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Cannabis Retail

Cannabis Retail Security System: Why You Need One & What to Look For

Social distancing measures have created a situation that is punishing for retail businesses that haven’t modernized fulfillment. For cannabis retailers still in their startup phase, it is doubly so. This new reality heightens your risks of theft, fraud, and slips that are  susceptible to  regulatory penalties.

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Solink Cannabis Retail Security

Social distancing measures have created a situation that is punishing for retail businesses that haven’t modernized fulfillment. For cannabis retailers still in their startup phase, it is doubly so. This new reality heightens your risks of theft, fraud, and slips that are  susceptible to  regulatory penalties.

Targeted High-Value, High-Risk Product

You have a high-value, highly regulated product that’s in-demand in a still-thriving black market. While you may operate with thin margins, there is a common misconception that a cannabis location will have a lot of cash onsite. Fewer staff onsite during the pandemic, coupled with curbside pickup creates a less secure situation than before – this may encourage robbery attempts and ID fraud.

A Surveillance System is Required by Law

Constant and uninterrupted video surveillance of your entire premises is a universal regulatory requirement. Perhaps the most clear-cut example comes from the Province of Ontario, which specifies “a secure, high-resolution surveillance system must be in place at all times.”

Cameras and lighting must be positioned to clearly capture 24-hour coverage of the interior and immediately outside the premises, including all entrances and exits, pickup areas for online orders, point of sale (POS), receiving, storage, and sales floor areas. Many dispensaries now have to reposition existing cameras or install new ones to ensure every transaction in their curbside pickup area is captured.

Easy Fraud Detection and Auditing

Cameras and lighting are just hardware. It’s the video and data management system—like the solution from Cova partner Solink—that is paramount. It’s the sophisticated tool used to collect, store, analyze, and draw reports from your footage. This dispensary security software platform serves to protect your business, staff, and your customers.

Whether you’re opening a new store or  reviewing the performance of your existing surveillance system to adapt to the new normal, it’s important to consider the following features and capabilities:

6 Considerations When Evaluating Dispensary Security Software

Extensibility: Regulators typically require that your hi-def video surveillance footage be stored on site for a minimum period, ranging by jurisdiction from 30 days to a full year. This can put big demands on physical server storage and incur high costs to expand that storage.

Look for a system that allows you to extend storage capacity as you need it, with the expectation that regulatory requirements may change. Beyond that, a modern video and data management platform can provide you with additional means to manage storage in several ways. For example, automatically store only footage which has tracked motion in high def. Or, extend storage to the cloud for any archived material that regulation no longer requires be stored on-site.

Solink Security Cova POS IntegrationInteroperability: Cameras should be ONVIF Conformant. This enables integration—via that modern video and data management system—with other business systems, like Cova’s point-of-sale platform. This combination of data and video, along with AI, allows you to detect and quickly investigate suspect transactions by correlating the time and date stamp with the corresponding video clip. For example, if the POS system never processed a transaction while a customer interacted with an employee, or if there is a transaction record from a point in time where the video shows no customer present.

Monitoring and Maintenance: Even when working with third-party hardware, a video data management system it can can serve as a proactive performance monitoring tool for any camera or server hooked up to your network. Solink, for example, employs AI algorithms that constantly check the health of every device on the network and can warn of issues such as a storage drive that is about to fail.

Redundancy: Speaking of device failure, it’s best practice that on-premise storage consist of two drives that duplicate to each other. In addition, these drives should have the means to back up to the cloud. Your video footage and related data is a valuable business asset – protect it with as many options as you can.

Flexibility and Accessibility: A modern video and data management system gives you the means to filter through hours, days, or even weeks of video footage in a matter of seconds. It has algorithms that can be used to quickly search reams of footage by motion alert, time and date stamp, transaction receipt, bill of lading, and other datasets with which you manage your business.

This enables you to address a situation, respond to a regulator, or deliver critical evidence to law enforcement, as quickly as possible, while having to review as little video as possible.

That capability should extend to any connected device—including that smartphone in your back pocket. A modern management system has the cloud connectivity to provide you with remote access in real-time from anywhere in the world, to receive alerts, review video, and quickly email a video clip to anyone. 

Solink makes all of this possible

Regardless of what camera network you already have deployed, or plan to deploy, so long as it is ONVIF Conformant, this kind of functionality can be added to your retail location quickly and for a modest monthly cost through Solink.

