The average cannabis shop is a far more complex retail environment than you might initially imagine. Not only do you face the same performance burdens as other businesses, you have to deal with significant legal and compliance requirements. Choosing the right technology infrastructure for your store can go a long way toward mitigating these challenges. At a very basic level, you’ll need Wi-Fi network, computer, and POS and Inventory management system to run your store. To make sure that customers can find you, you’ll also need a website and if you want to offer the ability to order online, delivery, and display live menus, you would need an ecommerce website. For more details about technology you need when you open a store, you can read more here.
Whether you start with just the essential technology, such as a POS or inventory management system, or opt for a full retail ecosystem (CRM, ERP, HR, Menu Boards etc), here are the key areas of consideration:
The number one concern for retailers is ensuring they always stay 100% compliant with federal, provincial, and local regulations. A cannabis retail POS can help you accomplish this by preventing your budtenders from making sales outside store hours, helping them monitor daily sales limits and inventory levels, and storing your reporting data according to requirements. It backs this up with a robust reporting suite that includes the ability to run a full audit history on your business at any time.
The overall reliability of your technical infrastructure is another primary concern for retail owners. A system crash can quickly land you out of compliance when it comes to regulations, disrupt your supply chain, and end up costing you thousands of dollars in lost sales — and unfortunately, many operators learned this the hard way when one of the biggest cannabis tech companies suffered a service disruption, leaving their clients to either suspend business altogether or record sales by hand. Invest in a solution that can document its uptime, has numerous redundancies, a sophisticated cloud-based data repository, and an offline processing mode, and you will be fully prepared to continue operations even on your busiest days or while dealing with technical issues.
With the average lifetime value of a retail customer being so high, it only makes sense to do as much as you can to improve the customer experience your store offers. An integrated POS that provides product details at the touch of a button can turn all of your budtenders into experts to help guide customers through their purchasing journey – customers return to stores they trust. You can also build brand recognition and loyalty by allowing customers to order online and pick up the product in-store or using a tool such as an interactive app that allows customers to learn about the product at their own pace, along with digital signage and menus that help improve and streamline the retail experience for users. You can read a case study here about a successful retailer’s vision for a unique customer experience.
Software can often create more problems than it solves. Dealing with heavier burden when it comes to training time for your staff (particularly important given the relatively high turnover in the industry), and the increased human error that results from using an overly complex technology platform will definitely impact your profit margins and slow down your sales times. A POS designed specifically for dispensaries can help alleviate these issues, allowing you to sell more product in less time.
Finally, you’re going to need to evaluate your need for computer equipment throughout your operation. At the bare minimum, you’ll need one set up at reception for processing intake, and one in the back for tracking inventory. You may choose to supplement this with tablet devices for a self-serve experience, and you’ll also need a variety of accessories, such as the barcode scanners and receipt printer.
You’ll definitely need to set up Wi- Fi at your store, and you’ll also need a point-of-sale system to complete and track all your transactions, manage your inventory, and keep your data safe and secure for reporting purposes.
Regulators take the security and privacy of consumer data very seriously. In Canada, you’ll want to ensure that your system is fully compliant with the requirements of PIPEDA — the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Of chief concern here is your customers’ personal information, such as their names, ages, and ID numbers. U.S. regulations can differ from state to state, but consistently require you use a system that keeps personal data secure.
Having the right technology in your store can significantly improve efficiency and increase profits. It also requires a lot of investment, so it pays to get it right the first time. To help you consider your needs and weigh the advantages of the options available, we’ve compiled a guide of 20 key questions you should ask when buying dispensary technology.