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As the medicinal and recreational legalization of marijuana becomes more widespread Annu Rev Clin Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2019 Feb 1. Published in final edited form as: Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2017 May 8; 13: 397–419. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032816-045128, more people are opting to open their very own cannabis business. First, however, every new cannabis dispensary will need to put thought and planning into the point-of-sale (POS) system that they select.
Of course, not any POS system is going to get the job done. To ensure that your company is as streamlined as possible, you’re going to need to select a POS system that is designed for cannabis companies and their unique needs, specifically. Otherwise, your site’s user-friendliness could be seriously stilted in the process — and it won’t exactly make your job any easier, either.
In addition, whenever you utilize a POS system designed for cannabis companies, you’ll be able to leverage various built-in compliance features. These features can help business owners ensure that they’re sticking to each and every rule and regulation specific to their state or region.
Further, depending upon the POS system that a dispensary opts to use, their marketing capabilities can be strongly impacted — for better or for worse.
So, which point-of-sale system should your cannabis company be using?
If you’re unsure, then we’re here to get you started on the process. Depending on the features you’re seeking out and your company’s budget, the POS system you choose could vary.
It’s important that no matter which option you select, you’re going with a high-quality POS system that will make sales and marketing more streamlined than ever before.
POS Systems and Marketing for Dispensaries
As they go about selecting their POS system, many dispensaries fail to take some important considerations into account. Namely, there often isn’t enough focus on online marketing capabilities and how this directly ties into the system a business owner selects.
Choosing a POS system without first considering marketing and other tools can have some serious repercussions for dispensaries. For instance, using a system that isn’t compatible with your own marketing strategy will make it difficult to manage an online inventory against what is actually present in your store.
More precisely, the POS system you go with will need to work with your store’s online cart and delivery services. Your checkout should be intuitive and easy for customers to navigate. The speed it takes to process a transaction is also important, and with a POS system that syncs easily to your online cart, you’ll never need to worry about slow or delayed transactions.
Why You Need a Cannabis Industry-Specific Retail POS System
If you’ve started to browse potential POS systems, you will probably quickly realize: There’s an enormous number of them available, and the selection seems to be endless. However, you’ll also notice that the majority of these systems aren’t designed for cannabis companies specifically.
Cannabis company owners have a variety of unique concerns to deal with, which don’t exist for most other business owners. Most POS systems aren’t going to take these issues into account, even though they are central to running a successful, law-abiding cannabis company. If you’re looking to get the most out of your system, then it will need to accommodate all the core factors of running a cannabis business, such as compliance issues, state-specific legal regulations, and industry-specific marketing.
Of course, you’re also going to need to manage marketing, supply infrastructure, inventory, and all the other typical business concerns. Ideally, your POS system should be accounting for all these factors, whether they’re specific to the cannabis industry or not.
With a POS system designed for cannabis businesses, you’ll find it easier to:
- Keep your business legally compliant
- Efficiently manage your dispensary’s inventory
- Keep your system online nearly 100% of the time — this could involve the use of an offline sales mode
- Gain strategic insight specific to the cannabis industry
- Provide the best possible customer experience
How the Right POS System Can Improve Customer Experience
In particular, your POS system can make it far simpler to cultivate the best possible customer experience, as well as keep your marketing effective and relevant. If your POS system is able to remain synced to your online store, then it’s far more likely that these considerations will be satisfied.
In order to achieve the best possible user experience, dispensaries will need to hone in on their marketing techniques. If you select a good POS system, then you will be able to effectively extract data from sales. This data can then be examined and used to improve your store’s marketing strategy, as well as any sales programs you have in place.
Additionally, if your POS system isn’t compatible with your online store, then this will take a serious toll on your customer experience and marketing abilities. Your system should be able to effortlessly sync to your online store to provide customers with an efficient and highly intuitive experience.
Having a high-quality POS system will make your business easier and more efficient to manage, but it will also help to improve the overall customer experience. When you use a system that’s specific to the cannabis industry, your POS system will be integrated with all online cannabis marketplaces.