Cova Software has partnered with Solink because it has proven to be a truly best-in-class security and data integration system. You can trust that each and every transaction that your staff conduct, at the counter or on the curb, will be perfectly paired with video. This integrated video and data archive is secure, accessible, and searchable from anywhere at any time with any connected device.

Learn more about how Cova Software’s extensive partner network can help your dispensary adapt, thrive, and protect itself from ID fraud and other risks through the pandemic and beyond.

 

 

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Cannabis Retail

5 Ways to Enhance Cannabis Dispensary Customer Experience in 2021

The Covid19 pandemic has accelerated the digital revolution and is compelling retailers to adapt swiftly to these changing times. But the cannabis industry is relatively new to the retail game, which gives you more room for innovation and opportunities to create a fundamentally radical customer experience by differentiating your business from traditional retail stores and pivoting strategically as consumer behavior shifts. Also, as the cannabis retail space matures, creating an incredible in-store experience is not enough anymore. And even though the possibility of returning to a so-called ‘normal’ is tantalizing for everyone, the ‘digital diaspora’ is here to stay, and you must utilize all available tools to transform the retail customer experience at your cannabis dispensary.

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Smart retail

The Covid19 pandemic has accelerated the digital revolution and is compelling retailers to adapt swiftly to these changing times. But the cannabis industry is relatively new to the retail game, which gives you more room for innovation and opportunities to create a fundamentally radical customer experience by differentiating your business from traditional retail stores and pivoting strategically as consumer behavior shifts. Also, as the cannabis retail space matures, creating an incredible in-store experience is not enough anymore. And even though the possibility of returning to a so-called ‘normal’ is tantalizing for everyone, the ‘digital diaspora’ is here to stay, and you must utilize all available tools to transform the retail customer experience at your cannabis dispensary.

So you may have the perfect location for your marijuana dispensary, and you have even designed it aesthetically, keeping your target buyer personas in mind. But still, your dispensary is not attracting many customers because most of them are probably sitting indoors, expecting you to offer a more convenient, safer, and contactless buying experience. Hence, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and devise a more robust strategy for delighting your customers in this digital age. The following five ways will help you design a superior cannabis dispensary customer experience in 2021.

1. Convenient Buying Options

Voluntarily or because of pandemic-related restrictions, people are working from home and spending more time indoors. Cannabis retail stores that successfully pivoted to a business model incorporating an eCommerce platform, curbside pickup and delivery options in 2020 have offered a better customer experience during the ongoing pandemic. Undoubtedly, such convenient buying options have also increased customer loyalty and brand recognition, and most cannabis consumers will continue to purchase products from dispensaries that are satisfying their needs now, even in a post-pandemic world. There was a time when online purchases and delivery only added supplemental revenue to retail operations. But as times change, these services are becoming the primary sources of revenue for retail stores. In today’s business environment, you must meet the demands of customers and offer a more convenient buying experience, as you figure out ways to grow your cannabis retail business during the ongoing pandemic.

2. A Safe In-Store Shopping Experience

Social distancing is indeed the new norm as we navigate the complexities of Covid19. Gone are the days when you could organize launch parties or be excited about a crowded store on big occasions like 420. These days you must ensure that every customer entering your store is wearing a mask, is sanitizing their hands at the entrance, and even complying with temperature screening if required. You can provide a safer shopping experience at your dispensary with the help of various technological tools integrated with your cannabis POS:

  • Queue Management – An efficient queue management solution allows customers to check into a virtual queue instead of waiting in a physical line, facilitating a secure, convenient, and even more personalized customer experience.

  • Self-Service Kiosks– With self-service kiosks and touchscreen menus, customers can easily browse products, obtain information, and even order with the help of contactless payment options, without needing to interact with an employee if they prefer so. Such kiosks can even offer personalized product recommendations after a client has filled up a quick questionnaire.

  • Dedicated consultation booths– As you free up interior space meant for queuing, you can transform some area into dedicated consultation booths. Here, budtenders can advise customers as per their needs in a pandemic-conscious future, and consultation appointments may be booked in advance on your website.

