Seed-to-sale software for the cannabis industry

With any burgeoning industry, new operational challenges are created and new software companies will rise to solve each challenge. This is true for the cannabis industry, and companies like Canix have developed seed-to-sale systems to help growers, manufacturers, and distributors manage compliance and run their businesses.  

Since 2012, when Colorado and Washington legalized recreational purchasing and consumption of marijuana, the compliance requirements of producing cannabis products have continued to evolve. Initially, systems like Leaf Data Systems (MJ Freeway / Akerna) and BioTrack provided marijuana-approving states with track and trace software. However, as of 2020, Metrc (Franwell company) has emerged as the dominant track and trace software for 15 medical and recreational states.

The requirements of these state track and trace systems change regularly and cannabis companies struggle to keep accurate inventory records and follow appropriate compliance rules. This has led to the rise of seed to sale systems which are designed to track inventory and automate data submissions to their corresponding government systems.

Seed-to-Sale Software

Many cannabis software platforms have been developed to aid the needs to cannabis companies trying to automate workflows. The common name for these platforms is: Seed-to-Sale Software and Cannabis ERP Software being the all encompassing solutions covering multiple verticals.

Definition:

An application utilized for plant tracking from the initial growth to the final sale or cannabis products.

This also includes:
· Inventory control
· CRM functionality
· Business intelligence reporting
· Integration with government track and trace systems.
These systems often have similar feature sets but vary widely on the type of companies they serve. This page outlines the features, benefits, user types, and some decision criteria when selecting a cannabis seed-to-sale software provider.

Features

Cannabis seed-to-sale systems are designed to simplify the inventory and compliance tracking process for cannabis company operators. From inventory to harvest, these systems enable users to manage their business with fewer hours and increased accuracy. They can have a range of features including:

  • Inventory Tracking (cannabis & non-cannabis)

    Ease of use when organizing inventory locations and updating those locations is critical for tracking inventory.

  • Barcode scanning & RFID Scanning

    State mandated Metrc tags contain both barcodes and RFID chips; however, a 3rd party seed to sale system is needed to utilize the visual or electronic scanning of the tags.

  • Label Printing

    In addition to state mandated tags, there are additional usages  for printing labels for tracking inventory.

  • Metrc or State Track & Trace system integration

    Seamless integration with state compliance systems is essential for a good seed to sale system and helps keep operations in good standing with state regulations.

  • Mobile Access

    Mobile data entry prevents data bottlenecks and empowers employees to enter consistent and reliable data at the point of action.

  • Inventory Forecasting

    Empower sales teams to presell inventory as well as plan resource needs for the organization using consistent data.

  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

    Standard supply chain workflows apply too many aspects of the cannabis industry, but there remain unique workflows required by the state, and for processing products. The right seed to sale system will provide automations for SOPs.

  • Invoicing and Sales Tracking

    Keep track of all sales and payments from customers.

  • Bill of Materials (BOM)

    Tracking materials required for processing helps to establish a cost of goods to determine product profitability.

  • Task Management

    Managing employee work flows and calculating worker productivity is improved  with a proper task management creation and automation system.

  • Yield & Financial Reporting

    Visibility into the operation’s financials is imperative for planning long-term sustainability. Utilize seed to sale reporting to facilitate decisions based on productivity and cost of goods.

  • Integrations

    Share data between software solutions and maximize automations and advanced reporting tools.

Benefits

The blend of features offered by seed-to-sale systems can range from a focus on financials to workflows, and benefits to a variety of users. When considering the features and how they may help your specific company, it's important to have a clear understanding of what benefits are best suited to your organization.  Some of the benefits--and key metrics--showcasing the software’s effectiveness include:

1

Time Savings -
Reduce data entry needed and increase accuracy with software and hardware automations. The use of mobile devices, scanners, and computers eliminate the need for pen and paper, disparate spreadsheets, and data entry duplication.

3

Business Intelligence -
Advanced analytics helps drive important business decisions based on accurate data.

2

Simplify Workflows -
Get a team up and running within days using intuitive software which ensures proper data is entered and workflows are followed.

4

Financial Visibility -
Easily calculate organizational profitability down to the line items such as profitability by strain and location.

