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The Dispensary Owner’s Guide to Cannabis Software

Finding the right cannabis software for your dispensary might feel like a massive undertaking. Consult this guide as you build or expand your cannabis dispensary tech stack to scale your business.

 

 

 

There are plenty of distinct cannabis software solutions purpose-built for the cannabis retail environment. And, due to the unique nuances and compliance requirements in the cannabis industry, these solutions are designed specially to help dispensaries hurdle the industry’s unique challenges. As a cannabis dispensary business owner, your job is to find the software solution(s) that solve your unique business challenges. Moreover, after you’ve made a software investment, staying on top of the latest features and functions will, with some certainty, position your dispensary for sustained success.


The cannabis industry is expected to grow to more than $11 billion in 2019 and double again by 2021. California, which just opened its markets, is expected to generate $640 million in excise taxes. With that much money on the line, your business needs the right tools to manage inventory, attract high-paying customers, and more.


The Ultimate Cannabis Software Guide for Dispensaries


In this guide, we’ll give you everything you need to know about the latest cannabis dispensary software solutions. Use these expert insights as you build or refine your cannabis dispensary technology stack. This guide does not cover seed-to-sale software. For in-depth coverage of the latest seed-to-sale software, please click here. Additionally, for an abbreviated version of our cannabis dispensary guide, please click here.

Table of Contents

The Savvy Dispensary Guide to Cannabis Software

The best cannabis dispensary software is designed to assist with operational and managerial functions. Moreover, industry-leading software usually comes equipped with expert customer support and success teams to identify best practices, optimize products, assist with feature adoption, and orient your dispensary to rapid software success. Additionally, cannabis software solutions must be easy to use by both your team and customers. As a bonus, first-rate software should integrate easily with other software solutions that you use.

Here’s a list of the top cannabis software solutions:

 

Types of Cannabis Software

Point of Sale

The primary role of a cannabis dispensary Point of Sale (POS) system is to process sales. From managing inventory to processing cash flow, a well-designed POS system will improve business efficiency and organization which in turn can positively influence the customer experience. In fact, more than 25% of customers won’t visit your dispensary if they’re concerned with product availability. Moreover, state compliance regulations stipulate that every cannabis business must report data on all activity from seed all the way to sale. Reporting this data manually would take hours and any human error could result in costly fines. This is why it’s imperative to select a POS that integrates with your state’s seed-to-sale tracking system. It will reduce and in some cases, nearly eliminate the need for any manual entry, and help you maintain compliance.


An industry-leading POS software solution will:
  • Integrate with your state’s tracking system and other business software tools

  • Have a history of reliability, customer support, and stability

  • Align with your hosting preferences (cloud-based or local)

  • Streamline inventory processing and sales processes

 

 

Before investing in a POS, ask the following questions:

1.

Was the POS software developed for the cannabis industry?

Characteristics not found in traditional retail POS systems include cumulative pricing for flower and extracts, and enforcing sales weights. Additionally, POS systems designed specifically for the cannabis industry are developed to help you stay compliant.

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2

Does it integrate with your state’s seed-to-sale-tracking system?

If the POS does not integrate with your state’s seed-to-sale tracking system, unfortunately, there will be a lot of manual work to maintain compliance and keep your license. First, find what tracking system your state requires. METRC, Leaf Data, and BioTrackTHC are the most common state tracking systems for cannabis. Also, ensure that the software offers fully automated integrations to reduce the chances of human error in data reporting.

3

Is the software communication driven?

Communication driven POS systems will record sales transactions and patient preferences. They may also include tools to use that information to create marketing campaigns. This can also be accomplished through an integration with a CRM. This method results in optimal customer communication and top-performing campaigns.

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4

Is it designed to improve budtender performance?

Not all POS systems are developed with budtender performance in mind. As a system administrator, you should be able to track individuals’ performance and know who’s giving a ton of discounts. This will help you to develop training improvements.

