September 14, 2022
Operations & Compliance

Choosing a Cannabis Point of Sale: What to Look For

Lindsay Crafford
September 14, 2022

Maturing out of your existing tech stack can be bittersweet. As a dispensary operator, one of the best things you can do for your business is give it the tools it needs to grow and thrive.  

That’s especially true for cannabis POS systems. Your POS is a vital part of your retail operations, so having a lackluster one in place can be detrimental to your long-term success.

What to look for in cannabis POS software

If your cannabis Point of Sale is struggling to keep up with your plans for growth, it might be time to start shopping around. We’ve outlined the top 7 things to look for, including:

  • Ease of use
  • Thorough onboarding and support resources
  • Flexibility/scalability
  • Analytics
  • Integrated payments
  • Delivery support
  • Complex inventory management capabilities

1. It's easy to use

POS systems vary in complexity. While it’s good to have a POS that can help you complete more advanced tasks, if it’s too difficult or time consuming to complete transactions, run reports, or audit inventory, it’s not going to be a great fit.

A user-friendly POS ensures your team is spending their time helping customers—not learning the ins and outs of a complicated tech investment. Plus, when your budtenders feel comfortable using a tool as important as your POS, productivity skyrockets.

If you’re looking to switch from your current POS, ask your team what they like (or rather dislike) about it. What are their primary frustrations around using the software and hardware? Is the software confusing? Are there too many dongles? Does everything look and feel just a bit outdated? Your staff are your primary brand ambassadors, so give them tools they’ll look forward to using every day.

What to look for:

  • A sleek, intuitive software interface that minimizes training time
  • No-hassle hardware set-up
  • Support and training for both POS software and hardware, should you need it

2. The onboarding and support resources are comprehensive

You could have the most perfect POS with endless potential, but if no one is available to teach you how to use it—or deal with problems as they arise—all you’ve really done is add extra work to your plate.

Your POS partner should offer comprehensive support to get the most out of your system, like onboarding, product training, guides, and, most importantly, 24/7 support. Fast, reliable support lets you take full advantage of your POS’s capabilities, which ultimately drives better business results.

What to look for:

  • Support that’s available on multiple channels (phone, online, live chat)
  • Onboarding sessions with trained product specialists
  • An online help center
  • Training materials in the form of educational courses, videos, blogs, and webinars

3. It's flexible

Cannabis compliance regulations are constantly in flux—which means your system should be flexible enough to adapt to new situations. As we approach 2023, having a POS that integrates seamlessly with other tools like ecommerce and payments is essential.

If your current system can’t seamlessly integrate with the other platforms you use for your business, it can slow down your operations significantly.

If flexibility is a key issue, consider a comprehensive cannabis retail management platform like Dutchie. With Dutchie, you can configure your cannabis POS system to suit your business’s unique needs, and add on other functions or integrations as you grow.

4. It captures relevant business insights

It’s no secret that data helps you make more impactful decisions.

A cannabis POS with robust built-in data collection capabilities will not only give you visibility over your dispensary’s sales performance, but also help you communicate more effectively with customers, get visibility over your team’s performance, and identify opportunities for continued growth. If the POS has optional advanced analytics platforms that integrate seamlessly with your data, even better.

What to look for:

  • User-friendly reports that give you visibility on product performance, employee performance, busiest hours, top-selling brands, online vs. in-store sales, and customer purchase history
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Predictive analytics capabilities (forecasting needs before you need them)
  • A scheduler to automatically run the reports you need with minimal effort

5. It has excellent inventory management capabilities

Research suggests that between 70 and 90% of stockouts are caused by poor inventory management practices, and only 10 to 30% from supplier shortages. What’s more, studies have shown that retailers can lose up to 43% of their customers to a competitor because they didn’t have an item in stock.

Proper inventory management is crucial for any cannabis dispensary. State regulations are strict, and cannabis inventory has to be hand-delivered from the wholesale source, which means these products need to be sold on a lot-by-lot basis. Poor inventory management strategies can lead to expensive (and complicated) problems. And if you fail to manage your inventory adequately, these problems can go completely unnoticed—until regulators start auditing your retail license.

If that happens, it may result in fines, license revocation, and even criminal proceedings. As a dispensary owner, you have a clear incentive to take inventory seriously.

A cannabis POS with robust inventory management capabilities also helps you forecast what you’ll need and keep shelves stocked—virtually and in-store—with products that shoppers actually want. By spending resources on inventory that you know will sell, you’re simultaneously boosting your store’s revenue potential and keeping customers happy.

What to look for:

  • Inventory audits
  • Automated traceability
  • Reports on which brands and products are your best-sellers

6. It supports your delivery operations

Cannabis delivery increased by 25% during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Since then, Cowen and Company revealed a prediction of legal cannabis sale increases of 20-30% each year starting in 2022—with the likelihood of surpassing $50 billion in sales by 2026.

Cannabis sales are only legal when tracked, so tracing and reporting each driver is key to running a successful delivery operation. If you offer delivery services, prioritize investing in a POS that guarantees you’ll stay compliant with state regulations.

Bulk delivery is the most popular delivery method in most states, so look for a cannabis POS that enables multi-stop deliveries. You’ll want to be able to easily plan routes, print multiple manifests, and assign multiple orders to a single driver.

What to look for:

  • Integrations with METRC and Onfleet
  • Configurable compliance settings that align with your delivery SOP
  • Efficient route-building functionality and route data
  • Built-in traceability
  • Dynamic delivery model support

7. It offers integrated payments

Consumers don’t want to have to jump through hoops to have to buy their favorite cannabis products, so providing a modern retail experience is a crucial competitive advantage in the cannabis industry.

Leveraging payment solutions that allow dispensaries and their customers to escape the cash trap helps improve sales volume while reducing the risks associated with operating an all-cash business. By offering a more convenient, cash-free way to pay, you’re opening your dispensary up to more customers and bigger basket sizes.

Our data shows that dispensaries that accept cashless payments see an average increase of 25% in average order values, so search for a POS that either integrates with a third party to accept in-store debit, or has its own built-in digital payments solution (or both!)

What to look for:

  • An integrated digital payments solution, and/or;
  • In-store debit processing (provided by a third party partner)
  • Quick and secure sign-up for customers
  • Integration with the vast majority of U.S. banks and credit unions

Bringing it all together

Do your research and weigh your options to make sure that the POS you're using is a good fit for your business. The right retail software and hardware will make everything much easier.

We won’t dive into too much detail about the POS buying process, but if you need a thorough resource, check out our Cannabis POS Buyer’s Guide, which discusses how to:

  • Define the needs of your dispensary
  • Select the best hardware and software
  • Evaluate various solutions side-by-side
About the author
Lindsay Crafford
Sr. Content Marketing Manager