A Guide to Buying Dispensary Software

In 1996, California became the first state in the nation to legalize medicinal cannabis. To make a purchase, patients with medical marijuana cards needed to join a nonprofit “collective” and “make a donation.” By filling out the requisite paperwork to join, you instantly became a member of a community. It was joyous. It was disruptive ⎼ patients were thrilled to access legal weed, and from a management and operational point of view, it was pretty basic. 

Today, the best dispensaries enthusiastically embrace the community spirit and treat their customers as members. But what was simple back in the day has evolved into a complex retail, distribution, and regulatory system. For dispensary owners, it starts with creating an organized, versatile, and customer-centric business, and the key is investing in dispensary software. It’s the hub of everything, and if your backend operations are unwieldy, it quickly manifests into poor customer service. The goodwill you’ve worked so hard to develop may slowly evaporate like stale bongwater left in a forgotten bong in the closet. The solution is intuitive dispensary software that seamlessly integrates into your entire dispensary business. But what features are important? Is it off the shelf, retooled software, or an entirely new POS platform built by cannabis professionals specifically for dispensaries? By creating this guide, we’ll walk you through some of the priorities that you’ll want to research and consider when investing in marijuana software.

What Are the Key Features of Dispensary Software?

Dispensary software should make everyone’s lives easier, from the receptionist to the purchasing manager, to delivery drivers out in the world. It’s a lofty, yet attainable goal if the platform includes:

  • An easy to use experience. 
  • Effortless customer check-in, including self-check-in, even from the dispensary floor. 
  • Mobile app access (via iOS and Android devices) to HIPAA-compliant customer records for budtenders on the floor.
  • Delivery service integration.
  • Accurate, real-time inventory data with First In/First Out (FIFO) capabilities. 
  • Seamless metrc integration or with other state-mandated compliance platforms. 
  • Mobile sales processing for budtenders on the floor. 
  • Secure, encrypted data. 
  • Data reporting features that do not require a software engineer to utilize. 
  • For vertical businesses, integration with an entire suite of supply chain tracking software.
  • One platform for multiple dispensary locations. 
  • Customizable features and stellar customer support by actual humans. 

We are proud to say that cannabis trailblazers built the BLAZE Retail POS software. We asked ourselves what we wanted to see in retail software, identified the real-world needs, and then made it happen. We didn’t convert BLAZE Retail from an existing operations platform, and its features didn’t set the bar, it is the bar. Take a moment and visit our BLAZE Retail page and see for yourself. 

Regulatory Compliance is Non-Negotiable

Part of society’s bargain with the regulated cannabis community is to ensure that cannabis sales are safe, legal, and for most states, tracked down to the gram. Regulatory compliance puts tremendous pressure on cannabis retailers and resistance is futile. Mistakes can be costly and the bottom line for every successful dispensary is that operations software must play a central role, day in and day out. Integrating with metrc and other state-mandated seed to sale tracking platforms is of the utmost importance. 

BLAZE Retail provides several ways to tame the compliance beast. Most importantly, all sales data sent to metrc takes place in real-time. Using our built-in transfer templates, a single keystroke uploads the data to finalize transfers. This minimizes the risk of data entry errors because we eliminate repetitive entry of the data set. It’s operationally efficient because it frees employees to take on alternate tasks. We also simplified dealing with never-ending metrc tags. BLAZE Retail automatically pulls all the tags making it easier to build and track new packages. 

From the very beginning of the software design process, we designed BLAZE Retail to include critical mobile features. Our iOS and Android-friendly mobile apps can scan products from the employee’s phone, access manifests, and even accept and track product inventory. We also believe it’s critical to include barcode integration support throughout the product life cycle. Simply scan a product’s barcode into a PO for an internal transfer, or scan a product for sale. This is also inherently important for those dispensaries which offer delivery services. It’s a driving factor for why we partnered with Dutchie which provides delivery software for the best products from the leading cannabis brands. Similar to our approach and relationship with metrc, we want to ensure that our partnerships provide best in class service to our clients. Again, it all comes back to putting the dispensary’s customers first because when we do, everybody wins. 

Turning Abbreviations into Assets

CRM. KPI. LTV. ROI. Astute business professionals often spend hours strategizing how these concepts (and others) will drive and hopefully improve business performance metrics. At BLAZE, we view these abbreviations as assets. The worldwide, regulated cannabis industry is in its infancy. Be that as it may, we encourage cannabis retailers to welcome traditional business concepts, markers, and strategies into their operational plans. After all, just because we’re a young industry doesn’t mean that we can’t be smart about it. Understanding what the data is telling you is impossible if you don’t have reliable access to accurate, systemic information. One of our founding principles is to ensure that our clients understand what the data is telling them. Our dispensary software embraces that principle. For Lauren Fontein, Co-Founder of The Artist Tree Dispensary and Delivery in West Hollywood, California, BLAZE Retail set the standard. “We chose BLAZE Retail because it was the best POS option for streamlining store operations while ensuring compliance with metrc. For example, BLAZE’s compliance management integration helped expedite our inventory intake process.” Lauren explained that BLAZE Retail also works particularly well for their three-step ordering process:

(1) A budtender builds each order with the guest on the sales floor through an iPad and inputs it into BLAZE Retail.

(2) A fulfillment employee accesses and packages the order.

(3) A cashier checks out the order at our register. 

“The multi-step process helps us avoid errors,” Lauren said. “Additionally, BLAZE’s membership management feature allows us to customize product recommendations and provide individualized customer experiences for guests by identifying what guests are most interested in.”

Membership Has Its Benefits

For those of us from a certain age, many will likely recall the famous American Express credit card commercials that intoned “membership has its privileges.” The brilliant slogan ran from 1987 to 1996, a virtual eternity for advertising campaigns. The concept of membership conveys a feeling of inclusiveness and being a part of something greater than ourselves. Membership in the professional cannabis community means taking care of and serving the people who seek responsible access to this medicinal and mystical plant. A customer’s relationship with a dispensary and delivery service is unlike any other existing business relationship. Our job at BLAZE is to help our dispensary clients better understand, interact with, and serve their valued customer members. We’re here to help. Schedule a demo or simply call us for more information.  

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