Top POS providers:

Adilas, BioTrack, Cova, Flowhub, Green Bits, MJ Freeway, Treez, Webjoint

Customer Relationship Management

A well-designed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution streamlines and adds a personal touch to outbound communications with customers. This may include loyalty programs, marketing campaigns, and tracking customer data. Finding the right CRM for your dispensary begins with creating a short list of preferred features and capabilities. Some providers offer limited features and charge additional fees for add-ons. Other providers offer all-in-one solutions designed to initiate high-value customer loyalty programs, multi-channel marketing activities, and in-depth customer data reports.


And if you’re like most business owners, you understand the power of customer data and how important it is to be able to leverage that data to improve the customer experience. A robust cannabis CRM will give you all the tools needed to effectively capture customer information and provide customer-centric solutions like loyalty and rewards that will grow your business.


An industry-leading CRM solution will:
  • Attract repeat customers through valuable loyalty programs

  • Distribute high-value, personalized messaging to customers

  • Provide a deeper understanding of your customers’ preferences and interests

  • Provide world-class customer service, as well as superior in-store and brand experiences

 

 

Ask the following questions before deciding on a CRM partner:

1

What capabilities does it offer?

A marketing solution should be robust. Otherwise, you will need more disparate solutions — which can lead to even more gaps in your data and other integrations. Switching between different tools and dashboards is inefficient.

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What other types of software should it integrate with?

The more integration capabilities the better. Integrations streamline processes that would otherwise require manual work. Baker integrates with more than 20 other software providers including point of sale systems customer acquisition tools, in-store digital signage, and delivery.

3

Is it mobile-driven?

Mobile communications are one of the most reliable forms of customer communication for the cannabis industry. SMS text messages are a vital component to dispensary marketing campaigns. Moreover, text messages are a preferred method of communication by dispensary customers.

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What is the dependability like during busy holiday hours?

Does the CRM or marketing software solution have a history of dependability — even during the busiest times of the year? You want to make sure you are able to share important deals and promotions without any concern. Furthermore, you want to keep your online ordering, pre-order or delivery up and running. This will help reduce long lines in your store.

Top CRM providers:

Baker, SpringBig, Sprout, Splango

Digital Signage and Menu Display

The primary role of digital signage is to showcase the products available in your store and create a better customer experience. In the past ten years, the customer experience in the retail industry has changed dramatically. Now, customers demand a personalized and intuitive shopping experience. As such, leading cannabis dispensaries have taken huge strides to optimize their in-store experiences. The best digital signage and menu display software gives retailers and customers an enhanced level of customization. For example, some digital signage software allows customers to explore products on their own. With a few simple swipes on a touchscreen, customers can browse products, see pricing and even place in-store orders.


An industry-leading digital signage and display solution will:
  • Display available products, quantities, pricing, and more

  • Serve as an educational resource for customers and patients

  • Sync with other technology for automatic menu updates

 

 

Before investing in a digital signage and display solution, ask the following questions:

1

What are its capabilities and options?

What information can be displayed on your menu? You should have fields that include images, product type, brand, quantity or size, and custom description. Some other things to consider are automation and integrations, featured products, product education capabilities, reviews, be user-friendly for staff, and more.

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2

Does it integrate with your POS?

Every time an item goes out of stock or you get a new item in, your menu needs to be updated. With a POS integration, your in-store menu can automatically update based on inventory. This reduces the time spent by budtenders on updating various in-store and online menus.

3

Does it offer a touchscreen or tablet for individual customers to explore products?

While customers or patients are waiting, do they have the option to explore your products on their own? Examples of this include in-store kiosks. This feature allows iPads and tablets to be used by customers to explore your available products. They can even order their product right there in the store while they wait for the budtender.

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Top digital signage and display providers:

APOP Media, Baker, Budboard, Budtender TB, Cova, Greenscreens, Eyechronic, The Peak Beyond

Online Menu and E-Commerce

The primary role of an online menu and e-commerce is to give your customers the opportunity to explore, reserve, and order your products online. It also facilitates delivery purchases in markets where delivery is legal.

