A Guide to Picking the Best Dispensary Software

New dispensary owners can easily be overwhelmed by all of the decisions they face. 

Some of them are fun — what are you going to call your dispensary, and where will you set up shop? Are you going to run an e-commerce site as well as a brick and mortar dispensary? What products will you be selling?

Other decisions are daunting. 

How are you going to manage your taxes? How can you offer your customers the convenience they want and deserve — including multiple payment options — when you’re in an industry that still faces a tremendous amount of bureaucratic hurdles? How do you make sure you’re always compliant? How will you keep track of your inventory? 

There’s no “plug and play” solution that answers all of these questions in one go, but good dispensary software will absolutely give you a head start!

Finding a payment processing provider can be a challenge when you are in the cannabis market. Your business faces unique challenges that not all processors are equipped to handle.

Find out how the right dispensary software can help you take your dispensary to the next level, and how to choose the right system, in this guide.

Why You Absolutely Need a Dispensary POS System in 2022

Did you know that 80 percent of American consumers prefer to pay with a card, and that consumers are willing to spend up to 100 percent more when they can? 

In today’s post-COVID-19 world, fewer people are using cash as many businesses prefer cards to keep germs at bay.

The days in which dispensaries could thrive with a cash-only system are fading away fast — and modern dispensaries need to offer modern payment options.

No matter the type of business you run, the ability to accept cards for payment is essential. Dispensaries aren’t quite like any other business though. As a dispensary owner, you’ll face unique banking challenges. That’s where a POS System comes in.

A POS System — that is, a “point of sale system” — gives your dispensary the ability to accept card payments from your customers. Without one of these systems, you will only be able to accept cash or checks.

Most modern Dispensary POS Systems are more than just a way to accept payments from customers. Dispensary POS Systems also have a whole host of other features that can help business owners grow a competitive dispensary by running reports, keeping track of inventory, verifying customers, and even running customer loyalty programs.

All cannabis dispensary owners who are serious about running a successful business in 2022 should make choosing the right Dispensary POS System a top priority. That’s because a great POS System can:

  • Help you manage your inventory.
  • Help your dispensary stay compliant with state laws.
  • Help you increase your sales.
  • Help you improve customer experience.

The good news? As the cannabis industry is exploding, the dispensary software market is also projected to keep growing. Dispensary owners will have more and more options to choose from — and the increased competition will raise standards across the board.

Unique Challenges Dispensaries Face

As a dispensary owner, you are painfully familiar with the unique challenges you face. You have to comply with restrictions in your area on where you can operate, what you can sell, and even how you can advertise. These challenges even extend to your ability to accept payments.

Many banks are not willing or able to work with retailers in this area as the cannabis niche exists in a legal gray zone of sorts.

Because dispensaries face banking challenges, finding a payment processor can also be challenging. Though some may try to operate using a mainstream processor, software created specifically for dispensaries allows cannabis entrepreneurs to run a thriving business.

Businesses that cater to the cannabis world do exist, but dispensaries should be prepared to pay slightly higher card processing fees. Though not a huge deal, it is something to keep in mind when making your budget.

One final major challenge dispensaries face when looking for a POS system is the ever-changing legal landscape. A dispensary POS system will be equipped to help businesses ensure they stay compliant, something general POS systems won’t or can’t do.

Features to Consider When Choosing Your Dispensary Software

The cannabis dispensary software market is booming — and seasoned dispensary owners who are looking into new software options will quickly discover that they’ve got much more choice than they previously did.

You won’t just have more options, but also more features to choose from. That means you can afford to be picky!

What features and capabilities should you look for in your new software? Take a look at this list — and if you agree these features are must-haves, don’t settle for any less in your dispensary software:

