Cannabis dispensaries face a gold rush of opportunity along with daunting regulatory oversight. In the U.S., cannabis laws and regulations vary by state. However, a common mandate is that businesses use software to track the plant life cycle from origin to final sale.
This requirement means that every cannabis company needs to employ a tracking system. As they serve customers, dispensaries also must manage other critical business functions such as point-of-sale (POS) transactions. Seed-to-sale software provides a single solution that simplifies compliance, supports quality control, and boosts retail sales through accurate, actionable data.
What Is Seed-to-Sale Software?
Seed-to-sale applications offer dispensaries a comprehensive tool to track the cannabis product life cycle and support associated business operations. The scope typically includes:
- Cultivation tracking
- Inventory control
- Regulatory compliance
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
Some sources refer to seed-to-sale as track-and-trace. However, track-and-trace applications only monitor the plant life cycle from seed or clone through the final product sale. They do not offer integrated business management tools to help dispensaries thrive in the cannabis frontier. A true seed-to-sale solution is a lean enterprise resource planning (ERP) application featuring more rigorous regulatory reporting and compliance monitoring than a typical ERP provides.
A Solution for Each Business Model
Cannabis businesses across the supply chain will find seed-to-sale options for each segment. All companies need software to manage licensing, reporting, product labeling, and other compliance items.
Growers need a tracking system that can handle the entire supply chain. The seed-to-sale tracking system should meet or exceed government-sanctioned Metrc track-and-trace compliance requirements.
Dispensaries and other customer-facing operations also need product inventory management, CRM, and POS support. Medical dispensary applications must meet HIPAA standards for safeguarding client health information.
Robust seed-to-sale software offers features crucial to a profitable and compliant dispensary. They can include:
- Materials requirements planning
- Cannabis batch yield logs
- Inventory management
- Waste and defect management analysis
- Delivery tracking
- Product labeling
- POS options such as a storefront, e-commerce, and self-serve kiosk
- Fully compliant reporting
The best seed-to-sale software helps businesses improve operations and sales as well as stay compliant. Precise tracking of materials and inventory reduces waste and theft. Chain-of-custody traceability fosters consistent quality and a strong reputation.
Who Uses a Seed-to-Sale System?
Licensed cannabis businesses such as dispensaries account for most seed-to-sale system sales. Depending on local laws and the market, a company may focus on cultivation, processing, dispensing, or a combination.
Many growers operate dispensaries, and some states require them to do so. These businesses must manage the entire supply chain and benefit from a full-featured ERP developed for the cannabis industry.
The market includes other organizations such as testing facilities, agricultural vendors, and wholesale customers. Any entity touching the cannabis supply chain must track cannabis-related activity.
Cannabis regulators comprise another stakeholder group. They rely on software to document the product chain of custody and monitor dispensary adherence to regulations and quality standards. They also need to quickly identify the source of any defective or contaminated products for recall and remediation.
How Does a Seed-to-Sale System Work?
The track-and-trace system core starts with tagging cannabis seed containers and plants with barcodes or QR codes for tracking. Most growers use cloned young plants rather than seeds. Each plant is tagged so that its movements are precisely tracked, even within the cultivation facility.
Employees generally use mobile scanners to read the codes at the plant or product site, similar to how retail stores manage floor and shipping inventory. The barcode or QR code stays with the plant throughout the supply chain and remains attached to the final product. This practice ensures complete chain-of-custody tracking.
In addition to traceability, the software system enables compliance monitoring and reporting across the supply chain. A grower operating a dispensary will want an application capable of managing these segments:
- Plant cultivation
- Extraction of plant constituents
- Product distribution
- Product sales
How to Choose the Best Seed-to-Sale System?
Due to the cannabis industry’s complexity and evolution, businesses should regard their software vendors as long-term technology partners. They should choose a stable provider with proven cannabis sector expertise and a robust, user-friendly application.
Document Business Requirements
Dispensaries should take the time to document their business requirements, including legal and regulatory compliance needs. They should list any issues with existing processes and procedures that the new solution should solve.
Businesses should consider their growth plans. Which ERP functions do they expect to adopt in the future? What is their feature wish list for today?
Dispensaries should evaluate whether the new application needs to integrate with existing company systems. They should inventory all systems, including hardware, to accurately capture IT infrastructure.
Businesses should choose a solution that supports the supply chain segments they serve. For example, all companies will need inventory control, but dispensaries will also benefit from HIPAA compliance and POS management.
Select a Cannabis Industry Partner
Dispensaries should study the cannabis ERP market and obtain referrals from similar businesses. Factors to consider when choosing a vendor:
- A track record with cannabis dispensary clients
- Knowledge of cannabis regulations and standards
- The capability to support the entire cannabis supply chain
- Financial stability and size
- Training, support, and maintenance services
Legal cannabis is no longer a niche market, and dispensaries have software options. Once they have found suitable candidates, businesses should evaluate each application further:
- Software robustness, including security and standards adherence
- Integration with existing systems
- Hosting and other infrastructure
- Intuitiveness of user interface
- Workflow configurability
- Upgrade path
- Customization options
From Seed to Success
Businesses should keep in mind that any solution will require some customization to fit their needs. Therefore, the best seed-to-sale software includes a stellar vendor relationship.
As its business grows, every dispensary wants to leverage an intuitive, scalable, and compliant application. Chetu offers custom seed-to-sale software development tailored to the cannabis industry. Success begins with a conversation about building it.