Astro Buds, an organic vertically-integrated cannabis retailer, creates outstanding in-store experiences for both customers and budtenders with Dutchie’s PIN debit solution. As a result, they’re processing nearly half (48%) of all sales through PIN debit—and boosting budtender morale with an average $7 tip on 43% of all purchases.
“Our budtenders are an essential part of our business, so it was important that we enabled tipping. They can take home a little extra at the end of the day, and it's incredibly motivating for them to watch our customers enjoy the checkout experience.” — Cole Terry, Co-founder, Astro Buds
Strategically located in Chaparral, New Mexico—just one mile north of the Texas border—you’ll find Astro Buds, a boutique dispensary co-founded by Cole Terry. “We kind of bootstrapped this thing with a few friends,” says Terry. “We took a trip out to Colorado and started drawing on the whiteboard. We had this big dream of launching a cannabis business, and just really started putting rubber to the road.”
Despite state-specific application challenges (and having a small team to boot), Astro Buds was licensed as an adult-use dispensary in December 2021, and opened its doors in July 2022. “Business has been booming ever since,” Terry continues.
In December 2022, just five months after opening, Astro Buds—among thousands of other US dispensaries—were faced with a new challenge: cashless ATMs were deemed no longer sustainable for the industry.
“Losing those payment rails, it felt like the rug was pulled out from underneath us,” recalls Terry. “That was a significant challenge for a new business like Astro Buds. It was December, and it seemed like we would be left without any sort of cashless option for the holidays.”
At Astro Buds, the customer experience always comes first. “That's the only way we're going to be successful,” says Terry. So when it came time to implement an alternative to their cashless ATM, they knew exactly what they were looking for.
Cole Terry and his team knew they needed to get some form of modern cashless payment technology back online as soon as possible. “Cashless payments are preferred by our customers, so there was urgency there,” notes Terry.
And before they knew it, Astro Buds was up and running with PIN debit. “Within a week, we were back online—just in time for the holidays,” recalls Terry.
A big welcomed benefit of transitioning to PIN debit? Happier, more motivated budtenders.
It’s no secret that high rates of budtender turnover continue to plague US dispensaries. According to Headset, in both the US and Canada, 55% of budtenders who worked at any point over the previous 12 months “had departed by the end of that time period.”
Feeling happy and supported in a budtender role is important, but so is paying the rent. One way the Astro Buds team shows their budtenders they care about their wellbeing is by enabling the tipping feature on their Ingenico PIN debit terminals:
"I don't think customers mind tipping for a good cannabis experience,” says Terry. “Our budtenders are an essential part of our business, so it was important that we enabled tipping. It means our budtenders can take home a little extra at the end of the day. Plus, it's motivating for them to watch our customers enjoy the checkout experience."
Terry adds, “I find it unbelievable that there are businesses out there who would leave their budtenders hanging without [tipping]. For us, it was important. And [our budtenders] absolutely enjoy it. They’re making pretty good money, and I definitely think there's incentive there.”
With integrated PIN debit, Astro Buds can increase revenue and streamline the checkout experience with a safe, convenient, and cashless way for customers to purchase their favorite cannabis products. When discussing PIN debit’s impact on sales, Terry notes the familiarity of PIN debit processors:
“Consumers are very familiar with swiping a debit card in a retail environment, so PIN debit is just second nature. A lot of times, it's people's first choice.”
And he’s right—it’s the first choice for nearly half of all Astro Buds customers. Today, 48% of all sales transactions at Astro Buds are processed via Dutchie’s PIN debit solution. What’s more, the average order value (AOV) of PIN debit purchases is 24% higher than cash transactions—at $72 and $58, respectively.
The reduced reliance on cash also makes for a safer retail environment. “Holding cash poses a certain security risk, so minimizing that risk is hugely beneficial to us as a business,” adds Terry.
“The dedicated attention from Dutchie really helped us get off the ground and keep our doors open during the most important time of the year,” says Terry.
As for what’s next for Astro Buds? “We’re super excited about our new line of concentrates, starting with our organic live rosin,” he smiles. But he’s perhaps most excited about Astro Buds’s plans for retail growth—and the role PIN debit will play:
“In retail, we plan on launching curbside pickup soon, and we’re actively searching for a new store location. PIN Debit supports all of this by driving higher cart averages, and providing a better transactional experience for those who make all of this possible: the Astro Buds customers!”
With momentum building around the normalization of cannabis banking and payments, dispensaries with fully-integrated PIN debit will be best-positioned to accept credit cards in the future.
Dutchie is here to support retailers of all sizes with our industry-leading Payments solutions. Our integrated PIN debit solution, in conjunction with Dutchie Pay's successful launch of in-store payments, allows us to streamline your business operations with payment solutions you need—and your customers love.
Ready to grow together? Contact us today to get started.