by Gary Cohen, Cova Software
The Canadian cannabis industry has witnessed great success since federal legalization in 2018. In the United States, 35 states authorize the use of medical cannabis, and 15 of them allow recreational marijuana consumption. Potential dispensary owners should bear in mind that the cannabis industry operates under strict laws and regulations that set this business apart from conventional retail operations. A robust point-of-sale (POS) system is one of the most important tools that a dispensary owner must invest in. However, it’s also crucial to remember that not all POS systems are created equal, and a cannabis industry-specific POS will always be a better choice than a generic POS. Following are some of the most important criteria that you should consider when selecting a cannabis POS:
Product Design and UX
A cannabis-specific POS created specifically to address the nuances and pain points of cannabis businesses is your best bet. A well-designed system helps you quickly process actual sales and facilitate better inventory management. An intuitive and easy-to-use system boosts the performance of your budtenders by making product information and customer data available to them on the fly, thus elevating the overall customer experience as well.
Compliance and Traceability
Compliance is the number one administrative burden dispensaries have to deal with because of the stringent laws and scrutiny the cannabis industry has to undergo. A well-executed cannabis-specific POS system empowers owners to stay compliant at every stage of their business. Most states in the US require tracking of inventory and sales through a state-mandated traceability system such as Metrc or BioTrack. Even among cannabis POS systems, the level of integration with the government tracking system varies, with many offering only batch reporting at the end of the day. Choose a POS that automatically sends every reported transaction in real-time to the tracking system, thus helping you minimize human errors and always stay fully compliant. Many legal cannabis markets also require digital age verification scanners for dispensaries to scan IDs at the point of entry. So ensure that your POS provider provides all these functionalities.
Reliability and Data Privacy
There have been instances of generic POS crashing when used by cannabis stores. Even popular cannabis-specific POS systems have had recurring performance issues. Learn more about each of the POS systems in consideration by reading reviews and customer stories to figure out how reliable they are. A cloud-based POS system entails storing data on remote servers operated and maintained by a third party. It poses a lower technical barrier to entry and is definitely a cost-effective solution, but you must ensure that your POS provider protects all your dispensary and customer data, as per government regulations.
Inventory Management and Reporting
A well-designed POS system offers inventory valuation and costing methods integrated into your POS to streamline your inventory management. A dispensary-specific POS will provide you the sales trends data you need to most accurately judge the weights, strains, and quantity of products you need to stock up. Many states in the U.S. expect you to have a clear paper trail on every legally grown gram of cannabis, from seed to sale, and your POS system must have efficient reporting capabilities for you to report that. Powerful analytics and a customizable mobile reporting dashboard will enable you to monitor the health of your store and submit reports in real-time from anywhere.
Hardware and Software Integration
How your dispensary POS integrates with your other services and technology is another factor. Consider all the physical hardware that is being used in various sections of your dispensary and whether the POS provider can sync them with its software. You will have to integrate your accounting, HR, workforce, and security software solutions with your POS as well to ensure smooth operations. In a fast-evolving industry, new platforms and innovative solutions can hit the market almost overnight, but you must only select a POS that seamlessly integrates just not with your hardware and software but also with online marketplaces like Leafly, Weedmaps, and Dutchie so that you can offer easy pickup and delivery services to your customers as well.
Product Development and Support
A cannabis-specific POS company that has extensive experience in the industry will remain an authority on the latest developments, and will regularly update its product to stay ahead of regulatory changes. Find out about the after-sales customer support system they have in place- many companies will help you launch quickly but will disappear when problems may arise and leave you to tackle software glitches on your own. Also, choose a dedicated system for your retail business that specializes in the cannabis sector you operate in and is not an all-in-one solution.
Scalability and Cost of Ownership
An enterprise-level POS allows you to manage stock across all stores, set up location-level pricing, perform bulk editing, and even assign granular employee security permissions. It gives you complete visibility and full corporate control of your business with centralized reporting- accessible from anywhere, on any device. A POS built for multi-location brands has a robust platform with open APIs to enable flexible, plug-and-play integrations for easy scalability. Choose a POS provider that has the cannabis industry expertise and the ability to grow with you. Even if you may have to pay a bit more upfront, you will benefit from the long-term ROI and reduce your overall cost of ownership.
This is not an exhaustive list of points to consider. Download your free copy of ‘10 things to consider when choosing a point of sale system for your cannabis dispensary’ guide by Cova Software, which will offer you comprehensive information and help you choose the right POS.
Gary Cohen is the CEO of Cova Software, the fastest growing technology brand in the cannabis industry. Cohen’s focus has been driving the company’s overall strategy, including its vision, go-to-market plan, and strategic development. Since joining the cannabis industry in 2016 and launching Cova commercially in 4q17, Cohen has led Cova to dominate the enterprise sector for dispensary Point of Sale, while forging client relationships with hundreds of single-store retailers across North America.
Cova designs and builds retail software solutions specifically for the cannabis industry. Our technology platform currently powers 20,000 retail stores and over 1000 cannabis dispensaries with virtually no downtime, even on 4/20, making us the most robust and reliable cannabis POS system available on the market. Our point of sale system and its suite of digital solutions make complex operations simple, so retailers can stay compliant, streamline their operations and deliver an amazing experience always.