Now that the recreational cannabis industry is booming, it’s experiencing some growing pains. Many cannabis dispensaries are increasingly finding themselves in over their heads when it comes to the volume of sales they’re doing, maintaining inventory, and addressing the needs of their customers.
We’ve already reviewed a few other industry-leaders in the software space including:
- Cannabis-specific data intelligence and market research software
- LeafLinks wholesale marketplace and CRM software
There is no denying canna-tech is the hottest sub-niche within this booming industry where new applications and dazzling rounds of venture capital reach new heights each year.
In this Cova Software review, we’ll go over how this business management system can help dispensaries manage their operations in the most efficient way possible – all while keeping everything organized.
What is Cova: A Brief History
Cova provides Point of Sale (POS) and inventory management solutions specifically for businesses in the cannabis industry. It was launched in August 2017 as a division of iQmetrix Software Development, which is a wireless software company with over 20,000 locations.
Cova Software has 35 full-time employees divided between offices in both Denver and Vancouver.
Challenges Cannabis Dispensaries Face
Whether they are new businesses that have popped up in the last couple of years or long-time established dispensaries, there are unique challenges to being in the cannabis industry.
Of course, that’s not surprising for an industry that is still in its infancy in many ways. However, given how fast the industry is growing—and projected to continue growing for years to come—dispensaries don’t have a lot of time to find solutions to their problems.
Lack of Industry-Specific Software
One of the biggest problems facing cannabis dispensaries is not having proper POS software. The cannabis industry isn’t just another business. There are strict regulations for selling cannabis-related products.
Perhaps more importantly, those regulations are different depending on the state or province. In other words, one size does not fit all, and POS systems designed for other businesses like retail or restaurants are not going to cut it.
This makes essential business services like payment processing and credit card processing a technical and legal minefield for cannabis business owners, regardless of what their local state laws are.
Blackballing By Near-Essential Services
Most people don’t realize that dispensaries can’t always align themselves with large banking institutions because selling cannabis is still federally illegal in the United States. The same problem is true for POS companies, credit card processors, and so on.
Analog Order-Tracking and Record-Keeping
Another common problem within the cannabis industry is having to manually keep track of inventory. This is a time-consuming process that can take up several hours every day for the owners and managers of dispensaries that don’t have proper software that tracks everything.
Not only does this waste large amounts of time, but it also hinders business growth. Managers and owners spend all of their time tracking inventory rather than being able to analyze their inventory. They’re unable to effectively track customers and their purchases to better understand their strengths and weaknesses as a business.
Considering the high demand from consumers in states and provinces where recreational cannabis is legal, finding customers isn’t necessarily a problem for dispensaries.
However, dealing with a high volume of sales—and customers that have high expectations for the products they buy—is a challenge. Without a basic inventory system, dispensaries struggle to stay organized or identify best business practices.
This is particularly true for first-time business owners who are new to retail. But even established dispensaries without modern software in place can struggle to maximize their efficiency and meet consumer demands.
How Cova Solves Common Dispensary Challenges
With Cova Software, many new and established cannabis dispensaries can solve basic problems that might otherwise be holding them back.
The company offers both a POS system and Express Checkout, which are beneficial for both businesses and customers. Rather than trying to solve every possible problem within the supply chain, Cova makes retail its top priority.
Further, Cova Software will also give dispensaries suggestions on other types of software that can easily integrate with Cova to help with business growth and distribution.
An Industry-Specific Retail POS System
On the retail front, Cova has a system that allows cannabis dispensaries to process orders, track inventory, and even re-order products based on inventory levels. Owners are given full control over the system and everyone who interacts with it.
They also receive analytics to help them understand sales that can be broken down by the day, the hour, and even by the customer.
Limitless Growth Potential
Cova Software also enables dispensaries to manage both sales and inventory across multiple locations. In other words, all of the inventory and product information for multiple stores will all be tracked within the same system.
For dispensaries with multiple branches, this can be a game-changer, as it becomes easier to manage and consolidate each location.
So, whether a business consists of one store or 20, Cova Software is able to provide any piece of data a cannabis business needs, including metrics that help find solutions to problems using all available data.
The Extra Features You Want
Cova is capable of working offline as well as with tablet-based sales tools. This enables workers at dispensaries to be more interactive with customers and educate them about what they need to know about each product.
More importantly, this helps to complete sales quicker, which greatly increases customer turnover.
Growth of Cannabis Software
There is little doubt that software specifically designed for cannabis dispensaries is vital for the continued growth of the industry. In 2019, the cannabis industry was worth close to $14 billion in North America alone. That number is projected to increase even more in the coming years.
Cannabis products aren’t just plants and snacks anymore, especially now that nearly a dozen American states and all of Canada have made recreational cannabis legal. Cannabis is included in everything these days, from drinks and capsules to beauty and skincare products.
There are also more and more entrepreneurs rushing into the cannabis industry in hopes of getting a piece of what is becoming a massive pie. So much so, this era is commonly dubbed “The Green Rush.”
For dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses to keep up with the projected growth of the industry, they need to have access to the right kinds of software. Many have found out the hard way that software designed for clothing stores, restaurants, and other industries are inadequate for dispensaries.
Eventually, you begin to realize that, in order to succeed, you need a specific type of software that caters to such a unique industry.
Fortunately, the cannabis software market is growing alongside the cannabis market itself. More are being created to help keep up with the rush of new dispensaries and cannabis-related businesses that are starting up in places where recreational cannabis is legal. In fact, software is slowly becoming the backbone for the cannabis industry.
Just like the product, quality matters when it comes to cannabis-related software too. Despite the vast potential of cannabis startups, investors are often wary of getting involved because of the strict regulations – and because the industry itself is still in its infancy.
The good news is that software startups can partner with new dispensaries to prove long-term viability. With hard data to show the difference that better efficiency and organization can make, servicing a wide swathe of the market becomes much easier.
Who doesn’t want to grow their business, avoid costly oversights, and stay in compliance, all at the same time?
As cannabis POS companies facilitate all the benefits that come with better efficiency, utilizing one in dispensaries will become an industry standard, just like in more traditional retail.
If you could have been on the ground floor of a popular restaurant POS system, wouldn’t you jump at the chance? That’s the case with Cova Software and both its major and minor competitors.
New Solutions in a Growing Market
The future of cannabis-specific software is likely to involve either seed-to-sale software or POS-specific software. During the early days of the cannabis industry, seed-to-sale software has been a critical component for dispensaries.
With tight regulation on the cannabis industry, businesses need to be able to give regulatory agencies specific details about the plants they’re selling and every employee who has a hand in cultivating those plants.
Given how quickly regulations can change, seed-to-sale software can be critical to maintaining compliance.
The other option for dispensaries is retail-specific POS software. These systems focus solely on the retail experience rather than every detail of the process that starts with the cultivation of plants. It sacrifices attention to certain parts of the business in favor of getting the most important part (to dispensaries) right.
With a POS software system, the customer experience and inventory experience will be streamlined, while other business tools can be easily integrated to help any cannabis-related business run as smoothly as possible.
Whether a dispensary prefers a retail-based system or seed-to-sale software will be based on its specific needs and goals. However, having one or the other has become a critical part of surviving and thriving in the cannabis industry.
In fact, it’s almost gotten to the point where the market for software solutions is growing nearly as fast as the cannabis industry itself.