Guide to Running a Successful Dispensary in New York

Finally opened your dispensary in New York State? Here's what to tackle next.

Guide to Running a Successful Dispensary in New York
Guest contributor


LeafLink is the leading B2B commerce platform for cannabis helping retailers discover new brands, simplify ordering, and easily restock shelves.
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Guide to Running a Successful Dispensary in New York

Finally opened your dispensary in New York State? Here's what to tackle next.

Preview of what's inside

Disclaimer: This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. You are responsible for your own compliance with laws and regulations.

Congratulations on opening your first dispensary! You've made it this far. Now, it's time for a whole new set of challenges. In New York State, those struggles range from licensed and unlicensed market competition to tech integrations to staffing to product acquisition and a ton more. 

It's a tall order, for sure. No worries, though. You'll persevere—and eventually thrive like any New York success story. To get you there, our partner LeafLink has created this handy checklist to walk you through some critical startup components.

Let’s dive in.

Front-end operations

Choose the right floor plan

Layout is crucial to any store, especially new shops looking to make the right first impression on customers. 

Dispensaries need to create a space that fosters positive interactions and sales. Your store’s environment comes to life, in part, through its design. The space should be an aesthetically-pleasing and inviting space that adheres to all required regulations. 

Keep these points in mind when considering your layout.

  • Creating an inviting space: Customers want to feel welcomed, from the security check-in to their first FoH retail interaction and everything in between. Creating this feeling is crucial for first-time visitors and returning shoppers. 
  • Maintaining flow: Display products in a way that helps customers flow through the store. Allow them to check out your products before reaching the Budtender to make a purchase. Popular products should be prominently featured while highlighting other brands on various sales shelves, cases and signage.
  • Staying compliant: Each state has its own set of branding rules. New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) issued marketing and packaging regulations in March 2023. Your dispensary needs to work within these parameters. The options can sometimes be limiting, but the laws don’t differ greatly from other states’ rules–giving you some options to consider. In-store signs, flyers and other materials help educate buyers about new and hot items available. The correctly placed  signage and materials placed throughout the store help play a significant part in familiarizing customers  with your brand and other top sellers. Mix this mindset online and you should develop a solid foundation for building product awareness. Just be sure to stick to online marketing rules in that case, which is a whole other set of hurdles.. 

Hire helpful and knowledgeable budtenders

Hiring plant-knowledgeable employees is always helpful. But even the most well-informed about trichomes, cannabinoids and terroirs could use help when interacting with consumers. 

Staffing informed, passionate people is essential. So too, is providing them with the needed training and tech to support their day-to-day role. 

Leveraging data and insights can help improve FoH staff education and customer service in a number of ways:

  • Product information: Even the most knowledgeable can have a momentary memory lapse. With a detailed cannabis POS system to rely on, retail associates can pull up information on products anytime they need it, helping deliver fast, accurate answers to inquiring shoppers.
  • Customer insights: Gain detailed information about shopping habits, purchase sizes and consumer needs. Use this information to help suggest products, brands and upsell when possible. 
  • Training materials: Training a new hire? An existing employee looking to brush up on store protocols? Store it all in one hub. House important training documents and other essential store information for quick access. 

Back-end operations

Choose a dependable and effective POS system 

A reliable POS system addresses various areas of critical concerns, including: 

  1. Compliance: Dispensaries are required to comply with various rules and regulations on the local, state and federal levels. The rules differ depending on if your store is opening for the first time or if it’s converting from medical, Remaining compliant is a tall task in either case–especially with rules still being sorted. But with a reliable POS system, your dispensary can remain compliant and do so much more. Easily submit data, track sales, monitor inventory, generate reports for regulatory agencies, and more all from one POS system.
  2. Efficiency: Dispensaries operate more efficiently with a reliable POS system. Choose a POS capable of automating processes, including sales and inventory management. 
  3. Data management: A reliable POS system helps dispensaries manage their data more effectively by tracking sales trends, monitoring inventory levels, and generating reports. You can use this information to make data-driven decisions about which products to stock, pricing, and operations optimization. 
  4. Customer experience: High-quality POS systems help dispensaries deliver optimal customer experiences. POS systems help create noticeable differences in the shopping experience, executing quick and accurate sales, minimizing wait times, and providing customers with cashless payment options.
  5. Growth: A POS system should help dispensaries grow and scale. When ready to level up, your POS system should scale with you, providing solutions to your growing sales and inventory needs.

A POS leader like Dutchie helps deliver these results and more. Notice the differences made across the board, including: 

  • Streamlined sales process
  • Increased customer satisfaction 
  • Simplifying compliance

Dutchie integrates with seed-to-sale leader BioTrack to provide dispensaries with comprehensive compliance solutions, including:

  • Automatic data syncing 
  • In-depth reports 
  • Real-time sales tracking and inventory updating  

Use a reliable wholesale ordering system

Reliable ordering benefits your entire supply chain. Some of the wide-ranging benefits include: 

  • Improved vendor relations: Hundreds of conditional licenses have been issued, and the number of dispensaries continues to grow. Keeping up good relationships will be key to market success. A reliable ordering system improves ordering and communication across the supply chain. Clear communication and transparency often lead to more efficient deliveries, error reductions, rapport building, potential discounts, and other preferred partner perks. 
  • Increased data analysis: The New York market is sure to produce some interesting consumer data soon enough. Be prepared to capture all the details. Reliable ordering systems help dispensaries track crucial real-time data. With the information in hand, your dispensary and its supply chain partners can stay on top of sales, inventory tracking, buying trends and other data points critical to success. 

Dispensaries receive those benefits and more with LeafLink. Not only does LeafLink Marketplace streamline ordering, but it also provides thorough real-time inventory data and a comprehensive product catalog featuring reliable, vetted vendors. 

Additionally, you can easily view and aggregate your purchase history into one, centralized list and mark any product favorites along the way. This makes for a seamless, stress-free repurchasing experience as stock levels run low. The added benefit of being able to mark several similar products as store favorites is that you can easily compare them side-by-side to make a decision. This can help buyers like yourself make more informed purchasing decisions and choose the product that best meets their needs.

Informed purchasing and repurchasing decisions

New York is one of the starting points for many cannabis consumer trends. It’s important you stay on top of what’s hot. POS systems should deliver those insights with real-time data so your dispensary can make informed purchasing decisions. 

With Dutchie, dispensaries witness real-time sales data and inventory analytics, as well as critical insights like: 

  • Product performance insights: Track how fast products sell. Avoid stockouts and lost sales with proactive restocking data.
  • Purchase history: Use order data to track spending and average customer basket sizes. With accurate, real-time information, you can better track consumer tendencies and improve vendor negotiations. 

Have a passion for cannabis

The booming cannabis market has seen many angling for quick dollar in recent years. Those folks were in for a rude awakening when the hardships of the market became a reality. 

That's not to say that lucrative gains won’t one day come. But it's fair to say that cannabis isn't for the fair-weathered. That’s especially true in New York State, where authentic cannabis culture is a critical component to many shoppers.

To succeed, your dispensary needs business acumen, reliable tech, and, most importantly, a passion for the plant. Shoppers want to find brands and dispensaries that align with their consumption preferences and world views. You can build the rest, but that passion has to come from you and your team. 

The bottom line

With various kinds of passionate consumers visiting your store daily, staying on top of what matters most to shoppers can be difficult. But your company can understand with efficient management and a reliable POS system.

All the while, your tech should be able to grow with your consumers and your brand as sales, fulfillment and inventory needs increase. You can achieve both goals with a comprehensive tech solution made for the cannabis industry.