How to Switch Your Dispensary Point of Sale Software
Have you stuck with your dispensary point of sale system because switching seems like too much work?
Let's be honest. Changing to a new platform isn't always super quick or easy, but it's usually worth it.
The best way to approach the process is to understand it from start to finish. Then you can decide if changing to another POS provider is a good decision for your business.
Read on for a thorough walkthrough of how to switch POS software at your legal cannabis dispensary, including common challenges, tips for making the switch easier, and a visual representation of the Flowhub onboarding process.
Changing cannabis POS providers is a process.
Here are a few common challenges that dispensary owners, managers, and employees run into when switching from one cannabis industry POS solution to another:
Employee buy-in — You need everyone at your shop to be prepared to learn and understand a new software in real time.
Cost — There are generally fees associated with changing software, like one-time onboarding fees, new hardware, or cancellation fees.
Transferring inventory — All of your inventory data lives in one cannabis POS system. Some softwares are easier to transfer inventory over to than others.
New tools — Lingo and workflows may differ between softwares, like how to make adjustments or report sales. If your current hardware (including terminals, printers, and scanners) isn’t compatible with the new software, you may need to purchase and learn to use new tech.
Data management — Data (including inventory counts, customer profiles, etc.) must be accurate before transferring it to a new system. Without clean data, the information in the new will be incorrect and potentially out of compliance. On the other hand, switching to a new POS vendor may be an opportunity to fix bad data and start from a clean slate, but this can take some time to correct and implement.
State tracking — Depending on what state you’re in, there are requirements for reporting and managing inventory. Make sure you choose a software that works well with those needs and can help make the compliance process seamless.
Adoption — Training employees and yourself to use an entirely new system can take a lot of work.
The good news is many of these challenges are easy to solve.
Tips for a successful software transition
#1: Set realistic expectations
Come into the experience knowing that this will take some work. Make sure your team is on board and ready.
Each step in the onboarding process is important. Take your time to do each step correctly or you’ll risk being out of compliance down the road.
Ideally, the software you’re switching to will have a dedicated team helping you with the process. Check with them on the specifics of what to expect and how much support you will receive.
Work with your onboarding team to set a realistic “go live” date. Depending on the complexity of your business and cleanliness of your data, this could be as quick as one week, or could take several weeks. Work together to set deadlines that work for your business.
#2: Clean up your data
Understand what data you have. “Data” in this process means the information that’s in your current retail POS, including inventory counts, prices, suppliers, employee details, permissions, state tracking details, specials, tax rates, customer groups, etc.
Depending on which POS you’re currently using, you may have to make changes to your data. Different point of sale softwares usually require different fields for data. This is often a manual process.
Clean data will make the switching process easier. The messier your data, the more difficult it'll be to switch, and the more risk you’ll have on the new software. For example, if you have inaccurate inventory counts in your old POS and you transfer them to the new POS, you’ll have dirty data from day one. Use the POS switch process as an opportunity to clean up your data and make sure you’re compliant.
You may want to consider “starting fresh” with your data in the new system. It could mean more work up front, but will end up making your life much easier in the long run. Plus, you’ll know that you’re starting with clean data.
#3: Make sure all key stakeholders are involved
It’s common for only one person to be involved in the initial training. But then they struggle to train everyone else on their team.
If you train at least 2-3 people during onboarding, you’ll be able to easily delegate work and training to the rest of your team.
It can be helpful to appoint one person to be in charge of the switch process and communicating with the rest of the team on status and expectations.
Consider long-term training for any new hires after the initial onboarding time. Make sure your staff are empowered and educated enough about the software to successfully transfer that knowledge over time.
#4: Test your hardware
Test your hardware prior to switching. You want to make sure everything is going to work well together.
If you need to purchase new hardware, make sure you’ve accounted for the cost and have all your new stuff before onboarding begins.
Be wary of free hardware offers. Sometimes these turn into more of a hassle than they’re worth with broken down machines or limited functionality.
Also, be careful about software that only works with specific hardware. You don’t want your hardware to limit your software options over time.
#5: Stick to a timeline
One of the most common points of failure for cannabis retailers onboarding a new POS is taking too long to implement the software.
Dedicate time to the implementation process. You’ll get out what you put in. It is time-consuming and detailed, but setting it up correctly from the start will be worth the effort.
Set a goal with your cannabis retail implementation team and stick to it. Usually, you’ll want to be up and running within two weeks.
Step-by-step: How to switch dispensary POS software
The process of switching from or to any of the dispensary POS softwares will vary, but most will have a similar set of requirements. As an example, this next section will walk through exactly what happens when you switch to Flowhub.
We are one of few point of sale companies that dedicates a team of professionals to your implementation process. This process consists of a 30-minute kick-off call, followed by 5 one-hour meetings.
