Before implementing reliable inventory management software at his dispensary, Elijah Land, general manager of Pueblo West, Colorado-based Nature’s Gift Shop, spent hours each night building out makeshift inventory logs in Google Sheets. Now, after finding the right software for the business, Land has shaved hours off his work week and improved the store’s overall inventory management processes.
When Land began managing the store roughly a year and a half ago, he didn’t trust the dispensary’s point-of-sale (POS) system to correctly track inventory.
“Every night my staff would have to do a count through Google Sheets,” he tells Cannabis Dispensary. “They’d have to go in and count edibles, concentrates [and] flower, all through different sites, and submit those to my spreadsheet. I’d have to go into Metrc, [the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system], compare that, and then compare it to my point-of-sale system. It was taking me hours at night. I’d have my computer set up at home. I would stay up until about 3 in the morning, just working on inventory and trying to make sure everything was compliant with the state, which was a huge headache for me. It was not a good system.”
The old POS system had only basic capabilities to track the store’s inventory, and Nature’s Gift Shop has since implemented new point-of-sale software from Flowhub that has the capabilities that modern dispensaries need, such as the ability to directly upload sales to Metrc, as well as track customer purchase data, sales trends and more. These new capabilities have cut Land’s work week back down to 40 hours, he says.
“It really did save a lot of time, and it allowed me to focus on other things in the company that we needed to do, [such as] growth [and] community efforts,” he says. “It allows me to get out and be involved with the community face-to-face.”
As the cannabis industry evolves and more software companies launch new POS and inventory management solutions, it is critical for dispensaries to vet potential vendors and find the technology that works best for their business.
“I feel like [the technology is] just modernizing the workflows,” Land says. “It’s reducing operational costs because I don’t have to stay up all night, clocked in, … so it’s saving us money. It’s really helping us build a solid foundation to scale up and expand. Us being a small family business, trying to operate on old point-of-sale systems and a broken system just didn’t work and it made it hard to scale up.”
Here, Land shares the features dispensary operators should look for when considering POS vendors and implementing a new system.
1. Discrepancy reporting
A POS system should allow employees to report discrepancies in inventory, Land says. For example, if the state seed-to-sale tracking system—in Land’s case, Metrc—indicates that the store should have 12 edibles left, but an employee counts 11, the employee should be able to report a discrepancy through the system, which is then submitted to management. Managers can then physically count product, compare sales and adjust accordingly to ensure that the state-reported inventory is correct.
“We can find out what happened that made that inventory [count inaccurate], and I love that,” Land says.
2. Direct uploads to the state tracking system
Dispensary operators should look for inventory management systems that can accurately upload sales data directly to the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system, Land says.
“We do double check ourselves just to make sure we’re extra compliant, but before, when we’d do that upload from our old system, we’d catch five or six red flags of things that were overpulled, underpulled—just different issues,” he says.
3. The ability to transfer product between rooms—and store locations
At Nature’s Gift Shop, Land keeps all the product in a safe in the back room to keep it fresh and secure, except for one package, which is staged on the sales floor. With his inventory management system, employees can easily scan product to transfer it from the safe to the front for sale.
“That’s really important for inventory management and keeping the workflow going throughout the day,” Land says.
In addition, if Nature’s Gift Shop were to open a second location, the company could transfer inventory through its software instead of reuploading all the product manually, he adds.
4. The ability to track customers’ daily quotas
In Colorado, customers can only purchase a total of 28 grams of cannabis per day, and POS systems Land has worked with in the past have not been able to track this.
“Before, we built out a calculator … through Google Sheets, … and it [helped us answer customers when they asked,] ‘I have this much edibles, this much concentrate, this much flower—how much can I still buy?’” Land says. “It was a calculator built to make sure we didn’t oversell a customer.”
POS systems are now able to scan a customer’s ID and track how much that customer has purchased that day.
“That compliance is a relief, so I don’t have to worry about one of my employees doing the math incorrectly,” Land says. “That’s a violation people don’t want to deal with.”
5. ID checking
Accurately checking a customer’s ID can help ensure that they are of legal age and eligible to purchase cannabis, and some POS systems are able to take this task off budtenders’ hands.
“At Nature’s Gift Shop, we have three-point verification,” Land says. “We look at your ID physically, … and then we scan it, … and that pulls it up and lets us know you’re 21 or older [and] whether you’re a returning customer or [it’s your] first time. … It’s nice to have that verification. We don’t have to worry about fake IDs or an invalid ID. It just really helps from a compliance standpoint.”
6. Note taking
Some POS systems allow budtenders to take notes on customer preferences, which can improve customer interactions and service, Land says.
“We can put, ‘Hey, Sarah doesn’t like flower, she just likes the edibles,’” he says. “So, whenever we check her in, we’re not even going to talk about flower. We’re going to talk about edibles and see what we can help her out with.”
7. Robust data tracking
Finally, dispensaries should implement POS and inventory management systems that allow them to track data and sales trends. This allows stores to identify and stock up on their best-selling products.
At Nature’s Gift Shop, for example, Land noticed that cartridge sales went up a percentage in the past year.
“I know going forward that I want to bulk up on more cartridges and have more cartridge campaigns,” he says.