3. Replicate in-store experience online

There’s an adage that you have to be where your customers are. And these days, most of your customers are spending time in the digital sphere, so you must be able to replicate your in-store experience on online channels as well. You want your clients to be able to connect with your business via all your digital communication channels and pick up the conversation seamlessly from where they left off. You must make the customer buyer journey more interactive by engaging them at every touchpoint, whether it is a social media comment or email newsletter. For this, it is essential to level up your online presence and provide an omnichannel customer experience.

  • Social Media- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the likes may be the first touchpoint for many of your customers. In 2021, having a social media strategy is extremely crucial to connect with your target market.

  • Robust Informational Website– Once cannabis consumers get directed from social media to your website, they expect comprehensive information to be readily available. Detailed online menus, product information, a dedicated FAQs section, and customer reviews are few things that you must have on your website to educate consumers and address their queries. Also, offer signing up for your loyalty programs online and digital promotions to provide a more customized online retail experience.

  • Virtual Budtender Consultation– Many cannabis dispensaries have recently pivoted to offering free online consultations to newbies who want to learn more about the effects of cannabis consumption before dabbling into it. Offering such a service will help you attract new clients to your dispensary and enhance the customer experience.

4. Expand your product portfolio

As the legal cannabis retail industry goes mainstream and we overcome the stigmas associated with it, many consumers who are averse to traditional methods of consumption like smoking are looking for alternative and healthier ways to try marijuana. Edibles outperformed the cannabis industry growth in 2020, and this market will only grow further in the future. This is evidence that you must constantly adapt to consumer preferences and offer a variety of products, including cannabis edibles and concentrates, at your cannabis dispensary to stay relevant in this ever-evolving market and elevate the customer experience. As wearing masks may become a regularity in our lives in a pandemic-conscious world, you can also promote safe practices by selling branded masks and other paraphernalia, which will help in enhancing customer loyalty and brand recognition.

5. Build your cannabis ecosystem

As you already know, the marijuana industry is highly regulated, and cannabis laws keep changing on the fly. To thrive in this dynamic industry, you not only need a technology provider that grows with you but also continue to partner with companies in the cannabis ecosystem that are regularly innovating and adapting quickly to changing consumer behavior. To provide a high-grade online buying experience to customers, you must be able to integrate your menus and inventory with the best online platforms like dutchie, weedmaps, and leafly, and also be able to extract insights from your analytics and reporting to build your future client experience strategy. Cova Software has an ever-expanding extensive network of partners within the cannabis ecosystem, whose services can be seamlessly integrated with your dispensary POS system so that you can continue to provide an elevated cannabis retail customer experience. To learn what more Cova can do for you, book a demo now.BOOK A DEMO

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Cannabis Industry

Why Seed-to-Sale Might Not Be the Best Fit for Your Cannabis Dispensary

Cannabis dispensary owners often have a dilemma whether they are better off with a retail point of sale (POS) or seed-to-sale software system when it comes to cannabis retail business activities. With the term seed-to-sale appearing quite frequently in official regulatory language, one could easily conclude that seed-to-sale software is the only option to comply with state or provincial reporting requirements. But in reality, cannabis retailers are better served by a cannabis POS specifically created for retail rather than investing in a full-blown seed-to-sale system, which is primarily-designed for cultivation activities.

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Cannabis dispensary owners often have a dilemma whether they are better off with a retail point of sale (POS) or seed-to-sale software system when it comes to cannabis retail business activities. With the term seed-to-sale appearing quite frequently in official regulatory language, one could easily conclude that seed-to-sale software is the only option to comply with state or provincial reporting requirements. But in reality, cannabis retailers are better served by a cannabis POS specifically created for retail rather than investing in a full-blown seed-to-sale system, which is primarily-designed for cultivation activities.

In the early days of legalization, when most cannabis organizations were vertically-integrated and operated only from one location, seed-to-sale systems worked well in the primitive ecosystem of the cannabis industry. However, the industry has evolved rapidly since then, especially with the recent accelerated boom in cannabis retail due to it being considered essential during the pandemic. And the truth is that you are certainly better off with a specialized cannabis-specific POS than an all-in-one solution for your retail store in the modern cannabis landscape, one with an expanding list of retail-only businesses and multi-state, multi-location operations that must constantly adapt to the changing needs of an ever-growing clientele.