An industry-leading online menu and e-commerce solution will:
  • Enhance your online presence and grow your business through online sales

  • Provide advanced product filters based on category, weight, data, and more

  • Allow customers to checkout faster and improve the online shopping experience

  • Automatically adhere to national, state, and local online sales regulations


Before investing in an online menu and e-commerce solution,  ask the following questions:

1

Does the online menu redirect customers away from your website?

Look for menu providers that don’t redirect customers to their marketplace, but rather keep your customers on your website. Also, look for those that offer menus that are white-labeled to your brand.

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2

Is order fulfillment easy for your budtenders?

Is the process to fulfill an online order easy? Is there two-way messaging so that budtenders can communicate with the customer that placed an order? Or that customer can ask the budtender questions about their order. What is the order notification process like? For example, with Baker, orders will pop up on the screen and you can set up automated texts to send to budtenders when an order goes unnoticed for 15 minutes.

3

What additional capabilities does the solution provide?

In addition to a menu and online ordering, there are some other perks that e-commerce solutions can provide. These include two-way chat between customers and staff, in-store ordering, and loyalty programs.

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4

Does it integrate with your POS and CRM?

Similar to digital signage, integrations with the systems that help you run your sales and marketing communications is key. Your online ordering and menu should be reflective of your current product availability and active deals and promotions. Additionally, customers should be able to apply and redeem loyalty rewards for online purchases.

Top online menu and e-commerce providers:

Baker, Duber, Dutchie, I Heart Jane

Market and Consumer Analytics

The primary role of a market and consumer analytics solution is to provide you with the insights needed to make better business decisions. These solutions give you a comprehensive look into your own business and the industry as a whole. A powerful market and consumer analytics tool will give you the expert insight needed to guide and inform your business strategy. Moreover, with access to industry-wide data, your business will be better equipped to make market predictions and change course should the need arise.

An industry-leading market and consumer analytics solution will:
  • Integrate easily with inventory tracking systems

  • Generate in-store and online reports

  • Provide in-depth consumer insights

  • Provide sales, inventory, vendor, product and budtender performance

 

Before investing in a market and consumer analytics solution, ask the following questions:

1

How frequently is it updated?

Is it updated monthly, weekly, or in real-time? For something like inventory, you’ll want as close to real-time data as possible. For industry-wide reports and consumer trends, it will usually be less frequent.

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2

What level of customization is there when running reports?

Are the reports pre-built or syndicated, or are they custom? Do you have the ability to customize reports to get the exact information that you’re looking for?

3

What is the output like? How can it help you make better business decisions?

Do the reports translate to better business decisions and improved performance? The insights should also help you with making product decisions. Does it help you identify opportunities or gaps with your product offering such as pricing and brand performance? Does it help you make more accurate predictions of what products to carry, and how much of them? Analytics and reports can also help you optimize your staff scheduling and performance.

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Choose from these leading market and consumer analytics providers:

BDS Analytics, Confident Cannabis, Headset, New Frontier, MJBiz

Tips for Seamless Cannabis Software Implementation and Management

Adopting a new piece of software comes with a few requirements. The process of adopting and using the software actually begins before you even purchase the software. After all, the software you choose for your business will impact how you are able to onboard it, implement it, and use it to scale your operations as your business expands. Of course, business owners must do their homework — which software solution will deliver the greatest value to your unique business? Does the company have a long history of reliability? Are customer support and success teams well-equipped to answer your questions?

Another important (and overlooked) cannabis software homework requirement is to think about the software not just for today, but for the future. Does the software provider plan to expand its offerings, features, and capabilities? How will these developments help you scale your business? As your business grows, dispensary software must be able to centralize operations and standardize processes across multiple locations.

After you’ve done your homework, consider the following steps and procedures to streamline cannabis software adoption, implementation, and management:

 

Start by meeting with your leadership team. From software outset, coordinating with key executives and administrators ensures that all relevant personnel are on the same page. As with any major business decision, launching a new software solution requires buy-in from the entire team. As a leadership team, outline your software goals and objectives. Typically, this kind of outline requires a clear and concise view of business pain points. Are you struggling to manage and track customer data? Are you having difficulty launching new marketing programs? Have online sales flatlined? A deep understanding of business pain points will help you and your leadership team to rally behind a high-powered software solution purpose-built to solve your unique business challenges.


