FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

COVA Company & Product FAQ

PUBLISHED February 23, 2018 - LAST UPDATED February 20, 2020

Cova is a cannabis retail software company with nearly 20 years of retail management and technology experience. Our products include dispensary point-of-sale and inventory management software, on-demand reports, mobile dashboards, delivery solutions, touchscreen menus, and express checkout.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions regarding our company and products.

ABOUT COVA

What makes Cova different?

  • Our experience in reliable technology and retail.

With so many tech startups in the cannabis space, it’s rare to find software built on secure, reliable infrastructure based on nearly two decades of proven technology know-how and experience. Cova’s is. Our cannabis retail platform powers 20,000+ locations of all sizes with virtually no downtime – even on Black Friday and 4/20.

We’ve been with retailers as they opened their first stores and helped them grow to hundreds of locations. And we’ve saved dispensary owners time and money – and potential adverse action against their cannabis operator licenses – by automating compliance reporting through integration with government traceability systems.

  • We’re not just another startup. We’re not going anywhere.  

Unlike other cannabis tech companies, we’re not new to the retail game. Our parent company has been producing proven retail technology solutions for nearly 20 years. We employ over 400 people in offices across Canada and the U.S., and 60 percent of our staff is dedicated solely to product development.

By being a subsidiary of a larger parent company, you get the best of both worlds: we have the agility and entrepreneurial spirit of a startup with the people, support, and financial backing of a successful enterprise company.

  • We’re more than just Point-of-Sale.

We provide industry-leading dispensary point-of-sale systems – but that’s not all. We also offer a suite of digital and touchscreen solutions that integrate together seamlessly so you can manage your pricing, content, and inventory all in one place. All our software comes with built-in analytics and dashboard reporting, and our open APIs allow you to connect to your existing software ecosystem if you choose.

Just think of Cova as your one-stop shop for all your cannabis retail technology needs.

COVA DISPENSARY POS & INVENTORY MANAGEMENT PLATFORM

What is so great about your POS?

  • For budtenders: Our features are designed for speed and efficiency, so you can focus on providing great customer service. For example, our dispensary POS offers ID scanning for registering and checking in customers, search auto-complete functions, and auto-apply taxes and discounts based on membership level. And our offline mode means your lines keep moving – even when your Wi-Fi is spotty.
  • For owners: Cova is built for compliance. Our software integrates with government reporting systems like BioTrack, Leaf, and Metrc, so you reduce the potential for human error when reporting to the state. In Canada, we generate 1-click compliance reports for provincial regulators including AGCO, AGLC, SLGA, and BCLDB. Our completely customizable dashboards generate detailed reports and are viewable on mobile devices, so you get up-to-date data no matter where you are. Cova’s custom permissions settings help you reduce theft and save money, and our open APIs allow you to connect to your existing software ecosystem.
  • All our features are intuitively designed to work on a touchscreen interface.

How much does your software cost?

Our software follows a standard SaaS pricing model – there is a one-time launch cost and a recurring monthly fee.  

What Operating System does Cova run on?

Currently our dispensary POS solution is available on Android. We chose to initially focus on Android (over iOS) for the following reasons:

  • Keep the costs low for the retailer
  • Process of updating the app through the Google Play store enables us to iterate and update quickly and push out new features to you as soon as possible (it can take weeks to be approved for an update with the Apple Store)
  • A tablet form factor was preferred so we could take advantage of built-in features like the camera for scanning (instead of buying a standalone scanner); a tablet also allows the option to checkout anywhere in the store, not just from behind the counter

What do I do with my old iPad from my current POS system?

Our touchscreen menus can repurpose your iPads. If replacing hardware is a concern, please let our team know and we will help you find a solution. 

My store has unreliable Wi-Fi. I don’t know about switching over to a tablet vs. my laptop that is plugged into a landline.

Our software has an Offline Mode, which means you are able to process transactions even your if Wi-Fi is spotty and the signal drops. Any transactions you make will sync automatically once a connection is reestablished.

How often do you make updates and how are those released to us?

We are constantly adding more features based on client feedback, and we make updates approximately once a month. Updates are automatic through the Google Play Store.

How much should I expect to pay in new hardware?

We don’t want you to buy new hardware if you don’t need to. If you have existing printers, scales, scanners, stands, and cash drawers, please let us know and we will have our hardware experts confirm whether they are compatible with our system. If you need a new Android tablet, you can get a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5” for around $330 USD.

What are the network requirements for the application to be accessed at each of the retail locations?

A Wi-Fi network with internet connectivity is required for the POS tablet. The backend functionality is web-based. A modern browser (recommended on a PC/Mac) with internet connectivity is required for the backend components.

What are the hardware options and requirements for POS terminals, accessories, etc.?

The POS is an Android-based solution. Compatible hardware is available here.

I have a high-traffic store. What technology is available to help me?

The technology you use at your retail cannabis store should be able to easily handle the volume of the store. At Cova, we have the ability to dynamically scale with your needs. Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform, Azure, automatically detects instances of heavy traffic (such as sales on 4/20) and assigns further servers and computing power as necessary to compensate—allowing you to process sales without interruption, even during the busiest retail periods.