The Supply Chain - Users

The blend of features offered by seed to sale systems can range from a focus on financials to workflows, and benefits to a variety of users. When considering the features and how they may help your specific company, it's important to have a clear understanding of what benefits are best suited to your organization.  Some of the benefits--and key metrics--showcasing the software’s effectiveness include:

Cultivators and Growers

The cannabis plant life cycle starts with cultivators, where the initial source of state tracking requirements begin. Whether starting from clones or seeds, all marijuana-approved states require tagging systems for each plant or plant batch. The goals of state systems are to track each phase of plant growth—from initial plantings, to flowering plants, and finally, to packaged dried cannabis. Seed to sale systems help cultivators automate plant tracking through the phases and introduce workflow efficiencies like hardware integration with RFID or barcode scanners and bluetooth scale integrations. Seed-to-sale systems also improve financial reporting on crop yields and assist in calculating cost of goods sold (COGS).

Distributors

State cannabis transportation requirements vary between states.. Most require a distribution license which prevents plant-touching under the license, and only allow packaging or repackaging of the final products. Distributors have a unique set of state compliance requirements which revolve around route tracking and the steps to ensure products are received between licenses. Seed to sale systems help distributors track products in accordance with state requirements and generate automated reports. Additionally, these software systems integrate with other transportation software like Onfleet for additional automations. With  high volumes of product movement, Distributors benefit greatly from efficiency-boosting software.

Manufacturers and Processors

With increasing demand of cannabis-infused products, the numbers of cannabis extraction and manufacturing companies have been steadily increasing. These companies have unique compliance requirements, as they are simply purchasing cannabis biomass and processing through various techniques. This can be as simple as creating pre-rolls or complicated extraction and distillation methods. State tracking requirements apply specifically to the cannabis products and their re-packaging. However, manufacturers and processors must also track inventory for non-cannabis items and establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the processing of cannabis goods. This is where a seed to sale system assists with tracking manufacturing requirements of cannabis and non-cannabis related goods, as well as with the recipes used to create production goods.

Vertical Integrators

Those companies which own all of the cannabis producer license types—known as vertical integrators—often need all of the features within a seed-to-sale system, and many look for more complex systems known as Enterprise Resource Planners (ERPs). An ERP must track the products through the entire supply chain, focusing on efficiency and reporting to assist the uniquZe needs of a larger organization, which also have specific requirements for employee permissions and other software integrations. For vertical integrators with plans for expansion, a system which can support rapid growth and model with internal workflows is a real necessity!

Evaluating Seed-to-Sale Providers

As with many growing industries, ancillary software services emerge to help with automation improve the competitive advantages.  However, being a highly regulated industry with rapid growth, cannabis companies have unique needs which many software services cannot address. When reviewing the hundreds
of seed-to-sale software providers, it's important to clarify your company’s specific needs and establish the selection criteria to make selecting the ideal system easier. Some of the most useful factors include:

Integrations

Limiting data entry and increasing workflow efficiency are standard benefits of current software solutions. Modern software products have the ability to communicate with one another via standard APIs --the backbone of data integration. Seed-to-sale platforms shouldn’t have a robust API with the ability to integrate with other systems.
Some of the most common integrations for seed-to-sale systems are:

Accounting software
Scanners (RFID & Barcode)
Scales
Transportation
Analytics Tools
Government Systems (State, County, and City requirements)

Software Cost

The cost of a seed-to-sale system varies, from less than $100 per month up to thousands of dollars per month, usually depending on the unique needs of the company, the workflow requirements, the depth of features offered, and integrations of the software. For smaller owner-operators, software companies may charge between $100-500 each month, depending on the size of the team, specific features you need, and which type of cannabis business you are in. Medium size operations can expect upwards of $500 per month for larger license types, while larger vertical operations can rise to the $1000s per month.

System Differences

Many seed-to-sale systems have different features as well as different value propositions and associated costs. Here is a rubric to help evaluate decision criteria.

State Track & Trace Integration
Usability
Organization Features
Tag Scanning
Customer Service
Pricing
Contracts
2-way integration
Simplicity
Cultivation Features
Barcode Scanning
Real Time Communications (Live chat or Phone)
Onboarding Fees
Contract Length
Submission Error Handling
Onboarding Process
Manufacturing Features
RFID
Scanning
Customers / Reps Ratio
Monthly Fees
Contract Terms
Submission Accuracy
Training Requirements
Distribution Features
tag autofill
Training Program & implementation time
Add-on costs & hardware costs
Cancellation Clause
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