Why Cannabis Retailers Prefer POS Over Seed to Sale

A seed-to-sale system may meet all agricultural, processing, packaging, and retail needs in one convenient solution, and can still be a viable option for small-scale, vertically-integrated operations that may not have the budget for more than one software subscription. But as government traceability systems have become more streamlined for retail-only licensees, the need for specialized software has grown, and a cannabis-specific point of sale provides much greater value.

Using seed-to-sale software for cannabis retail operations means sacrificing customer experience and critical features such as sales reports and analytics that help you streamline processes and increase revenues. Not only will a cannabis-specific dispensary POS worth its salt help keep your customers happy and return for more, but for vertically-integrated businesses at the enterprise level, it will also integrate seamlessly with your cultivation and processing software.

Of course, if your business is strictly retail, a seed-to-sale system is not only redundant but also not cost-effective. Despite what you may have read or heard, the truth is that seed-to-sale software is NOT necessary to keep you in compliance with traceability and reporting requirements. As long as your cannabis retail POS can manage your cannabis inventory properly and is fully integrated with the government tracking and traceability system for reporting purposes, you don’t need to worry about any compliance issues.

Ultimately, regardless of whether you are a vertically-integrated cannabis business with one or more retail locations or a single site stand-alone retailer, the best dispensary POS system will provide everything you need to deliver a better customer experience, streamline inventory management, and keep your operations in line with regulations, without the added expense of unrequired functionalities.

Shortcomings of Seed to Sale Software for Cannabis Retailers

1. Paying for unnecessary features instead of the ones needed

As a cannabis retailer, subscribing to a seed-to-sale system means unnecessarily paying for features and functions that you simply will never need or use. What is worse is that the system will also lack key features to help you maximize your retail operations. A seed-to-sale software simply cannot match the depth of functionality and level of sophistication of a retail-specific solution. Most cultivation systems lack a full suite of retail tools and features, including:

  • ID scanners for validation of customer age and photo.
  • Ecommerce and delivery functionalities
  • Digital menus and kiosks for enhanced customer experience and education.
  • Employee scheduling and health screening tools
  • Seamless integration with government traceability systems like Metrc to ensure automated compliance.
  • Integration with popular third-party sites like Weedmaps and Leafly and a host of other cannabis technology platforms.

2. Expert-level support & software updates not readily available

If you are a vertically-integrated cannabis company, you will indeed need cultivation and processing software along with your retail platform for your business to flourish. But here again, seed-to-sale exclusive systems fall short in providing expert retail-focused development and support, resulting in delayed resolutions, avoidable system downtime, and lost revenue. Seldom you will find any seed-to-sale support personnel adept at both cultivation and retail software and the nuances involved in operating in each of these sectors. Ensure that you choose a dedicated system for your retail or cultivation business that specializes in the cannabis sector you operate in and is not an all-in-one solution so that you can benefit from their expertise, fast innovation and regular product updates while always staying compliant with the law.

3. The more you scale, the less stable the platform becomes

The truth is that old-school seed-to-sale systems are not reliable and not built for enterprise retail operations. There have been numerous documented system failures and crashes with non-retail software that has cost retailers a significant amount of lost sales. Moreover, such platforms tend to become unstable as your business grows as they are primarily designed for cultivation activities and cannot sustain an enterprise cannabis retail business. A cannabis retail POS puts advanced reporting capabilities in your hands, enabling you to monitor your business operations with metrics that matter to you. An enterprise-proven solution with reliable high-volume performance helps you streamline day-to-day activities and centralize data while delivering a consistent customer retail experience.

See Cova in Action with a Free Demo

Cova’s built-in compliance features include traceability system integrations that provide automated data reporting to state and province tracking systems. Eliminating manual reporting saves time and money while significantly reducing the risk of human error which could potentially lead to compliance infractions. Cova also keeps retailers compliant with automated product equivalency conversions and enforced purchase limits — so your budtenders inadvertently do not sell more than the legal allowance. Additionally, Cova simplifies cannabis inventory management and offers unrivaled dispensary reporting features so you can streamline your operations, maximize efficiencies, and gain deeper insights into your business. If you are ready to see how Cova can take your cannabis retail operations to new heights, book a free demo with us now.

