December 09, 2020 9 min read

By George Mouratidis

Despite the many legal challenges facing the recreational cannabis industry, dispensary sales continue to reach all-time “highs.”

Recent data out of MJ Biz Daily suggests that retail weed in the USA rose 40 percent between 2019 – 2020. As more states legalize recreational or medical marijuana, this industry could soon be worth $37 billion. 

While the opportunity to open a dispensary has never been better, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Not only is the competition intense, but there are also a lot of complicated legal and taxation requirements dispensary owners have to abide by. On top of all that, dispensary managers have to worry about their business’s day-to-day operations (e.g., inventory, customer service, and sales).

Thankfully, there is a technology that can help dispensary owners efficiently manage their marijuana and their moolah. 

In recent years, many software companies have emerged in the point-of-sale (POS) systems specifically for cannabis dispensaries.

Typically based on the cloud, these unique POS systems help dispensary owners manage everything from inventories and shipments to compliance paperwork and customer loyalty programs.

Using a high-quality POS system won’t only keep your dispensary legit, it could seriously boost your store’s “pot-ential.” 

Since dispensary POS software is such a central part of any retailer’s business, it’s worth spending the extra time evaluating all of the options on the market.

Going with the right POS system from the get-go can save you a lot of headaches down the line. 

What Does A Dispensary POS System Do?

A good POS software is way more than a glorified cash register. In fact, you could consider a POS system the “brain” of your business.

POS will help you manage your dispensary’s data flows in real-time.

Since cannabis laws are continually changing, dispensary POS systems are well-geared to handle compliance issues like state reporting and customer ID verification. Your software should also integrate with seed-to-sale tracking and send the necessary paperwork to your state’s regulators.

Beyond compliance issues, a dispensary POS system will help your budtenders perform at peak efficiency. Indeed, many POS systems alert budtenders to inventory, pricing, and detailed product descriptions in real-time. All of this up-to-date information should help speed up your service and improve your store’s customer experience. Plus, POS could help you monitor each employee’s performance so you could “weed out” any weak workers.

Speaking of “weeding out” employees, POS systems serve many significant safety functions.

Let’s face it, not everyone entering the marijuana industry has noble intentions.

What if one of your employee’s slides some OG Kush to an underage friend? How could you track this bad behavior? POS systems provide an extra layer of security that helps discourage any bad actors. 

Going along with safety, POS could protect against hacking. These systems should also be able to handle power outages or Internet failures.

Even if you have a photographic memory, there’s no way your brain could handle the mountains of data in your dispensary location. No matter how small your operation is, you need a POS system to succeed in the legal cannabis industry.

What Should New Dispensaries Look For In A POS System?

As you could already tell, there’s a whole lot dispensary POS systems have to offer. So, how do you go about picking the perfect POS for your store? Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind when browsing the current POS market.

Compliance, Compliance, Compliance

We can’t overstate the importance of state compliance when researching dispensary POS systems. Due to its long history of illegality, cannabis will always face stringent regulations. It doesn’t matter how successful your dispensary is; if you fail to meet your state’s requirements, you could lose everything.

Therefore, the first thing you should investigate in any POS system is how they plan to help you stay within the law. This includes features like automatic reporting, ID verification, accurate weight measurements, and taxation software. Your POS system should also integrate directly with your state’s approved seed-to-sale system like BioTrack or METRC. 

You should also ask how your POS system will adapt to changing regulations in your state. Since cannabis laws are always in flux, you need to double-check that your POS team knows how to modify their system.

Is This POS System Good For The “Tech-Challenged”? 

Another consideration to keep in mind is ease-of-use.

You don’t want your budtenders to be fumbling around different screens while patients impatiently wait for their weed! Dispensary POS systems should be intuitive to use—especially for non-tech-savvy employees. This will make your budtenders more efficient at their job and boost your customers’ experience. 

Take a long look at your chosen POS system’s design and try to envision your employees flipping from screen to screen. You should also ask the POS company if on-site training is required and whether that’s included in the final price.

How Will This POS Fit My Store’s Style?

Although ease-of-use is significant, it’s also important to consider how a POS system will fit into your store’s design. Not only should this unit fit seamlessly with your dispensary’s aesthetic, it should also compliment your business strategy.

For instance, perhaps you like to run your dispensary like an Apple store where employees are constantly walking around the store.

On the opposite extreme, you may want to provide medical patients with privacy to browse your store’s catalog on touchscreens. Both of these store models are great for different businesses, but they require distinct POS features.

When you’re evaluating a POS system’s design, try to envision how it fits into your dispensary’s style. You might also want to consider whether POS add-ons like large digital displays would make your business more efficient. 

How Could POS Keep Your Customers Happy?

A great POS system should keep your customers engaged with your brand. There are many ways POS could help improve customer satisfaction, but one feature to look out for is eCommerce integration. 

Let’s face it: everyone nowadays is shopping online.

You need to consider how POS will help enhance your digital shopping experience.

For instance, does your POS system automatically integrate with sites like Leafly or WeedMaps?

Could your customers schedule an in-store appointment online?

Most significantly, will your inventory change in real-time across all of these platforms? 

On top of eCommerce, you need to consider how your POS system will manage special deals, loyalty programs, and SMS messaging. While these bonus features may not be “essential,” they could go a long way towards building rock-solid brand loyalty. 

How Secure Is My POS System? 

Security is crucial in any business, but especially when dealing with a federally illegal substance.

Marijuana laws may be relaxing throughout the USA, but that doesn’t mean there’s no risk involved with this substance. Your POS system should have a way to protect your business’s sensitive data from potential hackers.