This will allow business owners to stay in touch with the cannabis ecosystem, as well as provide seamless transactions to their customers at all times. Since the cannabis industry is still impacted by a variety of banking restrictions, it can be more complicated to keep transactions as efficient and streamlined as possible.
Your POS system can provide you with important functionalities, such as queue management and curbside pickup or delivery. This will allow you to better accommodate the needs of your customers. Your system should also make it easier for you, as a budtender, to provide customers with product recommendations. You’ll also be able to provide customers with all the relevant product data they’ll need, including composition, pricing, and THC content.
The Best Dispensary POS Systems
Now, we’d like to share some of the best POS systems currently available to cannabis businesses across the United States. Here are our top recommendations:
Flowhub puts a particularly heavy emphasis on compliance and abiding by laws and regulations. When you use this POS system, this process should be easier than ever before. Plus, to make sure that each and every sale is protected, this system has integrated a variety of built-in safeguards. This includes age verification; for example, the system also makes it easier to check for license validity.
Flowhub also keeps close track of purchase limits, as well as state-specific sales reporting regulations. All transactions are going to be on the books, even if you’re not the one taking care of them. Even if a transaction is placed through one of your newer employees, you can still expect Flowhub to account for it without an issue.
Additionally, Flowhub is an especially versatile POS system, seeing as it can be used on an array of different platforms —including laptops, desktop PCs, Macs, iPads, and other tablets. This will allow for a lower cost on your end whenever you’re first implementing the new POS system. Flowhub also offers its users the following features:
- Multi-location management
- Integrated debit transactions
- Inventory management
- Mobile analytics
- A variety of integration partners
2. MJ Freeway
Another POS system option for cannabis businesses is MJ Freeway. This is an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. Given its status as a seed-to-sale system, MJ Freeway can be effectively utilized by businesses from many sectors of the cannabis industry. Interested in using MJ Freeway for wholesale purposes? That’s perfectly all right. Alternatively, maybe you are searching for a POS system to help with manufacturing or delivery. If that’s the case, then MJ Freeway could still be the POS system for you and your cannabis company.
This option is also fantastic due to its particularly user-friendly interface. Due to the ease with which this interface can be used, there’s no need to worry about any of your employees struggling to figure it out. Even when an employee has less tech know-how than most, it should still be possible for them to operate MJ Freeway with minimal complications.
This usability can even help to bring down the amount of time you spend on onboarding. You’re also less likely to be faced with regular employee mistakes, which can often result when an individual isn’t familiar with an interface.
If your cannabis business has multiple locations, then MJ Freeway could be the ideal POS system for you. Compared to other systems, MJ Freeway is known for its impressive scalability. It offers users a cloud-based experience, which you can use remotely and on practically any device. Maybe you have locations throughout different states — if this is the case, then you will have to account for several different sets of rules and regulations, from store to store. MJ Freeway takes this into account and simplifies the process of sticking to state-specific rules and regulations, even if you have locations in more than one state.
Alongside its impressive compliance features, MJ Freeway also boasts a mobile-friendly and highly flexible experience for both business owners and customers.
Another cannabis-specific POS system is Treez. This seed-to-sale platform is an enterprise-level option intended to aid cannabis dispensaries, manufacturers, and cultivators. While other cannabis-specific systems only accept cash or debit card transactions, Treez also supports credit card transactions. For this reason, Treez can be considered an especially convenient option from the customers’ end.
Some of the compliance safeguards that are included in the Treez system are:
- Purchase limits
- Age verification
- Real-time sales reporting
- State-specific tax collection
Treez is also highly customizable, giving users greater control over variables like inventory locations, customer agreements, and menus. Each of these can be customized to best suit the needs of your cannabis business, as well as the rules and regulations enforced within your state. Treez is available for installation on practically any device, making it another versatile option.
Once you’ve explored a variety of cannabis-specific POS systems, you’ll be able to figure out which is best suited to your business. Still, to make this decision, you’ll need to first determine which features you’d like to prioritize.
Although all three of the aforementioned systems are strong contenders, some may be better for certain businesses than others. There is no universal POS system that is the overall best option for all cannabis businesses out there. So, it’s important to do your research and take a look at your own business needs before making a selection.
BioTrack offers something more comprehensive. It allows a dispensary to establish discounts based on date, time, product, brand, etc. Also, employees have more input regarding daily discounts and customer loyalty. The system ensures all customers remain compliant per state medical programs.
Online ordering is a must for many customers. BioTrack allows for full integration of online menus and ordering. As mentioned, employees will have more real-time input regarding customer loyalty. Yet, BioTrack offers a full-blown CRM component. Create email campaigns based on customer favorites, behaviors, etc.
Ideally, from the start of brick-and-mortar business, great customer service came from knowing your customer, literally and figuratively. While in-store employees can help repeat customers feel at home, customer profiles keep details on every customer in the system. Within seconds, learn medical preferences, purchase history, and reward point scenarios for each customer.
Where’s POS Headed?
Waitr Alan Hatfield, December 22, 2021, Published story on Yahoo Finance as: Waitr Acquires Software Company Cova in Pivot Toward Cannabis Delivery, a leader in on-demand delivery, recently made moves toward the cannabis industry, putting in a bid to purchase a leading POS system in the cannabis industry. That would couple Waitr’s abilities and logistics with a software that is tapped into over 2,000 dispensaries in the US and Canada. This will provide dispensaries with the resources to make deliveries, coupling that ability with CRM elements of POS systems. Waitr also shared that in accordance with a previous rebranding strategy, the company has acquired the “ASAP.com” domain name and has reserved the Nasdaq ticker “ASAP” in a nod to the company’s specialty in delivery technology and logistics.
Although this might already be a solution for some dispensaries, here in Arizona Waitr is still not available for delivery.
POS and Online Ordering
Cannabis consumers are incredibly fastidious. They’re into the details. That means your online store should be equally as compelling as in-person dispensary staff. However, in-person staff enjoy the benefit of having products to physically show and exhibit, making items more attractive and the customer better informed.
In addition to a great looking website, an integrated online ordering system makes the process more seamless for the customers. After gaining a good understanding of offered products, the customer wants to get their order quickly and conveniently.
In addition to configuring your website to handle online orders, consider how this process will integrate with your dispensary and POS system. For example, some devote specific waiting lines or portions of the dispensary to online orders. You’ll need to ensure your chosen system integrates with real-time inventory.
The Future of Cannabis Sales Is Delivery
What food or product can’t be delivered these days? Cannabis is no exception. A growing number of dispensaries are implementing delivery into their services. Some consumers would love to get to the dispensary but they don’t have the time; they feel a bit awkward about being seen in public; or, they’re just lazy at the moment. So, easily getting on a website, making an order, and waiting for a timely cannabis delivery is incredibly convenient for consumers.
While it seems unquestionable to implement delivery, the offering does warrant preliminary strategy. For example, consider how offering delivery will impact your store’s inventory and the availability of in-store staff. Plus, figure-out your delivery radius as well as the times and days of delivery availability.
Cannabis POS systems need to synthesize all of the wants of the dispensary customer with the needs of operations. Moving forward, more POS systems seek to suit the demands of all parties.
For example, partners like Dutchie help with:
- Menu integrations
- Real-time menu updates
- Product reviews
- Branded product photos
- Order placement
- Driver dispatch
Marketing Your Cannabis Business With Eminent SEO
If you want your cannabis dispensary to see the long-term success that you were hoping for, it’s important to stay on top of your marketing strategy. Still, digital marketing can seem daunting if you don’t have any experience with it. At Eminent, we use our digital marketing expertise to give your marketing a huge boost — on top of the benefits you’re already reaping from your POS system. Eminent understands the ins and outs of cannabis marketing and what sets it apart from other niches. That’s why we offer specialty Cannabis marketing services to our dispensary clients.
|↑1||Annu Rev Clin Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2019 Feb 1. Published in final edited form as: Annu Rev Clin Psychol. 2017 May 8; 13: 397–419. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032816-045128|
|↑2||Alan Hatfield, December 22, 2021, Published story on Yahoo Finance as: Waitr Acquires Software Company Cova in Pivot Toward Cannabis Delivery|