Each meeting focuses on a specific part of the set-up. You will complete tasks between meetings, and then your team will answer questions and help make sure you’re ready to move onto the next step.
Our goal is to get you up and running, compliantly, within 2 weeks. Here is a one page overview of the process detailed below.
Step 1. Set up the foundational back end
The first part of onboarding is setting up the back end of Flowhub, including:
Customer Groups & Sources
Once you have these parts of the system set up, we will meet to answer your questions and check to make sure everything looks correct.
Note: These sections can easily be edited at any time after this initial setup.
Location vs. company management
Flowhub is built for multi-location cannabis businesses, so you have fields that are set at the location vs. company level. Here's the difference:
Location Management = where you manage areas of your dispensary that can change based on store location, including employees, rooms, taxes, strains, and price profiles. Each dispensary location is set up as its own location.
Rooms is where you will set up the rooms that you'll assign your inventory to, including both 'for sale' and 'not for sale' inventory.
Strains is where all the strains for your bulk flower and pre-packaged flower inventory live.
Price Profiles is where you set bulk flower and pre-packaged flower prices.
Taxes & Fees is where you set any associated taxes or post-tax fees.
Settings allows you to set specific settings for printing labels, sales, and your inventory.
Company Management = where you set up shared information across all locations, including product catalog, suppliers, customer groups, and loyalty.
Products is where you manage your product catalog.
Suppliers is where you add inventory supplier information, including their licenses, nutrients and ingredients, and contact information.
Customer Groups is where you create and manage customer groups. Customer groups can be used for discounts, tax setup, and reporting.
Loyalty is where you set up and manage a Flowhub Loyalty program.
Customer Sources is where you add customer sources to track how customers find you.
Step 2. Add inventory
Once the back-end is configured, it's time to add your inventory.
In order to transfer your current inventory over, you need to make sure that your data is accurate, and also inclusive of all required Flowhub fields.
Required fields include:
Unit of measure
Once your inventory data is ready, you’ll download it as a CSV and upload directly into your Flowhub account.
Your implementation manager will review any questions to ensure you're adding your inventory correctly.
Then, we’ll discuss 3 options for inventory management workflows:
Importing inventory via packages (for Metrc states)
Importing inventory via CSV
Manually adding inventory
Depending on your dispensary’s data, the state(s) you operate in, and personal preference — we’ll figure out which inventory workflow is the best fit for your shop.
Step 3. Create deals and reports
Many dispensaries offer a plethora of specials, deals, or discounts, like Munchie Monday, Happy Hour, or 10% off for students.
This step goes through how to build, test, and use your discounts in Flowhub's Deals engine.
Then, we'll cover how to run pre-built reports, and how to build custom reports. Reporting allows you to successfully manage your business, so it's important that you can find any information you need. Example reports include total sales, performance by budtender, par levels, and more.
Step 4. Add integrations
If you are setting up any API integrations within our partner network, such as Weedmaps, Leafly, Headset, etc., now is the time to make sure everything is ready to go.
Similarly, if your subscription includes Greet or Stash, this is the stage to discuss best practices for using those tools to streamline operations. Note: You can always add these mobile tools and integrations later on!
Find new partners!
See our full list of integration partners.
Step 5. Train your staff
If you've been working solo or as part of a small team to set up the back-end, specials, reporting, and integrations, now is the time to make sure every single person on your staff understands how to use Flowhub.
Set up time to train your staff, send them our helpful training videos, and have them process a few test transactions in the system to really get comfortable with how it works.
Keep in mind that budtenders will have different permissions than managers or inventory specialists, so tailor your trainings to the person's roles and permissions. Always make sure you have at least two "power users," or those who know the ins and outs of the system, can troubleshoot, keep everything up-to-date, and train new staff members.
Step 6. Pre-go-live checklist
At this point, you’re just about ready to start transacting with Flowhub. But first, we'll review the go-live checklist and answer any last-minute questions.
The go-live checklist includes a double-check of everything listed above, including employees, rooms, taxes, strains, price profiles, suppliers, inventory, specials,
A couple important notes:
At this point, your instance of Flowhub should be completely set up.
We use a state-specific checklist to make sure everything is perfect from a compliance standpoint before you begin transacting.
Congrats! You're ready to go live
On your chosen day, you will stop transacting on your old system and start transacting on the new system.
While nothing major should occur here, be prepared for some hiccups, especially for staff who didn’t get as much training. It’s a new process and new system, so a slight learning curve is always expected. Plan ahead with extra staff and go live on a day with typically less sales to ensure a smooth first day.
Your implementation team will block off some of their day to make sure you’re set up for success. We will also set up a time a few days after go-live to review any final questions and workflows.
Switching dispensary POS providers doesn't have to be hard. With our transparent process, you can see exactly what needs to be done, and we're here every step of the way to support you.