Planning Your Dispensary’s Software Stack: What You Need to Succeed
By Stu Waters
Accounting. Security. Compliance. Menu feeds. E-commerce. Inventory Control
These are just some of the elements that every successful cannabis dispensary needs to deploy a solution for. Every business organization is really a collection of processes, and process-optimized software helps businesses get those tasks done efficiently.
It makes sense that cannabis software vendors would come up with tons of ways to help dispensary owners mitigate risk while reducing overhead costs. In the world of marijuana retail, there is simply no way you can do everything by yourself.
This is good news because if every dispensary owner had to spend all their time coding their own state-compliant point-of-sale system, very few would be able to get their business off the ground. Third-party vendors form the foundation upon which great businesses can thrive.
But choosing the right selection of vendors can be difficult. There are already dozens of providers making names for themselves in every state. Finding the right ones requires patience and research.
Cannabis Dispensary Software Options by Category
Let’s look at some of the top options available for meeting the needs of specific cannabis dispensary operations. Where appropriate, we will also list state-specific options and alternatives, since not every solution is ideal for every state’s cannabis industry.
Recreational cannabis delivery is legal in California, Nevada, and Oregon, but not in Colorado (although new legislation may change this by 2021). In territories where cannabis delivery is legal, an integrated e-commerce system is key to achieving compliance goals and reconciled inventory.
Olla is a powerful e-commerce platform designed for cannabis dispensaries and their customers. It is designed for dispensaries of all sizes, using scalable infrastructure to meet demand even during peak periods. Additionally, it includes a valuable menu feed service as well.
Dutchie is also a useful part of the cannabis industry’s e-commerce landscape. Local consumers can find your dispensary simply by entering their address. It features automated menu synchronization in real-time to prevent discrepancies and offers powerful analytics to dispensary owners as well.
The majority of cannabis dispensary transactions will take place in the shop. Since regulators demand to see evidence of every transaction, dispensary owners have a choice on their hands – either manually enter every transaction into your state’s seed-to-sale traceability platform, or implement an integrated compliant point of sale solution into your store.
Green Bits offers compliance on-demand for busy dispensaries that want to simplify their reporting processes. Instead of manually entering data, then performing time-consuming verifications (and hunting down inevitable discrepancies), Green Bits users simply scan outgoing products at the register to report to the seed-to-sale platform.
The best inventory solution for a cannabis dispensary is the one with the greatest integration options. Integration ensures that inventory data automatically updates when sales are made, when returns occur, or when inventory is adjusted from audits. Since cannabis compliance focuses so heavily on inventory, having a powerful, streamlined system is critical for long-term success.
Here, Green Bits’ point-of-sale solution delivers revenue-growing value for growing dispensaries in every state. The ability to integrate Green Bits with a broad range of third-party software – including major names like Weedmaps and Leafly, as well as every other name on this list – makes it a powerful tool in any dispensary’s shed.
Customer Loyalty and Marketing
Marketing cannabis products requires navigating a highly regulated environment. There are some marketing techniques that simply cannot be implemented without drawing unwanted attention from regulators. This leaves a few key options open to dispensary owners who want to bring new customers in through their doors.
Notably, customer loyalty programs are incredibly effective at attracting and retaining business in the cannabis industry. Vendors like Spring Big offer dispensaries the ability to build customer loyalty, boost sales, and increase foot traffic by targeting text messaging to specific consumers in the POS. The end result is better customer retention and maximized customer satisfaction.
Spring Big even includes a fully-featured customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This helps dispensary owners track and store data about their customers. This data can support SMS marketing initiatives, individual product preferences, and more.
Another area where regulatory compliance takes center stage is accounting. Dispensary owners need to develop secure, highly automated processes for bookkeeping in a cash-oriented industry like this one. Tax complications can easily lead to expensive audits and reconciliations.
The bottom line is that you cannot use a generalized system like QuickBooks and expect to remain compliant in the long term. Dispensary owners need a purpose-built accounting application like Green Bits that is fully integrated with their inventory processes.
Last but not least, every cannabis dispensary needs to have a solid, physical security plan in place. Most states have unique – but broadly similar – security requirements for businesses in the marijuana industry. Colorado requires dispensaries to have a security alarm system on all entry points and a continuous monitoring system within 20 feet of each door.
Dispensaries must also protect themselves digitally from data breaches and cyberattacks. Green Bits’ security system puts an emphasis on physical and digital security. The system creates binary logs every five minutes throughout the entire day and features data centers located in widely separate availability zones. The system relies on ultra-secure Amazon Web Services infrastructure to guarantee best-in-class security and data privacy.
Equip Your Dispensary Properly from the Start
As with any business, migrating existing processes from one platform to another during operation is risky and difficult. Without solid change management procedures in place, there is always a chance that your compliance officer will miss an important record during data migration, leading to compliance problems.
The best option for new and prospective cannabis dispensary owners is to equip the business for scalable growth from the very beginning. The sooner your dispensary switches to the most streamlined and effective suite of software tools it needs, the stronger your foundation for growth will be.