SYSTEM RELIABILITY & INFRASTRUCTURE

How is the customer data backed up in Cova and what is the backup SLA and options for data restoration?

All Cova data is backed up. Those backups are contractually provided by Microsoft Azure. Through our parent company, iQmetrix, we have an enterprise agreement with Azure to ensure any support requests, such as a data restore, can be assisted with as soon as possible.

What are Cova’s disaster recovery and business continuity processes and SLAs?

Cova maintains two datacenters with active failover in the event of a catastrophic failure in the primary center. Further, due to Cova’s system architecture, it’s possible for Cova to continue to function if certain components are unavailable. Finally, Cova has an “offline mode,” which means core business functions (i.e., tendering sales) will remain available even in the event of a complete system or network failure.

What is Cova’s availability and service/support SLAs?

Our actual, measured SLA from last 30 days across services is 100 percent, with the exception of a reporting service that was 99.98 percent.

How often is the Cova application upgraded (both the backend and the end-user application), how are customers notified, what control does the customer have over upgrade timelines, and how does a customer back out if an update causes an issue?

Cova’s service architecture is designed to be delivered as a platform as a service. Backend services are updated daily, and the client application is typically updated monthly. While there is currently no requirement to utilize the latest version of the client applications, support is only offered on the latest version and current best practices will be on the latest version. iQmetrix is SSAE18 (SSAE16 SOC1) compliant, which means that all change management processes are audited to ensure you are protected against both intentional and unintentional changes that could negatively impact your business.

How is scheduled maintenance handled and what is the impact on the customer?

Cova’s systems are designed with enough redundancy that scheduled maintenance rarely impacts customer operations. In the rare event scheduled maintenance would impact operations, it would be scheduled during off-hours (in the middle of the night), and we work with our enterprise customers to ensure the changes are as least disruptive as possible.

How is sign-on configured for Cova and what options are there for single sign-on integration (i.e., SAML 2.0, ADFS, etc.)?

Default sign-in is via Cova’s management portal (hub). Cova can integrate with other sign-in systems including ADFS, and some custom systems. Sign-on is managed via Cova’s parent company, iQmetrix. We would need to put you in touch with engineers from iQmetrix’s sign-on team to work through an integration scenario with you.

How often are PCI audit reports provided to the customer?

We can provide “attestation of compliance” for PCI-DSS and SSAE 18 upon request.

How is data retention handled in Cova?

Client data is retained indefinitely until such time that the client is no longer with Cova. Data can then be purged upon request.

Does the customer retain ownership of their data in Cova and how does Cova handle data portability?

Client data is owned by the client.

DATA SECURITY & PRIVACY



How does Cova collect and store customer data securely?

Cova leverages the robust data protection solution of iQmetrix, our parent company and a longtime retail management leader in the cellular industry. Powered by this sophisticated software and infrastructure, Cova offers highly secure, enterprise-class data hosting, with all U.S. data stored securely in Azure US-West.

What does Cova do keep Canadian customer data secure?

Consumer data collected in Canada is protected by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This powerful federal law protects customer data even if it’s stored outside Canadian borders, but as an extra measure for the peace of mind of Canadian cannabis customers, Cova ensures that all data collected in Canada remains in Canada, hosted at Azure Canada-Central.

Describe the data encryption in place for the system.

Data in motion is encrypted via SSL. Sensitive data at rest (including backups ) is encrypted at the database layer using the tooling available from Microsoft for the given technology (e.g., SQL Azure uses transparent data encryption to automatically encrypt table data).

Does Cova’s ID scanner collect personal customer data?

By default, Cova’s systems, including the ID scanner, do not keep a record of customer data. The ID scanner is still able to read relevant information from a customer’s ID to expedite the check-in process, reduce human error, and prevent underage sales without storing any personal identifying information. Customers who choose to opt-in and create a profile for the purposes of loyalty programs will have their data securely stored in the Azure Canada-Central server.

What is the security architecture of Cova, how often are security audits conducted and what do they include? How are security audit results provided to customers?

Cova and iQmetrix utilize third-party audits on the systems to ensure compliance with PCI and best practice change management. We can provide “attestation of compliance” for PCI-DSS and SSAE 18 upon request.

How does Cova protect patient and customer information to prevent a data breach like the THSuite leak?

The THSuite incident where personal information was exposed is both shocking, and troubling. According to the news media, internet privacy researches discovered an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket. An S3 bucket is a slightly more advanced form of a simple file share that is hosted in Amazon’s cloud. Normally if one was to save any non public data in a medium like this, they would secure it so it is not publicly accessible by anyone on the internet. It appears this vital (and simple) step did not happen.

Cova is a subsidiary of iQmetrix, a retail management company with over 20 years experience. Cova is built upon iQmetrix’ platform, that includes the storage and hosting of personally identifiable information. Cova and iQmetrix employ different strategies for securing the data including not using simple file stores for core customer information (they are stored in secured database servers), and security audits undertaken by iQmetrix needed for their certifications such as PCI. Being part of a larger organization like iQmetrix affords us the opportunity to continually improve our technology and processes, and make sure we can offer our clients secure, state of the art services.

