Are you wondering what makes a good tech stack for dispensaries? The list below lays out 10 of the most important parts of a cannabis dispensary tech stack and dispensary software recommendations.
Selling weed is no longer a shady business (although still a cash business in many cases). And along with that amazing shift in our legal status, no longer tax-free or unregulated. The legal cannabis market is continually evolving with different regulations in each state and local market.
Because the cannabis industry is growing more saturated with more retailers and brands available for cannabis users to choose from, it is increasingly difficult for dispensary owners and operators to stand out and navigate compliance to connect with new customers.
The result is often a race to the bottom in pricing.
But resisting the urge to compete on price alone is important for retailers and wholesalers (including the farmers that grow this magical plant!). Disappearing margins add another stress point for many smaller dispensary retailers who have invested their personal savings and are in direct competition with big-money players.
A new level of sophistication is required to successfully operate and grow a dispensary. That’s where the tech stack can make all the difference.
What combinations of dispensary software and hardware can equip a team for success?
A seamless and integrated tech stack can remove hurdles and identify opportunities. It can also provide a clear picture of data (and determine if you own your own data or are giving it away to be used by anyone willing to pay for it!). Connected and integrated processes show the cannabis retail operator what is working and what isn’t. So, if you want to know how to run a profitable dispensary, establish an intentional and effective tech stack!
Point of sale systems are a key component of the dispensary tech stack that impacts operations and data at all levels: inventory management, staff organization, sales process, digital marketing, data analysis, customer loyalty, brand partnerships, and more.
As a crux in the dispensary ecosystem, it’s important that the point of sale is the genesis and point of truth for your data. Operators don’t want to rely on outside systems to generate and moderate content.
Controlling the input in this crucial system will make for a consistent representation across internal and external platforms. There are also different uses for different roles — daily use in stores, purchasing, marketing, and as a source of data for leadership decisions.
Understanding the value of the POS is step one to setting up an effective tool, but what is the best point of sale system for dispensaries?
The list below covers 7 of the best point of sale systems for cannabis retail.
Dutchie is a main player in the cannabis technology space and has a strong foothold, so it’s not going anywhere.
Formerly Leaflogix, the Dutchie POS is one of the most widely used systems for a good reason.
Benefits include easy customization and control as well as seamless integration with most other systems as well as a full stack of solutions from seed-to-sale.
Laser focused on cannabis inventory management software and point-of-sale processes, Flowhub has had its fair share of problems. This includes some poorly timed system crashes in the past few years. But it has been able to allocate resources to address those issues.
The launch of Flowhub Maui in 2022 also provided retailers with more control and customization opportunities.
Offering a wide variety of cannabis retail software, Cova’s solutions cover each step of the process from the time inventory comes in through the sale (including eCommerce and card payments).
Treez has an easy-to-use interface that works well at the cash register and on most mobile devices and provides an integrated POS and card payment system.
Another POS system with integrated card payment processing capabilities, Blaze takes it one step beyond the dispensary walls with robust delivery management.
The seed-to-sale software is a great inventory management tool for vertically-integrated operators.
POSaBit software appears to be geared towards solving some perceived deficiencies of the cannabis retail industry, including card payment processing.
The integrated payment system is bolstered by the Pocket POS, allowing budtenders to complete a sale from behind the counter, on the sales floor, or even curbside.
Canada’s number one point of sale system, Buddi facilitates online sales with a fully-integrated online payment system and is set up to work well within the Canadian regulatory environment.
Want to know how to make your POS data an asset that informs business decisions?
Online order capabilities for in-store pickup and/or home delivery where available open up a whole new potential for dispensaries. Not only does the capacity for order volume and fulfillment increase, but new channels of customer communication and data gathering are established.
Menu embeds for websites, cannabis marketplaces, and user-generated content tied directly to products have all become key components of the modern-day dispensary. Most importantly, eCommerce capabilities offer a new channel of customer acquisition that allows savvy dispensary operators to understand the cost of acquisition, lifetime value, and customer loyalty. It can also show what levers can be pulled to impact the key metrics that indicate the success or failure of any retailer.
eCommerce is an essential channel of customer acquisition that increases lifetime value and loyalty of cannabis customers. The cost of a new customer can be difficult to identify and varies between cannabis marketplaces and embedded menus.
Marketplaces are among the most authoritative listings and come with a premade customer base. Free options are often available to simply list location details. Customization capabilities vary by platform but most menus can fit your dispensary branding at some level.
Many marketplaces have brand functionality as well. They can collect assets from producers, verify products in retail locations, collect product reviews, and engage customers from a variety of perspectives.