Figure out how your POS system will help you deal with potential safety issues like hacking or sending tax money. Will your data be secure in the event of a blackout? Does your POS system keep running with low or no WiFi? Could your POS system alert you to any inventory issues or regulation changes? 

Asking these security-related questions should put your mind at ease before purchasing POS software. 

How Good Is The Company’s Support Staff? 

No matter how intuitive the design, there’s always going to be challenges integrating new technology into your dispensary. When those issues arise, you need access to a friendly support staff to walk you through any and every problem.

Ask your POS company how long they’ve been in business and how many people they employ. Of those employees, how many handle customer service? Also, ask how fast and how often you should expect to get in contact with a customer care rep.

Please double-check your POS team places a priority on providing prompt customer service any day of the week.

Could POS Systems Help Manage Delivery Services? 

Sometimes customers prefer the discretion and convenience of getting their cannabis goods delivered. Indeed, since many people use medical marijuana for mobility or mental health issues, cannabis deliveries serve an essential function in the community. 

Luckily for dispensary owners, many POS systems offer unique features that could enhance your delivery program.

A few companies even provide real-time-tracking so you could keep a close eye on your drivers. For extra convenience, some POS vendors integrate with sites like Potify to help customers order their weed. 

If you are going to add a delivery service to your dispensary, please take a peek at your POS system’s offerings. Of course, double-check this program will abide by your state’s compliance laws and automatically update your inventory.

What Are The Best Dispensary POS Systems? 

1. IndicaOnline

Established in 2011, IndicaOnline is one of the oldest and most trusted POS vendors in the US and Canada. With its HIPPA-approved status, METRC-approved reporting, and batch tracking software, you’ll have nothing to worry about in terms of compliance. 

However, it’s not just compliance that makes dispensaries go crazy for IndicaOnline’s offerings.

Indeed, many customers are blown away by this system’s easy-to-read menus and quick connectivity with iPads. This system’s sleek cash drawer and receipt printer also come with Bluetooth connectivity and handheld barcode readers. 

IndicaOnline also has many hot add-ons like large interactive signage, delivery offerings, customer analytics, and easy connectivity with Potify and WeedMaps. This POS software also offers a 14-day free trial and multiple payment programs starting at $250 per month.

No matter what plan you go with, you can expect 24/7 access to IndicaOnline’s superb customer service.

2. Cova

If you’re looking for an experienced POS provider, look no further than the Colorado-based company Cova.

With over 400 employees and five offices in the US and Canada, Cova is unquestionably one of the most well-established names in this growing field. This large POS provider also has multiple accolades to its name, including the 2019 Expert’s Choice Award from FinancesOnline.

What is it so many critics like about Cova’s POS? Well, there are many noteworthy features, but many managers rave about Cova’s intuitive tablet-focused design. A few stand-out features include a built-in ID scanner, multiple payment options (including gift cards), and easy online queuing. 

If you don’t live in a WiFi hotspot, there’s no need to worry about Cova shutting off on you. This company promises to keep working even if there’s no Internet in your area. For extra security, the company has a massive customer care division available over the phone or online. 

Cova seamlessly blends with METRC, BioTrack, and Leaf Data Integrations for easy compliance. The company also offers delivery service, eCommerce, and well as integration with Leafly and WeedMaps.

At a minimum of $350 per month, Cova might be a bit pricier than competitors. However, this company earns its premium price by offering one of the most robust and reliable POS experiences. 

3. Nature Pay

Created in 2015, Nature Pay is a relatively new player in the dispensary POS world. Although it’s not as established as brands like Cova, this company has a few unique options worthy of investigation. 

Indeed, one of Nature Pay’s most impressive features is that it works with credit and debit card transactions. Although Nature Pay’s website doesn’t advertise delivery tracking, it promises to provide standard POS features like inventory tracking and state compliance. The company also has a unique loyalty program and will allow you to create branded gift cards. 

In addition to its marijuana POS offering, Nature Pay is passionate about cannabis banking. If you’re interested in establishing a legitimate bank account for your cannabis business, the team at Nature Pay should be able to help you. 

Although Nature Pay’s POS places a heavy emphasis on credit card and cashless payments, it also has a “cannabis ATM” program. Anyone who’d like to add an ATM service to their dispensary can’t pass on giving Nature Pay a consultation call.

Nature Pay doesn’t list average prices on its website, but recent reviews suggest dispensaries should expect to pay between 5 – 6 percent on each purchase plus an extra 30 cents. 

4. Meadow

Are there any California dispensary owners out there? If so, you might want to give Meadow a go!

Founded in 2014, Meadow is one of the fastest-growing dispensary POS systems in the Golden State. Interestingly, this company was initially an on-demand directory that helped CA customers connect with local dispensaries. As the cannabis market expanded, Meadow gradually grew into an all-in-one POS system. 

Beyond METRC-enabled compliance, Meadow boasts a stellar eCommerce and delivery division. Anyone who uses Meadow will have access to the company’s efficient tracking system, detailed maps, and SMS communication with drivers.

For security, Meadow claims to back your data up in multiple sources. The company promises superior encryption technology, secure document storage, and 99.99 percent uptime. 

Meadow has a tiered pricing system to work for each dispensary’s budget. Although the company asks you to request a quote, it promises never to charge additional set-up fees. 

Make Your Pot Profitable With POS! 

If you want to have the best dispensary on the block, you need to invest in POS.

But just any old POS system isn’t going to cut it! Anyone involved in the cannabis trade has to double-check their POS server can handle the legal complexities of this industry.

Only after you’ve squared away compliance issues should you turn your attention to add-on features.

Since POS is such a crucial decision, please take all the time you need to evaluate various systems. 

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