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Cannabis Retail

How Queue Management can be a Game-Changer for Cannabis Retail Stores

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Beat the line with Queue Management

The legal cannabis industry has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years, and as more states in North America join the revolution, cannabis retailers must keep enhancing customer experience. One great tool to do that is a queue management system that helps cut down on wait times, provides a more comfortable retail experience and builds customer loyalty. When your store is busy, especially on occasions like 420, a mobile queue management solution allows customers to check into a virtual queue through a text message instead of waiting in a physical line to purchase products. As retail shopping behavior changes and social distancing becomes the norm, a virtual line up will also keep your customers safe while they wait for their turn in the car or grab a coffee in the meantime.

What is Queue Management?

Queue management is the process of providing convenient and seamless service to customers at your cannabis dispensary while staying organized and efficient. With a queue management system, customers won’t have to wait in a physical line and can place their names in a virtual queue by texting to your store’s dedicated number or scanning a QR code with their smartphones. They’d be informed of their place in the queue and notified when a budtender is available to help them in the store.

Your employees will manage the virtual queue and notify the customer when it’s their turn to enter the store. This will give your budtenders ample designated time to serve and delight each customer, without the pressure of a growing lineup, thus ensuring an unforgettable cannabis retail experience

Why is Queue Management required in Cannabis Retail?

A convenient location is just one aspect of attracting customers to your cannabis retail store, but convincing them that they are getting good value just not for their money but also time is a whole different ball game altogether. In today’s retail reality, customer service begins even before they step inside your store and this is where a properly implemented queue management system enhances customer loyalty by recognizing that their time is valuable. 

Poorly-managed queues are not just a deterrent for customers but create more work for your staff as well, thus increasing the likelihood of human errors. A customer typically expects to enter the store, browse a bit, pick up their cannabis products, pay at the counter and exit. But if they have to wait too long, they may leave before purchasing anything, which means lost revenue for your store, and possibly bad reviews and negative word of mouth marketing.

A good queue management system ensures that customer wait times are reasonable and that they always receive excellent service. A customer will always return to a marijuana dispensary that offers a positive and seamless experience and will recommend it to friends and family.

How can Queue Management Benefit Cannabis Retailers?

A queue management system does not just demonstrate your store’s commitment to customer experience but also facilitates personalized service, gives insights on consumer behavior and lets you better design the layout of your marijuana dispensary. The following points illustrate how you can benefit from a Queue Management system:

  • Reduce wait times and walkaways

People don’t like to wait, and they’d rather be investing their precious time in doing anything else than waiting outside your cannabis store with no idea about when their turn would come up. And if they have to wait for an inordinate time, then the queues at your dispensary will gradually start shrinking as your customers shop at another store.

With a virtual queuing solution like text your turn, you can allow customers to wait comfortably in the warmth of their cars on a cold winter day or visit a coffee shop nearby instead of standing in a long line. While it significantly decreases the possibility of sales lost due to walkaways, it also demonstrates to the customer that their time is valued. It even allows you to efficiently manage crowds during busy holiday periods and on big days like 420. Not only will this increase revenue for your cannabis retail store, but also enhance customer experience and loyalty.

  • Personalize customer experience

For your legal cannabis retail store, personalization is crucial as you’d get a lot of different customers with diverse knowledge of marijuana, who’d need varying levels of assistance in choosing the right product for them. You must be able to identify and segment all different buyer personas to figure out how much time each individual may need for a better shopping experience. This will allow you to manage your virtual queue even more efficiently.

A Cannabis Retail Queue Management System also provides customer data that offers insights on how you can improve your dispensary experience. It also makes servicing clients easier and customized with the ability to address them by name. Despite legalization, people may still be unwilling to provide their real information and if they wish to, customers may choose to use a pseudonym instead of their actual name, thus allowing them to stay anonymous.

  • Keep customers safe from Covid-19

We can’t emphasize enough that Covid-19 has drastically changed the retail shopping experience. Managing customer flow and limiting the number inside at any particular time is more vital than ever to keep your clients safe while adhering to government-imposed guidelines. A queue management system will help you enforce and stay compliant with capacity regulations while knowing exactly how many people are in your dispensary and whether it is safe to let more customers in. Along with offering curbside pickup and delivery service, mobile queue management will also help you grow your cannabis business during the pandemic.

In today’s world of retail, your staff doesn’t have too much time to stop and contemplate, and customers seek quick service as well. So instead of asking your employees to manually manage the line outside your cannabis store, let technology facilitate it for you and let your budtenders focus on providing an incredibly personalized experience to your customers. To learn more about this new digital solution, book a demo with us now.

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