5 Things a Dispensary Needs to Run a Successful Business

Camille Demere
An illustration shows three trees of increasing size, above them words say Build your tech stack with Treez and logos depicting data and analytics, loyalty, cashless payments, e-commerce, and point of sale float above the trees

A successful dispensary is an operation that is profitable, or is actively targeting a date for being profitable. It draws in potential customers who live, work, and play in the surrounding area through multiple avenues. A successful dispensary provides excellent and reliable products and services to their ideal clientele who visit, while always working to find more customers just like them.  

We all just want to be successful but where do you start? Recent industry surveys say about 40% of cannabis operators are not profitable, so it’s clear many operators are on the hunt to gain that financial and community footing for their business in 2023. 

Here are the top 5 tools that every dispensary needs in order to run a successful business.


A point of sale system is the backbone of your retail cannabis business. It’s the system where you create and adjust pricing for products on your shelves, and track them as they “sale” out the door. It’s the system that tracks cannabis products as they first enter your store or retail warehouse and on to the moment where a customer purchases them and takes them home to enjoy. A cannabis point of sale system tracks and traces as product is delivered, unloaded, unpacked, and processed by dispensary staff.

A point of sale system is the part of your retail operation that makes it possible for a budtender to first scan a barcode, which then displays as an order for flower, edibles, cartridges or other products. Whether that scanned product shows up on a screen in the back of house for fulfillment or it shows up on a budtender’s display as they check the customer out. The point of sale system also makes the correct inventory item disappear from your available inventory.

Point of sale systems handle discounts, including discounts from BOGO deals (buy one preroll, get one free) and loyalty programs like returning customers, veterans or new customer incentives.  It is the system that lets your waiting room staff scan an ID, and add your customers to a queue. 

The point of sale system is the source of truth (SOT) for your dispensary. That means it holds the truth about your sales, your customers, and your inventory. In a highly regulated industry like medical marijuana (MMJ) and retail adult-use cannabis industry, your system of record must be reliable, accurate, and easily work with compliance operations like METRC, Biotrack, and more. Running afoul of state compliance laws, either by underreporting sales or by having a large percentage of unaccounted-for product, can costs thousands of dollars in fines. Compliance woes can even leave you with your cannabis retail or medical operator licenses revoked. You can’t run a successful dispensary without a reliable cannabis POS system that follows state compliance laws.

The most forward-thinking cannabis retailers use a point of sale system that can scale to their needs, now and through their expansions. A point of sale system should have options and capabilities that allow a retailer to expand. That means a system must be able to handle more than one retail location and be able to comply with multiple states’ laws and regulations.

How will you know you have the right POS?

You’ll see increased transactions, both in terms of new and returning customers. Those transactions will be executed more smoothly, both in terms of customer and budtender experiences. You’ll have better insight into what inventory sells the best in your particular stores. Your waiting room or check-in desk staff will have a smoother time checking people into your dispensary, scanning an ID, and inviting customers onto your sales floor. You’ll see an increase in orders prepared well and on-time.

Your inventory manager and back of house staff will have a full view of every order placed within your dispensary, whether the customer placed that order online, through a third-party like WeedMaps or built their order in your store with the help of cannabis consultants or budtenders. Customers will leave happy, with the products they knew were in stock, from your own dispensary’s website, social media or a marketplace listing. Those customers will return to repurchase their favorite products and try new ones.

Your business will run smoothly, your transactions will increase, and you’ll be able to reconfigure and adjust your retail operations as needed to suit your business, seamlessly.

A line graph screenshot from Google Trends shows the Interest over time of two items - the blue line depicts the search "dispensary near me" and goes from Jan 1, 2022 to Dec 31, 2022, rising and dipping between about 50, with a few intermittent peaks above 75. Red depicts searches of "coffee near me" and follows the same time frame, hovering at around 85, with some dips into 75 and peaks at 100.


Cannabis e-commerce is a digital extension of your retail business. Think about your average person today, interested in basically anything from a coffee to a car. That customer is most likely to research their product online. Dispensaries are highly sought out online.

Check out this graph, which compares searches on Google of “dispensary near me” to “coffee near me”. This graph shows that it is 72% as popular for a customer to search for a store nearby to buy cannabis as to buy one of most popular consumer goods in the United States.

Through the data we analyze within Treez, we see the average dispensary is able to increase their sales-reach by 30% with a well-built and managed eCommerce partner.

