How to Choose Your Next Dispensary

Choosing the right applications and software programs to support your dispensary operations can be overwhelming. If you have been to any of the cannabis industry trade shows, you have seen slick booths with brand representatives eager to sell you their amazing payroll platform, ERP system, or customer rewards application. Everything sounds so new, looks shiny, and seems savvy, but how do you choose the right point of sale program for your dispensary? Start by scheduling a few product demos and ask these 25 questions we have compiled to help you decide. 

  1. Does the software work with your dispensary model? Your point of sale system needs to work with how you handle inventory, particularly flower; therefore, be sure to mention if you offer pre-packaged or deli-style service. 
  2. What is the order of operations for fulfilling an order? Depending on your back-of-house fulfillment processes for in-store and online orders, you want to know at what point in the transaction are items reserved and/or removed from inventory. Some point-of-sale systems reserve items from inventory when they are added to the customer’s cart. However, others may not reduce available inventory until the sale is complete. This can cause issues if you do not know and understand how fulfillment impacts your inventory quantities. 
  3. Is the point of sale system PC or tablet-based?
  4. Does the point of sale system integrate with your state’s seed-to-sale tracking system?
  5. What are the inventory audit functions? Can reconciliations be filtered by a vendor or product type? Can audits be assigned to employees blindly, meaning they can’t see the expected quantities when reconciling inventory? Do inventory audits conducted in the point of sale system push to the seed-to-sale tracking system? Can inventory adjustment permissions be limited to only certain roles?
  6. Does the program have online ordering and menu options? Is it compatible with other online ordering and menu providers? If so, which ones? How do inventory and order fulfillment work between the two? 
  7. Does the program integrate with accounting and payroll software systems? If so, which ones? Is there a lag, or is communication across platforms in real-time? Can information push between the two systems or only from the point of sale to the other program?
  8. What are the costs for subscription, setup, hardware, and maintenance?
  9. In terms of reliability, how many outages has the system had in the past 12 months? What was the shortest, the longest, and the average outage time? What improvements have been made to prevent these occurrences? 
  10. Is there compensation for outages lasting longer than a couple of hours? For example, prorating the subscription cost the next month?
  11. How many times has the company experienced a security breach? What was compromised by the breach? What provisions are in place to protect client business and customer information?
  12. How does support handle feature requests?
  13. How does the platform work for customers with multiple dispensaries? Are there add-ons or features that can be used at the cultivation or processing facility of a vertically integrated organization? 
  14. How robust are the reporting features? Can you assess the key performance indicators your business tracks from the reports available? How granular can reports be? Can you save filters to quickly access custom reports? Are reports downloadable into file formats your business uses?
  15. Cash management features are critical when assessing a point of sale system. Are registers password protected for each transaction? When closing a drawer, does the employee do a blind count and report their cash in the system? Can the system be set up to accept cash, check, rewards, gift cards, or credit cards? 
  16. What customization options are available when setting up permissions for different dispensary roles? 
  17. If the point of sale system uses a barcode scanner, how does label printing work? 
  18. Does the program track test results? Are results uploaded from the seed-to-sale tracking system or manually entered? What results are tracked potency, terpenes, contaminants, pesticides, etc.?
  19. Does the system integrate with any CRM or other marketing platforms? If so, which ones? 
  20. What rewards program features are built into the point of sale system? What customization options are available? Can members access their accounts online or using an app? Does the program integrate with any rewards applications? If so, which ones? 
  21. Is there an audit trail of changes made to prices, products, discounts, or transactions? 
  22. How is compliance with state regulations managed by the point of sale system? Does patient profile management, label printing, receipt printing, reporting, etc., comply with your state’s requirements? How does the software company keep up with and implement changes to the system as regulations change?
  23. Is there 24/7 access to tech support? If not, what hours do technicians work? What are the standard response time and resolution time for a support ticket?
  24. Ask how long your sales representative has been with the company. And how long have the training representatives been with the company?
  25. Do they provide ongoing training for new hires and for new features that are released? 

Being prepared will demonstrate to the sale representative you have high standards for the vendors with which you do business. Don’t be afraid to stop and ask them to review something particularly important to your dispensary operation. If you aren’t getting the responses you need, it’s ok to stop the demo and let them know that point of sale program is not for you. And, if after you’ve evaluated a few systems, you still can’t decide, have a couple of senior dispensary associates attend demos for your top two or three choices. Employees who have to the use point of sale system daily have valuable insights and can spot advantages and disadvantages quickly.

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touCanna is a dispensary operations management software that combines all operations in one place.

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