrations: Request a list of third-party platforms that integrate with the POS systems under consideration. You may need to do some extra homework here to get an idea of what third-party platforms you’re likely to use.
- Consult Other Retailers: If they’ve been in the game a while it’s likely they’ve tried a couple of different systems and will know their strengths and weaknesses.
- Customer Service is Key: These systems are comparatively new as are the third-party platforms that you will integrate with your POS. Expect bumps in the road. This elevates the importance of customer support. When something’s not working, you need immediate action.
If you have any more questions about dispensary POS systems, you can hit up deep roots partners anytime or tech consulting partners like https://mjstack.com/. We’re always here to help our dispensary partners sell more weed through SEO and more.
JP Donahue is a former corporate litigator turned successful writer, with over 25 works produced for major film and TV studios. He’s also a founding partner of Tropicanna, one of Orange County’s top cannabis retail brands. Leveraging his experience in both Hollywood and cannabis, JP advises dispensaries on branding, marketing, and operations. He’s a Jiu Jitsu Black Belt, certified Yogi, meditator, dog father, and a member of the New York State Bar and Writers Guild of America West.
- POS Core Capabilities
- Customer Check-In
- Inventory Management
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
- Employee Management
- Online Ordering
- Security Features
- Integration Capability
- POS Providers
- Blaze is an award-winning cannabis POS system with a couple of features that set it apart.
- Pro Tips For Choosing The Right POS