More companies have entered the marijuana point-of-sale market in 2021 than in previous years, setting up the possibility of downward price pressures in the POS sector and consolidation among businesses that provide the software to retailers.
While the new entries face a highly concentrated market, POS is becoming an important part of the so-called “software stack” that cannabis retailers use to handle a range of services, such as e-commerce and delivery.
That demand for bundled software services is driving cannabis tech companies such as Dutchie and Akerna to snap up point-of-sale providers.
The cannabis POS sector grew to 79 vendors in 2021, up 16% from the previous year and 75% from 2018 when Cannabiz Media, a Connecticut-based cannabis license database and marketing platform, started tracking the category.
This year, Cannabiz Media surveyed roughly 3,100 of the nearly 8,900 active dispensaries, retailers and delivery license holders the company tracks, or around 35% of the retail market.
Point-of-sale vendorsList of POS vendors tracked by Cannabiz Media in 2021. New vendors are noted. Source: Cannabiz Media.
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Cannabiz Media found that the cannabis POS market continues to be highly concentrated. The top five companies serve 61% of retailers, despite the record number of POS vendors now in the market.
“Things are going to get messy,” said Ed Keating, chief data officer and co-founder at Cannabiz Media.
Keating doubts the market can support 79 POS vendors and anticipates more mergers and acquisitions as well as additional downward price pressures in the coming years.
He also believes there will be additional “bundling” as companies try to control more of the software retailers are using, including POS, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), e-commerce and delivery.
“They may get smarter with their product offering to figure out, ‘How can I own a greater share of your day and get more of your share of wallet?’” Keating said.
Dutchie, an Oregon-based cannabis technology platform, is doing just that.
The self-described “all-in-one” technology platform company acquired two leading cannabis POS companies, Greenbits and LeafLogix, in March for an undisclosed price.
Those two companies together account for 25% of the cannabis POS market, according to the Cannabiz Media survey.
Dutchie sees the purchases as providing value to its customers.
“By bringing on two top teams and technologies, we expanded the suite of solutions we offer dispensary partners to help streamline their operations and solve important pain points,” Dutchie CEO and co-founder Ross Lipson told MJBizDaily via email.
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Lipson said the additions will allow retailers to lean on POS to drive more revenue, retain customers and meet evolving consumer demand for modern purchasing options.
“Tech is the backbone of many other industries, and we see it playing the same role for the cannabis industry.”
Lipson said it’s this approach that led Dutchie to expand its offerings beyond e-commerce into a one-stop shop for cannabis retailers that includes POS, payment solutions and more.
“We’re always listening to our dispensary partners and striving to meet their evolving needs so we can help their businesses grow because they are at the center of the industry,” he said.
Lipson believes modern payment solutions for the industry are inevitable and that businesses must have a tech backbone when regulators inevitably catch up with what has primarily been a cash-based business.
Turnkey point-of-sale solutions – with user-friendly design and detailed sales analytics – can be an extremely useful tool to help retailers stay at the forefront of the evolution of the cannabis space, he said.
“With the right tech,” Lipson noted, “cannabis retailers can take advantage of complete seed-to-sale integration to manage their operations, eliminate the risk of dealing in cash, and maximize efficiency and profits.”
And Dutchie isn’t alone in buying POS technology providers.
Denver-based cannabis tech company Akerna acquired Viridian Sciences in April for an undisclosed price and 365 Cannabis in September for $17 million in cash and stock. Both companies offer POS among other software services.
Akerna’s holdings include MJ Freeway, a provider of POS and other services that is used by 7% of retailers surveyed by Cannabiz Media.
Andrew Long can be reached at email@example.com.