INTEGRATIONS & OTHER SOLUTIONS



Can your software work with my website?

Yes, we integrate with numerous eCommerce solutions and marketplace platforms. Our open platform and APIs also  allow for custom integration opportunities. You have plenty of options that can ensure your pricing, inventory, and catalog sync to your online menus in real-time.

Are you integrated with Leafly or Weedmaps?

Yes, we now proudly offer convenient integration with both Leafly and Weedmaps platforms. 

Are you integrated with other popular retail applications and technology?

We have existing integrations and partnerships with numerous tech solutions, including CRM, security, loyalty, payment, loyalty, and analytics solutions. This includes industry-leading companies like Headset, Enlighten, springbig, Merrco, and CST Solutions. See our partners page for more information. Our software is also built on our open platform, which allows us the ability to potentially connect and work with your existing systems. Our technical team can to do an analysis on how a specific integration might work.

What is your experience/familiarity integrating with the different state systems?

We are currently integrated with BioTrack, Leaf, and METRC. Our developers are METRC experts and familiar with the processes and workflows necessary for integrating with state systems. Find more information and examples of  Cova's 2-way Metrc integration in California.

In which states is Cova integrated with Metrc?

Cova is currently certified by and integrated with Metrc in California, Colorado, Alaska, Nevada, and Michigan, and Missouri.

We are fully integrated in our state and we are a grower. Do you have full Seed to Sale software?

Given our extensive experience as a retail software company, we have made a conscious decision to focus primarily on the retail side of cannabis. We have open APIs and a knowledgeable integrations team that can look into integrating with a Seed Tracking Solution if necessary. Based on our research and customer feedback, many vertically integrated retailers prefer to run separate, dedicated systems for their grow and retail operations. For more information, check out our blog on the advantages of a compliant cannabis retail POS versus seed-to-sale software.

Can you take credit card payment?

Yes; our system can work with any payment provider of your choosing. Our dispensary POS is configurable with flexible payment type options and can be set up according to whatever payment types you choose to use.

What options/integrations are there to pull data from Cova into data analytics platforms?

Cova maintains a traditional star-schema data warehouse for all sales and transactional data. We are presently working on a strategy to expose this via API, allowing you to pull that data into whatever data analytics platform you choose.

What typical business systems has Cova already tested for integration (i.e. ERP systems, etc.)? How does integration work with systems Cova has not previously integrated with?

In general, Cova’s integration strategy is to expose our platform APIs to third parties to allow easy integration to the system. API integration is a cornerstone of Cova’s strategy. In fact, the Cova software consumes the same APIs that we expose to our customers and partners. Cova has completed over 500 integrations in 1 year, including ERP, CRM, and financial system integrations.

How do you offer API access, what security is used on the API calls (i.e., managed key/OAuth) and what level of encryption is used?

APIs are all REST over HTTPs. Authentication and authorization is via a single sign-on service in our platform that uses the OAuth protocol. SSL encryption is used for all data in motion, and sensitive data at rest is encrypted to industry standard best practice. Our parent company is PCI-DSS Level 1 certified, meaning it and Cova must undergo a third-party audit annually to ensure systems are secured to best practice standards.

LAUNCH AND SUPPORT

What are our on-going support options; phone, email, chat, or in-person support?

We have full-service support with a toll-free number you can call and talk to a real person in-house. You also receive a dedicated account manager to look after your needs. We're always available 7 days a week for emergency support.

 

Cova Support Contact Information:

1.844.667.2682 (COVA)

support@covasoftware.com

https://support.covasoft.com

What launch options are available?

Cova offers on-site and remote assisted launch options to suit different situations and business needs. Whichever option you choose, our implementation specialists will help you set up the system, provide training, and share best practices to ensure you go live with complete confidence.

How long does the data migration/onboarding process take?

The onboarding process typically takes between two and four weeks. Ordering the hardware usually takes the longest. When you sign up, we begin extracting the data from your current system right away with our internal exporting tools. Sensitive material such as customer and loyalty info, inventory, and product information are imported the night before the changeover.

MARKETS WE SERVE

What markets are you serving right now?

We are operating in Colorado, Washington, California, Oklahoma, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Illinois, and Alaska. In Canada, we are operating in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Is Cova optimized for cannabis retail stores in Canada?

As a Canadian company, we couldn’t be more excited to serve our customers in Canada. In fact, the majority of our employees live and work in the country, including all of our development team.

Cova has optimized its POS and inventory management capabilities for Canadian cannabis retail, and has resources dedicated to following Canada’s cannabis regulation changes. Our top priority is to work with provincial and territorial governments to integrate with their reporting systems so that retailers can remain compliant more easily.

Cova is currently the POS-of-choice in close to 52% of the private cannabis stores in Canada, including 90% of Ontario's stores.

 

Faai Steuer

VP of Marketing

Full Bio

Cova Software

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