Marketplace pages listing specials and deals listing pages are usually paid placements. Consider the cost of each order placed and how to maximize that spend.
There are multiple customer journeys to consider, including product-to-location vs location-to-product. Deep linking capability creates opportunities for savvy MLO operators to establish sophisticated and effective customer journeys. Listing on multiple eCommerce channels is common practice for dispensaries and can help grow market share.
eCommerce is an essential component in the dispensary marketing tech stack and directly impacts several KPIs, including revenue.
The list below details 6 of the best cannabis eCommerce platforms.
Of course, the first recommendation is the same as with point of sale software. Dutchie eCommerce offers something for all sizes, from simple listings to a fully-customized and SEO-friendly menu embedded on the dispensary website.
The 2022 upgrade allows simple website menus to utilize the content from product descriptions and photos to rank for searches about cannabis products and categories.
Weedmaps has a well-established marketplace that has acquired a solid consumer base of its own, estimating over 16 million users. It offers a robust eCommerce solution for dispensaries, but also provides allows cannabis brands to control the way their products look on menus.
Weedmaps is continually creating new value for their clients and stay relevant for cannabis consumers. The downside of this platform is simply the high price to use the complete set of services.
Positioned in the market as more than an eCommerce platform, Leafly provides in-depth cannabis education from the plant, to strain information, to product and brand info, and reviews.
With the increase in customer searches for particular brands, products, or strains, the robust content on this platform could be a differentiator. The easy path to purchase from educational content are an opportunity to connect with highly engaged consumers.
A relatively new cannabis eCommerce system, Jane is all about the technology.
It offers more control and customization opportunities for both retailers and brands. Many retailers chose this platform for the embedded website menu so they can have more control over the look and feel.
The private marketplace option also allows multi-location operators to route customers from product to location rather than requiring that process to start by choosing a location.
Olla is a self-described top shelf ecommerce platform for cannabis retailers. It is not only focused on the look and feel, but also driving top tier conversion rates in the website eCommerce environment.
The emerging trend of customers searching for brands, products, or strains online is one reason to consider an SEO-friendly menu. Dispense is focused on supporting new customer acquisition by offering high ranking SEO menus.
Want to know how to make increase your eCommerce traffic?
Loyalty programs are critical to the long-term success of any dispensary. They increase customer retention and lifetime value. They also offer insight into how to get more quality customers.
Regulations and restrictions on many of the standard channels for customer engagement are difficult if not impossible for cannabis retailers. Loyalty programs establish a relatively reliable channel for customer communication with analytics available. Most loyalty software has the ability to send messages via SMS/MMS, email, and push notifications connected to custom apps.
The ability to track data, segment audiences, and learn customer behaviors can increase the impact of all your dispensary marketing campaigns. Expand strategies that work into external marketing and even inform purchasing decisions with your loyalty program data.
Loyalty program strategies include decisions like the basis for point accumulation, rewards structure, and campaign automation.
The 3 dispensary loyalty options listed below are some of the best tools available for dispensaries.
One of the leading dispensary loyalty systems, AlpineIQ also offers a brand CRM system. Some of the key features of AlpineIQ are the custom wallet app, automated communications flows, and in-depth customer segmentation and audience creation.
When integrated with the dispensary POS software, data can also inform future campaigns by offering the right specials to the right groups. Two-way integrations with most cannabis point of sale systems make the process easy for budtenders and customers.
The leading competitor with AlpineIQ, SpringBig faces the same challenges and utilizes very similar solutions.
The primary differences between the dispensary loyalty programs can be boiled down to pricing and customer service.
One challenge for retailers using either of these loyalty software services is to effectively drive sign-ups and app downloads. Automation capabilities and templates are available and basically the same as Alpine IQ. Both save time and boost the CLV of loyalty members.
Acquired by Weedmaps in 2021, Sprout has some advantages that come with operating within the larger WM Technology ecosystem. Access to the customer base and data from the marketplace can’t hurt the long-term potential for this cannabis CRM system.
Looking for some good ideas for your dispensary loyalty program?
Making informed decisions using actionable data analysis sets up dispensary operators for success, regardless of potentially volatile market conditions.
Cannabis retail can be very successful but it’s often more of a struggle to survive than the booming “green rush” perceptions many of those entering the industry still hold.
Point of sale systems offer a good view of basic KPIs if you’re entering complete, quality data. Sophisticated retailers can set themselves apart from the pack by taking data from POS systems to understand customer behavior and team performance. This gives dispensary retailers the ability to quickly adapt to market trends.
The five tools listed below are some of the most effective data analysis software for dispensaries.