  • Is the interface user-friendly? Not only will you be using the dispensary software, but so will your staff. You want to check to see that it is easy to train your team members to use the system as they serve customers. Don’t be afraid to have your employees try out the software before you invest, so you can get a feel of how everyone uses it.
  • Can you create customer profiles? Anyone who has ever worked in a store has likely heard “what did I buy last time?” from a customer. You can’t really be expected to remember every item every customer has purchased. Many dispensary software programs allow you to create customer profiles so that you can quickly answer this question and even make product recommendations based on their purchase history.
  • Can you manage your inventory? Keeping an eye on your inventory is a big part of running any kind of store, including a dispensary. Many POS systems designed for cannabis dispensaries allow you to track how much of each product is in stock, so you know when to order more, and to add information on each strain and product you have. This allows your budtenders to answer customer questions quickly and ensure the strains they’re warmly recommending are actually in stock.
  • What features does the dispensary software have to help you stay compliant? Each state has strict laws around cannabis sales. If your store is found to be in violation of these laws, you can lose your operating license. Check with the POS provider to see how they can help your business stay compliant. It may be that they alert budtenders if a customer’s purchase is going to exceed a limit, or the system may be able to help you quickly send accurate reports as required.
  • Can it help you create and manage a loyalty program? Customer loyalty programs reward customers for doing business with you and can help keep sales up. They are especially common and popular in the cannabis industry. Managing these programs on your own can be challenging. See if the POS system you are considering can help and what features this program offers.
  • Is it mobile? Your budtenders won’t just stay behind the counter. To really boost sales and provide a quality experience to customers, most will be out on the floor, meeting customers where they are. If this is important to you, make sure the software you choose can be used on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.
  • Does the software have GPS tracking to keep an eye on your fleet? Dispensary customers crave convenience in 2022, and your sales have the potential to skyrocket if your dispensary is able to make deliveries. If you’re going that route, make sure your dispensary software offers GPS tracking and that it can monitor zoning laws.
  • What systems is it compatible with? You might need your software to integrate with other systems you use, like payroll services. Always check to see what systems your potential new software works with before you make your pick.

Before you start your search for the right new dispensary software, take a few weeks to write down what features you want and ask your employees for their input as well.

Knowing what you want in advance will ensure you get the right dispensary software for your business.

How to Pick the Best Dispensary Software for You

How should you pick the best software for your dispensary? You’ll need to do some research on what the different software providers have to offer.

As you choose, consider the following questions:

  • What stage is your dispensary in? Are you just starting your dispensary, or have you been around a while and are you ready to upgrade to cashless payments? Do you want to change software providers because you are unhappy with your current one? See how your potential new software can help you meet the challenges you face.
  • What can the POS system make easier for you? You may struggle with inventory, or, perhaps you aren’t currently mobile, making it difficult to check out customers. Know what gaps you currently face and see how your potential new system can fill them.
  • What’s your budget? You might really “get what you pay for” but your budget still matters. Know what you can spend before you search and stay within your pre-determined parameters.
  • What is the dispensary software provider’s reputation? You not only want to ensure the product is a good one, with the right features, but that the company behind the product is reliable as well. Read reviews of the company online or ask if they have references they can give you or testimonials from other clients.
  • What type of support does the software provider offer? Imagine you are in the middle of a big Saturday rush and your processing server goes down. Will your new provider have support on hand at this time? Or, will you be on your own until they open again on Monday? You’ll want to ask when their support teams are available and make sure you know how to get a hold of them.

Choosing the Right Dispensary Software: A Step-by-Step Process

You have a lot to think about and remember as you search for the perfect software. Here’s a small step-by-step checklist to help you as you look for the right software for you:

  1. Take a few weeks to make a list of desired features. Get your budtenders’ feedback on what they would like to see in new software for the store.
  2. Determine your budget range stick with it.
  3. Start searching online for software provider options. Focus your search on software providers that specialize in providing services to dispensaries and other businesses in the cannabis industry. Only specialized dispensary software providers and POS systems can offer you the best services, including by broadening the payment options you can accept.
  4. Do your research on the company and its products. Do they have good reviews? Do they offer any kind of trial period? Have they been in business for ages, or are they new to the industry?
  5. Schedule a demo of any service you are interested in. This will let you see the dispensary software in action and even get to interact with it a little. You’ll also be able to ask their sales team questions.
  6. If possible, have different members of your team try out the potential new software and gather feedback from everyone.
  7. Look at the fees the software may have in addition to its purchase price (and consider hardware costs, too).

Your dispensary software will be with you every step of the way — so you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure it meets all of your needs.  

Final Thoughts

Software purchases are a big decision for any business — but for the cannabis industry, which faces unique barriers, it’s even more important.

The right dispensary software and POS systems give you the ability to process card payments, “cashless ATM” payments, and ACH transfers, which can help boost your sales and revenue. When you think about it, it’s a no-brainer! 

You deserve a software provider that understands your industry and cares about your success as deeply as you do. You deserve dedicated dispensary software that does everything you need it to.