If you want a successful recreational cannabis retail business that will stand the test of time, you will need to stay ahead of the competition by implementing the best technology possible throughout your store. Getting it right at the beginning will allow you to adapt quickly to industry changes relating to compliance regulations, consumer shopping experiences, and inventory management.
Compliance and Security
As stated in A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis In Canada by the Government of Canada, shopper and retailer safety and security is a top priority. To name a few, there will be regulatory requirements such as maximum grams sold per person, age restrictions to ensure no minors gain access to products, and proof that the products being offered are from licensed producers only. Technological systems such as ID scanners, security cameras, and secured dispensers can be implemented to manage this compliance and enforcement efficiently.
Secured dispensers are commonly known for monitoring tobacco, but they are translating to cannabis inventory management where prepackaged items can be securely dispensed by budtenders only. They verify that customers are legally allowed to make a purchase and process the sale via the point-of-sale system (POS). Then the secure vend machines dispense the packaged product with the push of a button. These systems fit under counters or can be located in the back of the house to offer a central distribution point. We don’t know yet if they will be permitted in every province until the final regulations are determined, but retailers are testing the capabilities of these machines now to determine their viability. The bonus of secured dispensers is that retail space is maximized to enhance the shopping experience by incorporating all inventory into a safe and secure system that is only accessed by authorized individuals.
POS Systems and Seed-to-Sale Tracking
The most important technology to consider is your store’s POS system. It will tie into the customer’s experience and business operations, such as inventory management. Select a robust, adaptable, and high performing POS that has been created to specifically manage cannabis retail sales. These systems will use either on-site servers or cloud-based technology that stores data in a safe and secure way. If you’re considering multi-unit retail store locations, cloud-based data storage is highly recommended because it offers further product purchasing flexibility, multi-unit analytical reporting, and scalability for further locations.
Your POS, must offer seed-to-sale tracking via radio frequency identification (RFID) barcodes. Seed-to-sale tracking offers the ability to monitor every stage in the product’s cycle. It allows for the monitoring of plants and includes strain notes about potency and genealogy, crop yields, and nutrient and watering cycles. Through the processing and manufacturing stages, it offers inventory management such as barcode conversion. At the point of sale, you can automatically keep track of expiration dates, test results, and product recalls, all through a single interface.
Seed-to-sale tracking also assists in all facets of compliance. You will have access to transport manifests, track how near the purchase limit your customers are in real time, keep an account of waste and moisture loss, and even ensure that you have compliant labels that have been customized with your own branding.
Hardware integration, such as wireless scanners, can streamline your store’s workflow by tracking every action and updating information in real time.
Your POS should also be at the heart of customer analytics. Out of the box, a good seed-to-sale system will provide automated reports including financials, sales, purchasing, and human resources.
An important feature to look for is that of accessing your POS by any Internet-enabled device. Not only can you manage your store on the go, you can also save money by not having to purchase expensive, specialized hardware.
In order to be competitive, stores need to elevate the guest shopping experience. Customers need to feel comfortable and safe in this emerging and unique shopping environment. When planning décor and layout, some storeowners are implementing digital signage into their locations to further drive education and awareness. Digital signage allows for consumers to obtain real time product information, including images, inventory levels, usage details, and CBD and THC content along with pricing. It enhances the shopping experience while allowing customers to take in information at their own pace. It can translate into additional revenue for storeowners, as customers make purchases based on knowledge and experience.
Your POS must offer seed-to-sale tracking via radio frequency identification barcodes.
In addition to digital signage, retailers are implementing in-store tablets that are linked into the POS system. Customers can search and learn about strains while they’re in the store and budtenders can make sales on the tablets.
Be sure to do your due diligence and find the best provider for your business needs. Look for an established company that has a solid track record for providing customer service. As a cannabis retail storeowner, you will need to invest wisely in your POS system along with other complementary hardware and software. Ensure your purchase aligns with your company vision, both now and into the future. A good provider will work with you to understand your business requirements, and they will be willing to demonstrate how their system is suited for your needs prior to purchase. Ongoing support is often offered and a collaborative long-term relationship can be built as your business grows in this exciting new industry.
Implementing key technologies into your store is critical. As the market evolves, it’s reasonable to assume that both the provincial regulations along with consumer shopping behaviours will change over time. When making decisions about which technology you will adopt, be sure it is something that can adapt to these aspects of your business. Ultimately, technology should enhance your store and give your team the ability to focus on your customers’ needs.