This suite of business intelligence tools for dispensaries collects information POS systems, marketing channels, and competitive market data. The software allows dispensary owners to see how products are priced in stores around them and what is selling best in their local market.
HyperPerformance provides a comprehensive view of internal and external data. A single hub gives dispensary owners quick views of key metrics and data analysis for purchasing, marketing and store operations.
This dispensary software eliminates the need for spreadsheets and empowers every role to make informed decisions.
BDSA is an incredible resource for anyone looking to get into the cannabis industry or expand into new markets. Its globally focused data includes consumer behavior insights, market trends and forecasts. The addition of retail sales data adds value for dispensary owners looking to understand their position relative to their local market.
With a focus on the industry as a whole, New Frontier offers data that is similar to BDSA in the value to operators looking to make larger strategic decisions, like what markets to enter, what sort of product category mix to carry, and how customer buying behavior is changing over time.
Headset’s focus on consumer insights, purchasing behavior and retail trends offers value to retailers of all sizes. It is one of the most established cannabis data software providers.
Also focused on aggregating data from a variety of sources, Happy Cabbage provides multiple views of data from inventory, marketing, and budtender performance.
Want to know learn more about accessing cannabis data?
Hiring and training new budtenders is a consistent need for many cannabis dispensary owners. This process can be never-ending and get in the way of the store management team.
Educated, well-trained budtenders make a huge difference in the customer experience and a dispensary’s ability to increase key metrics, including average order value and customer lifetime value.
Cannabis brands can take advantage of online budtender training platforms too. Not only do brands get to train budtenders about their product, but they can also help share the cost of creating educational content with their retail dispensary partners.
The following four tools can help increase a dispensary staff’s knowledge about cannabis and retail sales.
This is an online cannabis training platform offering courses that accommodate all of the training needs of the budtender or team entering the cannabis industry.
Brand-generated product training courses and custom courses created by dispensary owners are available. Create custom courses for onboarding and general cannabis education.
Budtender incentives are provided by cannabis brands. Completed modules prompt a reward that can be redeemed. Product feedback is often included in this process. The software is a great value-add for budtenders, dispensary managers, and cannabis brands.
TopTender is focused primarily on general cannabis education. One specific area of emphasis is understanding the regulatory environment. Compliance training courses are valuable for many roles of the dispensary team, including the corporate offices of larger companies.
Sage is an online training platform that offers dispensary training in addition to brand and product training with content provided by cannabis producers.
This approach adds excellent value to cannabis brands that often struggle to connect with the budtenders that ultimately sell their products, and for dispensary operators that are looking to level up their dispensary staff.
The cannabis training on this platform is focused on the science of the cannabis plant and processing products. The dispensary training component is available.
Trichome Institute offers paid training packets with certifications or badges offered as an incentive to complete courses.
Looking for some good topics for your retail staff training?
Play dynamic, branded content on the dispensary sales floor. Interactive menu displays, TV screens, and even customers’ phones can all support the dispensary staff.
In-store displays are often overlooked or underutilized. But it can be a great way to add to the staff’s sales ability and help create an intentional customer experience. Digital displays are also an opportunity for brand engagement or promotional messaging.
Combining visual content surrounding a product, brand, or collection with available menu items and purchase-related calls to action is a good way to utilize these in-store platforms.
Additional functionality of interactive screens offers multiple advantages, including kiosk ordering capabilities and customer engagement opportunities like collecting contact information.
Cannabis retail displays are an emerging opportunity for dispensaries and creative uses are still being discovered. Digital advertising displays for dispensaries are emerging as well, which creates multiple uses for cannabis creative content.
Limited digital display advertising opportunities outside of the shop are available for cannabis retailers to showcase dynamic content for a specific audience.
The following three tools help dispensaries share their messages in creative and dynamic ways.
HyperVisual helps marketers save time and present a consistent and compelling message. It combines curated menu displays with dynamic, visual content. Display on in-store TV screens, fill kiosks with strategic messaging and menus, and even send a link directly to customers in your loyalty program.
Another benefit is the ability to manage all screen content from a single dashboard.
Enlighten is a full-service digital display technology and software that has capabilities for dispensary retailers and offers advertising platforms. From dynamic content to interactive displays to experiential content, Enlighten can handle any visual creative you can imagine.
TouchTunes offers advertising in establishments for customers aged 21+, like bars for example. While not currently an industry of focus for their primary services, advertising through TouchTunes is available in most markets.
Want to control your digital menus and dynamic marketing content from a single platform?
One of the unique hurdles of the highly regulated cannabis industry is processing cashless payments. Credit cards have evolved to the point where you don’t even need a physical card in many cases — just tap your phone to pay.
But many cannabis retailers still struggle to accept anything but cash. This both increases the security risk at shops that are cash-heavy and limits many customers’ ability to pay for larger tickets.
Average Order Value (AOV) is a key metric for retailers in all industries and can be severely impacted by available payment options. Cashless payment systems had a less-than-perfect history, but have made improvements as the industry moves slowly towards access to standard financial services. It is also worthwhile to investigate an eCommerce card payment system, with benefits that include more comprehensive data.
Paybotic is a leading option for dispensary operators looking to add card payment capabilities to their tech stack. It offers cannabis payment processing that is integrated with many other cannabis software and navigates the complexities of the industry.
Aeropay offers services beyond cannabis but still navigates the industry to make card payments easy for cannabis dispensary retailers. With no ATM fees, Aeropay is a competitive option.
Many cannabis point of sale systems are now offering integrated card payment solutions. Check with your account manager or look into some of the systems outlined earlier in this article.
Consistent, reliable team communication empowers dispensary retail staff and provides insight for leadership. From daily operations like opening and closing reports to strategic alignment around team initiatives and company goals, the system for internal communication is important.
It doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, simplicity is better. Collect information in one location and make it accessible to people throughout the organization. Create consistency, top to bottom.
Establish the basis for accountability. Track the actions that help achieve goals and provide a record of historical data to identify future opportunities.
The following list includes some of the top software for dispensary team management.
Consistently adding to the software offering, a business Google account will level up your dispensary leadership team’s connectivity and insight into the entire team.
Similar to the benefits of Google, the Microsoft Office suite offers the necessary functionality and connectivity to run a growing team.
Taking organization to the next level, Project Management tools are only as good as the way in which they are used. Pick a software, but also establish the way it is used by your team.
Not exactly the first thought when it comes to cannabis dispensary software needs — the overall digital footprint for a dispensary requires a collection of software subscriptions and accounts and can have a significant impact on the success of a cannabis dispensary.
Consistency is key, both with brand positioning and dispensary details and information. Cannabis SEO impacts the ability to be found online by local cannabis customers. Searches for cannabis products or dispensaries are a reliable source of customer acquisition.
Marketers and operators with experience in the industry know the value of reliable digital channels amidst strict regulations. With online sales increasing across the board, cannabis retailers have an opportunity to gain market share and set themselves up for long-term success with a few targeted tools.
The channels listed below are a great place to start building a complete online presence.
Whatever your choice of CMS — WordPress, Shopify, Hubspot, etc. — a website is a key to dispensary success and the most important tool to have. Here are the many ways a quality, optimized website can increase traffic to your dispensary:
Participation on many social media platforms is a source of frustration for dispensary operators, but it is still a digital platform that should be utilized.
Traditional platforms like Instagram and Facebook are a great way to showcase your brand identity (rather than promoting sales) and a good opportunity for direct communication with customers and brands.
Community guidelines prevent the full use of these channels for cannabis brands. Alternative use of social media platforms, including connecting directly with customers through direct messages or commenting in Reddit threads, is another way for cannabis dispensary owners to engage in the larger conversation with customers and industry peers.
Traditional media isn’t the juggernaut it used to be, but press releases are a great way to build high-authority local content online. Local media outlets can also extend the reach of a dispensary’s marketing, especially when running community outreach campaigns.
Creating a complete and consistent set of dispensary information across many local listing placements increases your ability to be found. eCommerce marketplaces, industry listings, and location-based listings are all examples of platforms to keep consistent.
Terrayn’s HyperLocal SEO service takes this completely out of your hands, which is great for such a tedious and dynamic task.
You may be asking yourself, what do I do now? Like any complex challenge, saying the answer is way easier than implementing it.
The first step is a review of your current tech stack. What services are duplicated? Where are the gaps? What are the opportunities that will actually make a difference for your dispensary business?
Then it’s time for the large task of adding, combining, or reducing softwares used to create a complete system that supports your goals and your team’s ability to achieve them.
Connecting systems and automating tasks increases capacity and allows the team to focus on making incremental improvements where systems can’t. This is an ongoing struggle in a continuously changing environment.
Seeking quality partners to support your team is an essential part of establishing an effective dispensary tech stack.
At Terrayn, we know how much it takes for you to run your dispensary. We understand the challenges you face and the competition you're up against. While our primary focus is driving traffic to dispensaries, our team includes former budtenders, store managers, marketing directors and a former store owner. We love to pull together our collective experience to offer insight and solve problems.
We work directly with dispensary operators on a daily basis to overcome the challenges facing the industry.
Schedule a Strategy Session with a member of the to talk about how we can help you achieve your goals!
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