Stocking Up: 6 Cannabis Inventory Management Tips for 420

A.W. Naves
March 19, 2024

As 420 approaches, cannabis dispensaries are gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year. In 2023, on average, cannabis dispensaries experienced a 13.8% increase in sales during the four weeks leading up to 420. Sales during the month leading up to 420 were 18.5 percent higher in 2023 than in 2022.

With the increasing popularity of cannabis products and even higher sales numbers predicted for 2024, proper cannabis inventory management is vital to guarantee sufficient stock levels and maximize sales. In this article, we'll explore six essential tips to help you manage your cannabis inventory effectively for the 420 holiday and beyond.

What is Cannabis Inventory Management?

Cannabis inventory management involves tracking and controlling the flow of cannabis products from suppliers to customers. It includes monitoring stock levels, analyzing sales data, and optimizing supply chains to meet demand efficiently.

Another important part of dispensary inventory management is compliance. Cannabis dispensaries must be able to manage products and people to be as efficient as possible. The right processes and technology can eliminate the hassle of manual inventory management and staff scheduling, making the job of running a dispensary simpler for everyone involved.

Why Cannabis Inventory Management is Important for 420

Proper inventory management is essential for a dispensary's success, especially during peak periods like 420. Poor inventory management can lead to stockouts, overstocking, and reduced profitability. By establishing effective inventory management practices, dispensaries can ensure they have the right products in stock at the right time, increasing sales and assuring customer satisfaction.

There are also special considerations with dispensary inventory management that other businesses don’t have to deal with. Regulations determine how your dispensary buys and stores your product but also how you display and sell it. Your cannabis inventory must meet your state’s traceability requirements as well. This makes your job of keeping proper levels of inventory available much more difficult than what some other business owners experience.

A budtender counting cannabis inventory from a shelf while crosschecking information on his tablet.

6 Dispensary Inventory Management Tips for 420

If you are looking for ways to control your inventory in a way that gets the best product to your customers when they want it, here are six tips for managing cannabis inventory that will benefit any dispensary.

1. Use Dispensary Inventory Management Software

Investing in cannabis inventory management software will help streamline your inventory processes, saving time and resources. Designate a person or team to maintain inventory levels, and set procedures to prevent any miscommunications. If you set a minimum stock level and reorder when your inventory falls to that level, you will always have enough product on hand to meet demand. 

Additional benefits of using inventory management software include:

  • Automated Tracking: Inventory management software automates the tracking of cannabis products, reducing the risk of human error in inventory counts and order placement.
  • Real-Time Updates: Provides real-time updates on inventory levels, allowing dispensaries to make informed decisions about restocking and sales strategies.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Helps dispensaries comply with strict regulatory requirements by accurately tracking inventory from seed to sale. This helps with recordkeeping and regulatory reporting.
  • Forecasting and Trends: Enables dispensaries to analyze sales data and trends, facilitating better forecasting and inventory management decisions.
  • Reduced Costs: Prevents overstocking or understocking, minimizing financial losses due to expired or unsold products.
  • Improved Customer Service: Ensures that popular products are always in stock, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

2. Forecast Demand By Analyzing Past Sales Data

Analyze past sales data to forecast demand for 420 accurately. Look for popular products and trends from last year's 420 to help you plan your inventory levels. If you are a new dispensary, this might not be an option, but you can find some valuable information in our KayaPush Industry Report that will help you understand the trends driving cannabis sales and how to determine what you can expect.

3. Leverage Promotions and Sales

Use promotions and sales to move slow-selling items and encourage bulk purchases. Once you know what your customers are after, you can market your products accordingly. Price breaks for higher quantities and discounts on older inventory can help you clear out excess inventory and maximize sales during 420. Additional benefits to offering 420 promotions include:

  • Attracting New Customers: Promotions and sales can attract new customers looking for deals during the 420 holiday.
  • Introducing and Testing New Products: 420 is a great time to introduce new products and product lines to gauge customer interest.
  • Increasing Brand Awareness: Promotions during 420 can increase your brand's visibility and recognition among cannabis consumers.
  • Encouraging Repeat Business: Customers who have a positive experience with a purchase during a promotion are more likely to become repeat buyers.
  • Clearing Out Old Inventory: Discounts on older inventory can help you clear out products that have been sitting on the shelves, making room for new stock.
  • Creating a Sense of Urgency: Limited-time promotions create a sense of urgency, encouraging customers to buy before the deal ends.
  • Boosting Overall Sales: Well-advertised and appealing promotions can lead to an overall increase in sales volume. 

A budtender putting a "420 Sale" sign in the dispensary window to clear out some cannabis inventory.

4. Optimize Supply Chains

Optimize your supply chains to ensure faster product delivery. Know how your product is shipped, delivery times, and stocking times so that you get the product you need as you need it. This kind of streamlining with reliable suppliers and the use of real-time tracking will reduce stockouts and overstocking. 

Seek out suppliers that offer a Vendor-Managed Inventory (VMI) strategy to let your supplier monitor inventory levels and send replenishments as needed. You’ll also want to maintain your control over such an arrangement by monitoring the system from your end.

5. Organize Stock Rotation and Shelf Life

Use a multi-pronged method of organizing and rotating your stock to guarantee maximum shelf life:

  • Create a FIFO (first in, first out) or FEFO (first expired, first out) inventory method to ensure older products are sold before newer ones. These methods help maintain the freshness of the cannabis inventory. It prevents products from becoming too dry or stale, increasing customer satisfaction with the products they purchase.
  • Monitor expiration dates and shelf life to minimize waste. Products typically come in one of three categories: flower, edibles, and concentrate. Arranging your inventory so that items with similar storage requirements together will allow you to store them in a manner that promotes maximum shelf life and simplifies rotation procedures. Flower will benefit from a humidity-controlled area. Concentrates can be kept in a cooler area or even a refrigerator. Edibles can be stored at room temperature and rotated per expiration date.
  • Determine the optimal warehouse layout using shelves, bins, labels, and signage for easy identification. Regularly audit your inventory to ensure accuracy. Always know where your product is located and the current stock level for easy replenishment and access. This allows you and your staff to visually see when a product is low while pulling it from the shelf in addition to other low inventory flags you have in place.

Jars and bags of various cannabis products that have been organized to simplify inventory management

6. Have a Contingency Plan

Plan for potential supply chain disruptions around 420 and unexpectedly high demand. Consider alternative sourcing strategies to ensure you can meet demand even in challenging circumstances. In addition to knowing how to get more product quickly, you’ll also want to make sure you have a great staffing plan that includes backup personnel in case of absences. Line up alternate employees or pull from a less busy dispensary, if necessary.

Final Thoughts on Cannabis Inventory Management for 420

Proper inventory management is crucial for dispensaries to maximize sales and profitability during 420. Maintaining enough inventory depends on knowing how much product you have in stock, where it is located, and placing orders for new stock efficiently. Appropriate stock levels are the key to serving your customers’ needs and allowing you to reorder in a manner that keeps your pricing competitive.

By employing the tips for dispensary inventory management outlined in this article, your dispensary can ensure they have the right products in stock at the right time, leading to a successful 420 season and beyond. You can also download our 420 dispensary guide for more tips and strategies on how to manage your cannabis inventory effectively for 420.

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