What Goes into Award-Winning Dispensary Tech (and What You Get Out of It)

Cova measures its success by the success of the retailers that employ its software solutions.


Long before the doors of a dispensary open, operators must find an optimal location and manage legal compliance, staff training, store operations, and more. Cova, which provides retail software solutions, can ease the journey by helping guide operators at key steps along the way. This hands-on approach, as much as the technology itself, is what has earned Cova a reputation as a reliable partner, recognition for excellence in innovation, and awards for best point-of-sale system.

“Our brand promise is to help retailers reach their full potential and have sustainable growth,” said Faai Steuer, vice president of marketing for the company. “We not only help them use our system comprehensively but also educate them with best practices to run the best store possible and stay compliant.”


For Cova, a plan for success begins during a dispensary’s early planning stages. The company assigns each retail partner a launch coordinator to provide insight and assistance with training staff, pre-opening setup, and other critical aspects of the shop’s launch, particularly when it comes to implementing the right technology and best practices for long-term success.

“The launch coordinator works closely with the dispensary and staff for six weeks after launch to provide further assistance and help as the store is up and operational,” Chief Executive Officer Gary Cohen said. “This is the depth of our commitment to their success. It’s not only about using the Cova software; it’s also about helping ensure their proficiency in operating the store is at a high level.”


Seminars for success

The industry is still relatively new, and some entrepreneurs and teams operating in cannabis retail have little to no previous experience in either space. “We do not assume dispensary operators have cannabis or retail experience,” Cohen said. “Cova sets a goal and delivers a huge level of education to each and every one of our clients.”

It’s not uncommon for service providers to claim their customers’ success is also their own, but Cova demonstrates a commitment to the concept. The company has conducted more than twenty-five live seminars across the United States in an effort to demystify the intricacies of opening a dispensary. The seminars are particularly attentive to the unique needs of operators in new and emerging markets.

The seminars provide “an enormous amount of educational content about the cannabis industry, applying for a license, real estate, staffing, compliance, taxation, and store layout,” Cohen said. “In addition, a significant portion of the day is spent on creating your brand.”


Award-winning mobile POS

Based on a retail operator’s objectives, goals, store location, and the customer experience the store wants to provide, a Cova team deploys cornerstone technology that will work behind the scenes to support the retailer’s vision, provide a unique shopping experience, and equip budtenders with the tools to help them deliver that vision and brand promise.

While there is no doubt crafting a meaningful brand is critical, a shop can render the effort meaningless if it provides a poor retail experience. Cova’s software is easy to learn (some pick it up within minutes, Steuer said), allowing budtenders to become proficient quickly so they can enhance their store’s brand by focusing on creating lasting customer relationships.

Cova also allows budtenders to escape the confines of the sales counter and provide a more intimate experience for patients and adult-use customers. Because Cova’s point-of-sale (POS) system incorporates an innovative mobile component, budtenders can take the POS with them while they help customers make purchasing decisions during a walk around the shop floor.

“One of the unique features of Cova POS is our mobile tablet POS,” Steuer said. “The mobility of our tablet allows retailers to serve customers however they want to shop. We enable retailers to create a unique shopping experience so they can build brand loyalty, compete, and grow their customer base.”

Always reliable, always evolving

Cova also is investing heavily in another way to improve the customer experience: cashless payment options. “We’ve supported the full range of card-based payments in Canada since their federal legalization,” Cohen said. “For the United States, however, we’ve spent years evaluating dozens of cashless payment solutions for both compliance and fit. We are excited to release Cova Pay in all our U.S. markets.”

But what good are impressive features if the system crashes? The industry has been bitten by multiple high-profile POS system outages with results ranging from minor inconvenience to disastrous. Outages may do much more than irritate customers and staff; they can jeopardize compliance. Cova has hardened its systems to prevent downtime.

“We’ve never had a major outage or disruption of service, even on 4/20,” Cohen said. “The IT infrastructure Cova runs on is the same secure, scaled, and redundant system that services more than 15,000 major cellular carrier stores.”

Although the company has taken extraordinary precautions to avoid a significant outage, technicians are ready to respond immediately should any system experience a hiccup.

“Cova has set itself on a compliance-first path since its inception,” Cohen said. “We design and build the software around compliance and regulatory considerations before anything else. With this in mind, we designed the Offline Mode feature to work as it does. If there is an outage and the dispensary continues to sell in this mode, all compliance reporting automatically syncs with the state system once the power or internet is restored.”

Although expansion into other verticals is common at the moment, Cohen said Cova intends to remain focused on its core market for the foreseeable future. “We focus on providing the best cannabis retail software,” he said. “While many clients are vertically integrated in their operations, they trust Cova to power their retail side and leverage our sophisticated open-API platform to integrate best-in-class partner solutions—cultivation, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, human resources—to run a tech ecosystem that can keep up and assure success as their business grows.”