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Train Across Departments

After you’ve selected a software solution, train across departments. Everyone on the team should have an intimate understanding of the software. There are a few best practices when it comes to properly onboarding and training team members:

1. Create a Recorded Training:

Recording your software training is very important and beneficial to your team. Sure — you might feel that you don’t need in-depth training. However, keep in mind that the recorded training isn’t just for you — it’s for the entire team. A recorded training will serve as a valuable internal resource for your existing team and future team members. While one-on-one training is preferred, it’s not always feasible. Additionally, teams can automate the software training process by repurposing the video over and over again.

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2. Assign a Dedicated Champion:

Assign a dedicated champion to lead software onboarding and utilization. Whenever there is a question or task concerning the software, this employee should follow through, find solutions, and commit to software optimization. In many cases, dispensaries fail to centralize software responsibilities. In other cases, the responsibilities of a dedicated champion are silently taken on by someone, but never officially assigned. We highly recommend that you select and assign the role of a dedicated champion to at least two trusted individuals within your organization.

3. Avoid Oversharing:

Choosing to invest in a new software is exciting. However, a new piece of technology often means that operations, processes, and staff responsibilities will shift. It’s important to remember that these things take time. As a result, don’t rush to adopt every new feature. Instead, focus on one to two customer-oriented features. Which features will have the greatest impact on the customer experience? Also, consider how easy those features are to use and adopt — from the perspectives of both the staff and customers. Start by implementing the simplest and most impactful features. From there, slowly build on that foundation by rolling out more advanced features and capabilities.

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4. Create a Single Trusted Source:

Where do you plan to document your software goals and objectives? Where do you go if you need help from support or need to call your customer success manager? Your dedicated champion should organize all useful and important information in one location. This single trusted source is a good place to store important onboarding videos, customer success manager contact information, links to online knowledge base articles, and more.

Coordinate With Customer Support Teams

Next, align with the provider’s customer support team. Access to customer success managers is an integral component of any successful onboarding program. Additionally, customer support teams are always on-hand to answer questions and orient you and your team to software success. As a best practice, consider scheduling a monthly huddle with your customer success manager. Use this as an opportunity to ask software-related questions. Additionally, it’s a good idea to ask about upcoming or unreleased features. This kind of foresight can be especially beneficial when it comes to staying ahead of the curve, outpacing competitors, and more.

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Commit to Ongoing Software Iteration and Development

Finally, as new features roll out, commit to ongoing software iteration. Be sure to proactively review and benchmark software goals and objectives against these new features and capabilities. Additionally, prioritize the software features and functions that you didn’t implement during the initial rollout. With each new feature, look for ways to further optimize each process, whether it be marketing, customer loyalty, tracking, and more. Again — if you have any questions or concerns related to these new features, customer support teams should be available to streamline implementation and optimize internal efficiencies.


Baker: The Ultimate Cannabis Software Suite

Baker Platform Overview (1)

 

As you can see, there are a variety of cannabis software solutions purpose-built to help you hurdle challenges related to customer relationship management, marketing, data analysis, and more. As an industry-leading cannabis software provider, Baker has helped thousands of dispensaries successfully acquire, message, and retain customers through an industry-leading, yet easy-to-use, cannabis CRM platform. Specially designed for dispensaries, the Baker platform helps business owners communicate with customers, distribute discounts and promotions, manage online ordering, and enhance the in-store experience.

 

At Baker, we believe the cannabis shopping experience should be as comfortable and personalized as it is in every other retail environment. Unfortunately, because of strict policy and antiquated technology, business owners have struggled to achieve significant traction. With expertise in retail, technology, and cannabis, we have created an industry-specific software to help dispensaries drive revenue, build engagement and develop customer relationships.

Fill out the form to request your personalized demo: