Cannabis point-of-sale (POS) systems have unique components that you will not find in any other industry. With legalization being closer to reality than ever, it is key to have a software system that can be flexible to adapt to the different rules set by the regulatory bodies. It is customary for providers to have a cloud-based framework that will be able to connect to all the track-and-trace providers seamlessly and adapt to these new changes. Below are five key components to look for in cannabis POS software.
Compliancy is a key component for dispensaries to maintain legitimacy with the reporting of every transaction to the regulatory body. Why? The government, depending on the state, requires the dispensary to report information directly to them. This information usually includes dispensary, inventory, customer, package, and product data. The four different American track-and-trace government software providers are as follows: Metrc, Helix, Leaf Data Systems, and Agrisoft. The largest player is Metrc with 16 states and one territory (Washington D.C) under current contract.
Law enforcement agencies use data irregularities in the track-and-trace software to detect any illegal marijuana activities. On the off chance that these irregularities are adequately extreme, an examination could be triggered that could prompt closing-down activities and heavy fines. It is critical to use a cannabis POS software that has a controlled API push after each transaction so that you can ensure all data is transmitted accurately. Keep in mind, if the track-and-trace state-mandated software is not maintaining uptime, this can cause non-compliancy issues.
Prior to the pandemic online ordering was more of a luxury than a necessity for dispensaries. According to a poll of 840 people made by Ganja Goddess, “Only 6.4% of consumers say retail shops are now their primary purchasing method, compared to 63.3% pre-COVID, representing a roughly 57% decrease.” You can associate these numbers with pandemic-influenced buying trends.
Cannabis POS software providers have different strategies when it comes to online ordering. Some decide to use a third-party eCommerce provider and others have eCommerce built into their service offering. In general, many new cannabis companies have shifted their focus to an online-first business, and the industry is seeing more online ordering systems and dispensary-branded app models pop up. Because of these trends, dispensaries must have their POS operating synchronously with the online ordering platform, meaning whatever is available to shop for online must be in-stock at the dispensary. Many e-commerce solutions can make that possible by enabling delivery, digital payments, and curbside pickup.
3. Cashless Transactions
Since cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, cannabis banking remains a finicky topic. However, cannabis banking on the state level has been enabled and because of that there are extra layers of cannabis compliancy that local banks and credit unions must adhere to. As of today, the federal government has not issued an MCC (Merchant Category Code) for cannabis dispensaries, so the different cashless payment models that exist today are as follows:
ACH/Bank-to-Bank Transfers (Similar to PayPal)
- Compliant so it can convert into an actual merchant account when legal
- Payment transfers occur across the ACH payment network
- Completely transparent – with every party involved
- Actual business representation on merchant and consumer account statements
- Rounds up to the nearest $5 and/or $20
- Masks transactions as an ATM transaction
- Merchants can be shut off without notice
- Not sustainable
Debit and Credit Cards
- Miscoded accounts
- High risk of being shut off
- High fees with offshore settlements
- Not endorsed by the card brands
- Very small number of dispensaries are using this as an option
- Blockchain technology
- Real-time settlements
- Bitcoin and other various digital currencies
As you can see above, the most sustainable solution until the federal government enacts new rules is the ACH/bank-to-bank transfers. By working with a payment solution provider like Hypur, AeroPay, or CanPay, dispensary owners can be confident that their payment processing will not damage their business with any unannounced issues.
Star Micronics Cannabis POS Hardware
From NTEP-certified scales and extra-strength cash drawers to online ordering and linerless label printers, Star has all of the POS hardware that today’s dispensaries need.
4. Reward/Loyalty Program
Building customer retention via a reward or loyalty program is critical, especially in cannabis. As legalization becomes widespread, creating more access, the cost of cannabis to consumers will continue to decline. At the same time, the number of dispensaries is inclining at a rapid velocity and under these circumstances profit margins will naturally decline.
A highly engaging reward program will create a continuous flow of returning clients for your dispensary. Running daily specials that are sent through text messages and emails not only help retain the dispensary’s current clients, but also contributes to maintaining the strength of the dispensary’s margins. When sending out promotional messages, it is prudent that the message includes a link directly to the dispensary’s eCommerce platform and that the special being offered is highly visible after clicking the link. A successful reward or loyalty system acts like a mini-bank account for loyal customers and is a win-win; they will spend more as they strive to achieve larger discounts, and your business will thrive.
5. Inventory Management
Cannabis is unique in comparison to other businesses when it comes to inventory. If you are ordering delivery from a restaurant, most likely they will have the ingredients to fulfill your request. This is simply not the case with cannabis.
It is vital for dispensaries to know what is in stock and what needs to be re-ordered from their distributors. If a dispensary’s inventory is inaccurate, they will have unhappy customers who have ordered online and will not be able to get what they ordered.
When bulk packages arrive from distributors, it is a smart business practice to scan each package using an inventory scanner that is directly integrated into your POS. Adding inventory manually into the system can create a massive headache, and also allows for a higher possibility of human error. According to Cannabis Industry Journal, “Cannabis businesses need more sophisticated solutions to track sales, monitor supplies, oversee shipments and remain informed on where products originate from and how frequently to re-order. Native functionalities too often do not provide such robust features.” Having a consistent, standard operating procedure in your dispensary is so valuable.
Appspensary Cannabis POS Software
If you’re looking for a robust cannabis POS software solution, Appspensary has what you need. Appspensary is an online ordering platform and cloud-based POS system that is tailored and branded for marijuana-related businesses. Appspensary includes features like:
- Online store
- Cashless payments
- Delivery optimization
- Curbside pickup
- Text message marketing
- Loyalty program
- Custom development
John Bachanov is a former 1st round MLB draft pick to the LA Angels of Anaheim. As CEO/CO of Appspensary, John is a cannabis advocate who believes that everyone should have equitable access to the world’s greatest medicine. He is a firm believer that cannabis is an “exit” drug and should be used therapeutically for people as a safe alternative for medicinal purposes.