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Why Seed-to-Sale Might Not Be the Best Fit for Your Cannabis Dispensary


Cannabis dispensary owners often have a dilemma whether they are better off with a retail point of sale (POS) or seed-to-sale software system when it comes to cannabis retail business activities. With the term seed-to-sale appearing quite frequently in official regulatory language, one could easily conclude that seed-to-sale software is the only option to comply with state or provincial reporting requirements. But in reality, cannabis retailers are better served by a cannabis POS specifically created for retail rather than investing in a full-blown seed-to-sale system, which is primarily-designed for cultivation activities.

In the early days of legalization, when most cannabis organizations were vertically-integrated and operated only from one location, seed-to-sale systems worked well in the primitive ecosystem of the cannabis industry. However, the industry has evolved rapidly since then, especially with the recent accelerated boom in cannabis retail due to it being considered essential during the pandemic. And the truth is that you are certainly better off with a specialized cannabis-specific POS than an all-in-one solution for your retail store in the modern cannabis landscape, one with an expanding list of retail-only businesses and multi-state, multi-location operations that must constantly adapt to the changing needs of an ever-growing clientele.

Why Cannabis Retailers Prefer POS Over Seed to Sale

A seed-to-sale system may meet all agricultural, processing, packaging, and retail needs in one convenient solution, and can still be a viable option for small-scale, vertically-integrated operations that may not have the budget for more than one software subscription. But as government traceability systems have become more streamlined for retail-only licensees, the need for specialized software has grown, and a cannabis-specific point of sale provides much greater value.

Using seed-to-sale software for cannabis retail operations means sacrificing customer experience and critical features such as sales reports and analytics that help you streamline processes and increase revenues. Not only will a cannabis-specific dispensary POS worth its salt help keep your customers happy and return for more, but for vertically-integrated businesses at the enterprise level, it will also integrate seamlessly with your cultivation and processing software.

Of course, if your business is strictly retail, a seed-to-sale system is not only redundant but also not cost-effective. Despite what you may have read or heard, the truth is that seed-to-sale software is NOT necessary to keep you in compliance with traceability and reporting requirements. As long as your cannabis retail POS can manage your cannabis inventory properly and is fully integrated with the government tracking and traceability system for reporting purposes, you don't need to worry about any compliance issues.

Ultimately, regardless of whether you are a vertically-integrated cannabis business with one or more retail locations or a single site stand-alone retailer, the best dispensary POS system will provide everything you need to deliver a better customer experience, streamline inventory management, and keep your operations in line with regulations, without the added expense of unrequired functionalities.

Shortcomings of Seed to Sale Software for Cannabis Retailers

1. Paying for unnecessary features instead of the ones needed

As a cannabis retailer, subscribing to a seed-to-sale system means unnecessarily paying for features and functions that you simply will never need or use. What is worse is that the system will also lack key features to help you maximize your retail operations. A seed-to-sale software simply cannot match the depth of functionality and level of sophistication of a retail-specific solution. Most cultivation systems lack a full suite of retail tools and features, including:

  • ID scanners for validation of customer age and photo.
  • Ecommerce and delivery functionalities
  • Digital menus and kiosks for enhanced customer experience and education.
  • Employee scheduling and health screening tools
  • Seamless integration with government traceability systems like Metrc to ensure automated compliance.
  • Integration with popular third-party sites like Weedmaps and Leafly and a host of other cannabis technology platforms.

2. Expert-level support & software updates not readily available

If you are a vertically-integrated cannabis company, you will indeed need cultivation and processing software along with your retail platform for your business to flourish. But here again, seed-to-sale exclusive systems fall short in providing expert retail-focused development and support, resulting in delayed resolutions, avoidable system downtime, and lost revenue. Seldom you will find any seed-to-sale support personnel adept at both cultivation and retail software and the nuances involved in operating in each of these sectors. Ensure that you choose a dedicated system for your retail or cultivation business that specializes in the cannabis sector you operate in and is not an all-in-one solution so that you can benefit from their expertise, fast innovation and regular product updates while always staying compliant with the law.

3. The more you scale, the less stable the platform becomes

The truth is that old-school seed-to-sale systems are not reliable and not built for enterprise retail operations. There have been numerous documented system failures and crashes with non-retail software that has cost retailers a significant amount of lost sales. Moreover, such platforms tend to become unstable as your business grows as they are primarily designed for cultivation activities and cannot sustain an enterprise cannabis retail business. A cannabis retail POS puts advanced reporting capabilities in your hands, enabling you to monitor your business operations with metrics that matter to you. An enterprise-proven solution with reliable high-volume performance helps you streamline day-to-day activities and centralize data while delivering a consistent customer retail experience.

See Cova in Action with a Free Demo

Cova’s built-in compliance features include traceability system integrations that provide automated data reporting to state and province tracking systems. Eliminating manual reporting saves time and money while significantly reducing the risk of human error which could potentially lead to compliance infractions. Cova also keeps retailers compliant with automated product equivalency conversions and enforced purchase limits — so your budtenders inadvertently do not sell more than the legal allowance. Additionally, Cova simplifies cannabis inventory management and offers unrivaled dispensary reporting features so you can streamline your operations, maximize efficiencies, and gain deeper insights into your business. If you are ready to see how Cova can take your cannabis retail operations to new heights, book a free demo with us now.


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