People who are searching for a dispensary nearby won’t just find that your retail store is the closest and open. They’ll be able to click through and learn what products are new and exciting at your store. Customers can get a sense of what makes your dispensary different before they even leave their home. In order to run a successful dispensary, you have to meet people where they are. So many of your future loyal customers are just on the other side of a computer (or phone), typing into a search engine.

Successful dispensaries are the ones that show up in the top 5 (ideally top 1 or 2) search results that customers are typing in. Successful dispensaries have e-commerce sites that are shoppable, accurate and easy to navigate. If you’re not already, you should have a digital presence and ecommerce site that improves your digital presence through SEO-focused solutions so customers can easily find you.

Cashless Payment Options

As the cannabis industry continues to mature, so do the expectations of consumers. The most successful dispensaries know that consumers expect cashless payment options. What’s more, successful dispensaries know that offering cashless payments increases their own profitability immediately after turning on cashless payments. Customers using available cashless payments tend to have a larger Average Order Value, 40% in fact.

Today, basically four in ten Americans say they make zero purchases in cash in a typical week. None of their purchases in a typical week are paid for using cash. The average cannabis consumer does not delight in remembering to pack cash for every visit or paying ATM fees.

Cash-only dispensaries are leaving money on the table. When they visit, customers are limited in their purchasing power to what dollars are physically in their wallet. It stands to reason that about 40% of your potential customers might choose to drive the short distance to a dispensary that takes cards.  The most successful dispensaries provide their customers with secure, convenient, integrated cashless payment solutions.

Loyalty and Customer Engagement

Successful dispensaries are the ones that don’t just have tons of new faces flooding into their stores due to hype and branding. Successful dispensaries have customers who return time and again. Their customers build their visit to a specific location into their routine, whether that’s a monthly visit to stock up on a large order or as a part of their weekly or even daily shopping. In reviews of your dispensary, customers might identify themselves as being a “customer for life” or loving the way they feel when they visit. In other words, successful dispensaries have customer loyalty.

How do you build customer loyalty for your dispensary? Create reasons for customers to return. Those could be rewards, or perks like free merch or exclusive after-hours events for the most loyal customers each month. or discounts, like offering customers 10% off their next order when they visit a location again. Offer opportunities for your current customers to bring in new customers and be rewarded for introducing them to your dispensary.

Loyalty programs are designed to encourage repeat business, offering people a reward for store or brand loyalty. The most successful cannabis dispensaries are building customer loyalty every day with well-planned and executed loyalty programs. After implementing a successful loyalty program in your dispensary you should expect to see an increase in returning customers coming back to your shop to take advantage of those perks and exclusive discounts.

Data and Analytics

Successful cannabis dispensaries don’t operate on gut instinct, they back it up with solid data. They invest in quality data reporting so they can make purchasing decisions not just based on 30 day sales cycles, but also through more accurate data metrics like sellable velocity. Successful dispensaries know that the time and money spent on curating an excellent product assortment is wasted without data-backed confidence that the strategy is working. They take the time to understand how many products on their shelves are moving, and how many are languishing, getting old and expiring. 

The best operators work off of data that is baked into their point of sale system, rather than exporting from a program and importing into Excel or a separate reporting app. That’s because they know decisions are only as fresh as their data.

They follow an informed business strategy, and revisit their strategies at least quarterly (every three months). Successful cannabis retailers tie each dollar they’re spending on product, people, and promotion back to their overall business goals. They’re also not afraid to pivot strategies or experiment with new models of reaching their consumer, because they know the data they’re watching closely will tell them if their attempts are working. 

Tying It Together With an Open API Ecosystem

The best operators know the best tools for their business. Missing any of these tools? Treez offers clients access to our extensible open API platform which provides smooth integration into a variety of best-of-breed solutions, including everything on this list, point of sale, e-commerce solutions, cashless payments options, loyalty programs, and data & analytics.

When your dispensary uses software that has an open API, integrations work better. The data is more reliable and often comes through way faster. That’s because developers from other companies are able to access what they need from Treez’ side of your dispensary business and incorporate it into the way their software “speaks” to ours. Developers from other companies like  AlpineIQ, and Happy Cabbage can easily access certain software features in Treez, connecting their workflows to the Treez point-of-sale software for a seamless integration.

At Treez, we don’t pretend to be a one-stop shop. We’re an open platform with open API because it means dispensaries who choose Treez are able to choose the best apps and software solutions that work for them.

Ready to build a tech stack of the best tools for your dispensary? Contact Us.

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