Opening a cannabis store? Find success with a strong foundation.

Getting a cannabis store up and running involves more than finding product and hiring staff. Your business will also need a strong foundation, including banking, software and solutions, and marketing. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Banking

Despite the legalization of cannabis in Canada, many cannabis businesses still have trouble accessing banking services. Some banks may impose high non-refundable application fees. Others only work with larger cannabis businesses that are publicly traded.

Fortunately, cannabis businesses in Canada have another option: credit unions. Because credit unions don’t offer banking services outside of Canada, they have fewer worries about compliance with regulations in countries where cannabis is not yet legal. But while credit unions are often willing to work with cannabis businesses, you should be aware that fees for cannabis businesses may be higher than for businesses in other industries.

Software and Solutions

Top of the list for any cannabis business is a POS software solution, and having the right systems in place at the start can help your business grow and scale. A POS software system that lets you manage inventory across multiple locations and track online sales in real time is essential, even if you’re starting with just one store. Your POS software can also gather information about sales trends, integrate seamlessly with leading accounting and payroll services, perform seed-to-sale tracking and submit required compliance reports to provincial, territorial or federal agencies.

Businesses today also need an online presence, and cannabis stores are no exception. Look for an ecommerce solution that can track inventory in real time, allows for detailed product descriptions and images, and has excellent search and sort options. Your ecommerce solution should also support mobile platforms and smartphones.

In addition to POS and ecommerce software, you’ll want to consider software solutions that can help get your products into your customers’ hands. Delivery solutions are ideal for cannabis stores with an online presence, and integrate with store inventory to ensure that every order can be filled quickly and accurately. You can also consider a click and collect solution that lets your customers pick up their online orders in person.

What are some other business essentials? You’ll have staff working in your store, so you’ll need a payroll solution. Payroll is more than just wages: you’ll also need to pay taxes, and with a payroll solution that offers employee benefits, you’ll be able to support your employees as your business grows. Accounting software is critical for managing cash flow, paying bills and tracking invoices. And security software will help keep your store, your staff and your products safe and protected (and it may be required as part of your business insurance).

Marketing

Great customer relationships are a key part of success in business, and a customer relationship management (CRM) solution will help you build those relationships. The right CRM solution makes it easy for you to communicate with your customers, and with increased loyalty, you’ll see your sales soar.

To communicate with customers in the store, consider digital menus. Digital menus can automatically update information about product pricing and availability (essential if you also sell online). They can also display information about different strains, including detailed lab results, high quality images and effective product descriptions. Digital menus also help build your brand identity and attract interest, and the ability to search by product category makes it easy for customers to find exactly what they’re looking for.

For an interactive and personalized customer experience, kiosks are a great option. Kiosks help your business succeed by reducing operations and staffing costs, and they also lead to increased enrolment in loyalty programs. Many kiosks also offer options to manage customer check-ins and lineups, an important tool for any business that expects to grow. And because kiosks can collect customer data, they also play a key role in driving customer engagement and building loyalty programs.

Taking the time to select the right partners, software and systems when you start your cannabis business is the best way to ensure success. Our payments experts have experience working with the leading cannabis technology providers in this space. Contact us today and we can help you find the right solutions for your business. Call us at 1-800-957-0534 or email us at marketing@merrco.com.

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