As new legal markets come online and established states consolidate, cannabis businesses are under pressure to adapt to more stringent regulations and increase efficiency.
One primary area of opportunity is technology.
Before deciding on a POS partner, you'll need to understand what differentiates one provider from the others.
Here are 8 factors to consider when choosing a POS system for your dispensary:
1. Compliance and state reporting
If you're in a Metrc state, look for an API integration between your POS and Metrc.
Metrc is a nightmare to manage manually. Having lost or incomplete records is the easiest way to draw attention from state regulators and owners can expect to be audited.
One benefit Metrc holds over other state track and track systems is that it integrates via API. Many cannabis POS providers offer API integrations to Metrc, but only Flowhub has been built from the ground up for the sole purpose of solving the problem of compliance.
Flowhub’s API integration allows you to push data, but doesn’t allow Metrc to pull information from your stores until you are ready. Pushing sales data to Metrc is now a one-click push at the end of every business day.
Metrc 101: How to Keep Your Dispensary Compliant
If your state uses a self-managed reporting system (i.e. not Metrc, BiotrackTHC, or MJ Freeway), look for POS providers who understand your unique state needs and can accommodate those requirements.
2. Track record and trust
The cannabis industry is new and rapidly changing. New tech partners appear every day.
Verify the stability of a company before you spend resources adopting a new platform. And make sure they are the type of company you want to work with.
Some questions to consider:
- Do they work specifically within the industry, or has their software been retrofitted for it?
- Do they understand compliance and the specifics of your states' reporting requirements? Can the software satisfy those requirements?
- Have they suffered extensive downtime, security breaches, or data loss?
- Have they proven themselves capable of supporting high-profile clients? Will they be able to grow with your business and help you reach your goals?
- How responsive are they? Can you get someone on the phone quickly if you have an issue? What types of support options do they offer (phone, chat, articles, etc.)?
- Since most cannabis tech companies are startups, what information can you find about their funding? Does it look like they have lasting power?
- What are the contract terms? Do they have obscenely long terms, or questionable demands?
At the end of the day, you have to trust your cannabis partners. If you don't have complete faith in your contacts, or in the software, look elsewhere. Transparency and communication are paramount to ensure the partnership is successful.
3. Hardware flexibility
When selecting a POS provider, be careful of vendors that require you to purchase their proprietary dispensary hardware. Businesses can find themselves locked into a poor software platform because of the capital expense of hardware that is not compatible with other vendors.
Well-designed software should not limit you to one machine or even one operating system. Flowhub was designed to run on Mac or Windows, and works with desktop computers and tablets, allowing you to have greater flexibility in your hardware selection and general store flow.
How to Choose the Right Cannabis POS Hardware
4. Customer support
An essential component of software is continuous and knowledgeable customer care.
This is also one of the biggest areas of differentiation between software companies.
We hear from dispensary owners every day who can't get in contact with their POS vendor, or it takes days to get a response. This could mean days of being out of compliance, or not being able to serve their communities. That's a major issue.
Customer support and how easy it is to get help should be one of the first things you look at when assessing POS providers.
We invest heavily into customer support, with 7-day phone and email support, and a comprehensive Help Hub with articles helping you through common issues. Learn more about Flowhub customer support.
"We've been using Flowhub for over a year and have loved it since day one. The support staff has been very responsive and their dedicated developers work hand in hand with us to enhance software functionality. You're in good hands with Flowhub!Brian Sullivan, The Green Joint, Colorado
5. Standardized data
Enterprise-wide data consistency is essential for his business.
Imagine how maddening — or borderline impossible — updating a different inventory database for each store would be with over a dozen locations.
Look for POS providers with secure data storage, a way to manage data across multiple stores, and easy-to-use reporting functionality built into the software. Do your research and understand the negatives of dispensary seed-to-sale software.
The top areas you need standardized data around include:
- Sales data
- Employee data
- Employee permissions
- Tax rates
Flowhub’s central dispensary management solution gives owners the ability to make changes across any and all of their stores, remotely, in a single action.
6. Ease of use
Software must be well-designed both graphically and functionally to give dispensary staff the most pleasant and efficient experience, and increase adoption of the tool.
If the technology isn't easy and fun to use, people won't want to use it.
If your marijuana POS system is difficult to use, you will struggle with adoption and consistent use. If employees are using the system differently, you will quickly have problems with inventory, managing cannabis products, and report accuracy.Ricki Rebeiro, Owner at ElectraLeaf, Oklahoma
Training for compliance is key, and your software must make it easy for your budtenders to stay within the scope of the law. Look for automatic purchase limits, which halt any transaction over the state requirement.
Automatic label printing and child-proof container checks complete the picture, allowing your budtenders to focus more on customer interaction.
Our platform sets the platinum standard — with built-in guardrails, complete activity logging, and inventory standardization across your entire supply chain. The minimalist, modern UI is uncluttered and incredibly easy to teach.
7. Activity logs
In a compliance-based industry, it's important to know who did what, and when.
Cannabis is one of the few products to lose weight to evaporation simply as it sits on your shelves. Dropped flower and employee theft can also contribute to discrepancies that put your business at risk.
The POS provider you choose needs to have rigid rules to manage discrepancies, account for product loss, and mitigate risk.
In Flowhub, every action is logged and timestamped. When employees know that, they act accordingly. One Flowhub client in Oregon found that their losses fell from 10% to 2% following the switch.
8. Integrations with third-party vendors
A modern software suite needs to support the interconnectivity of all vendors a client utilizes.
Cannabis business are seeing the value of integrating with ecommerce solutions, online menus, in-store menu displays, kiosks, CRM, loyalty programs, data tools, and more. The POS is a main part of the business, but only one part of the larger dispensary tool stack. Make sure all your tools play nicely together and integrate in ways that streamline and save you time.
Flowhub integrates with a variety of popular cannabis partners to help you build the tool stack and customer experience of your dreams.
The decision of which company to go with for your POS should come down to your individual business goals and what you want your software to help you achieve.
However, all the factors listed above are integral considerations.
To learn more about how Flowhub, watch a demo.