Seed-to-sale software has quickly become an integral factor in the expanding growing cannabis industry over the past few years. In an industry where supply chain processes are so often hampered by ever-changing laws and regulations, it is vital for cannabis businesses to invest in the right software to make their compliance, tracking, monitoring, and financial planning needs easier.
Seed-to-sale software offers cannabis business owners a compact, streamlined solution to the problems posed by the fluctuating state laws and regulations regarding cannabis.
In this article, we shall get into the what, why, and when of seed-to-sale software in the everyday running of a cannabis business.
Seed-to-sale is a term unique to the cannabis industry, used to describe the lifecycle of the marijuana plant from the instance of cultivation to the point of sale to the consumer. Seed-to-sale software acts as an all-in-one solution to help run tracking and reporting activities cannabis license holders undertake in order to maintain compliance and keep their license.
This software is entirely unique to the cannabis industry, developed to help cannabis businesses gather and maintain all the data involved in the growing, distribution, and tracking of cannabis operations.
Different seed-to-sale software solutions may offer varying degrees of services, with some capable of running entire cannabis operations, while others primarily offer tracking services for inventory purposes.
However, the overarching requirement for all seed-to-sale software is that it should allow users to track every stage of the cannabis supply chain, from cultivation to final sale, and it should help cannabis license holders remain compliant and licensed.
Seed-to-sale software is primarily marketed towards cannabis license holders. This includes standard and micro license classes for cultivation, processing, distribution, and retailers/dispensaries. As earlier mentioned, different seed-to-sale software solutions can offer different ranges of services that can be scaled up or down depending on your operation’s unique needs.
For instance, a cannabis business whose focus is primarily on cultivation and not distribution and sales would not require an all-inclusive seed-to-sale software solution with the added features necessary for monitoring distribution and sales. This is where modular seed-to-sale software solutions come in handy for the best business value at the lowest cost.
However, while seed-to-sale software is important, it is not legally required by most cannabis regulators, and the decision to use it lies in the license holder’s hands. Many states have robust mandated track-and-trace software, seed-to-sale systems that allow state regulatory departments to track their legal market.
For cannabis retail businesses in particular, the extra features of seed-to-sale software may appear redundant when compared to cannabis-specific Point of Sale (POS) systems. Instead of going for the less cost-effective all-in-one solution that is seed-to-sale software, many cannabis retailers are opting for customizable POS systems that allow full integration with government track-and-trace systems.
The basic purpose of seed to sale software is to track and manage the marijuana plant and its products throughout the seed to sale cycle. Typically, seed to sale software allows cannabis license holders to track data surrounding the following processes:
The general expectation is that state governing authorities have towards cannabis businesses is that every single plant must be tracked, from planting to sale. Different states have their own stringent regulations for tracking the entire life cycle of the cannabis plant, and seed-to-sal software helps cultivators remain compliant with state and local regulations.
One of the key ways it does this is by enabling cultivators to track each different phase of the marijuana plant’s life cycle, so that inspection authorities can easily identify each plant in a specific growth phase (seedling, vegetative, or flowering).
Using seed-to-sale software, cultivators can also manage plant growing conditions for optimal yield output, using data from genealogy tracking and strain tracking to fine-tune conditions.
From propagation to harvest, seed to sale software provides unique plant identifiers with automated records of watering cycles, pesticides, nutrients, and more.
With this data readily available, cultivators are better equipped to keep up with state traceability and compliance demands.
Some seed-to-sale software solutions also allow management to know which employees are handling which marijuana plants at any given time. This helps with accountability and chain of custody tracking.
The process of converting cannabis from raw plants to different products like oils, edibles, sweets, beverages, and even cosmetics, requires extreme meticulousness, as one wrong decision during processing could send your business into financial ruin.
Cannabis businesses need to ensure that, during processing, they remain within the confines of the law. For this reason, they need the best seed-to-sale software, not just to manage the basics of cannabis processing, but also to ensure compliance with state regulations is maintained every step of the way.
Seed-to-sale software can help cannabis processors to streamline their operations to ensure processing activities are scalable and repeatable. This ensures that the business can produce the same high-quality products consistently at a controlled cost.
It also helps with inventory before the products are distributed to retail stores in different locations. This is crucial for audit purposes, and allows your business to create a clear paper trail that maps on what products you are processing and where they are going, should the law come knocking for receipts.
Cannabis retail store owners are often required by law to document their business sales, cannabis inventory, and transaction details. Seed-to-sale software offers a convenient way of doing this in a variety of ways.
Seed-to-sale software comes with features like product barcodes, audit trails, product inventory management tools, and retail transaction monitoring — , all to help cannabis retail store owners manage and monitor their businesses. It keeps track of the sales made by the store and documents all the bills you receive.
Some solutions offer an integrated scale feature that allows processors and distributors to measure and dispense the accurate dosages of THC and cannabidiol in different products for different consumers.
As of January 2022, sixteen states have mandated Metrc tracking software to help state authorities track and trace cannabis from growth, harvest, and processing to testing, transport, and sale. According to the makers of Metrc, the software’s purpose is to create safety and transparency for consumers in the cannabis industry.
For cannabis producers and retailers, this may just sound like the added hassle of state-mandated plant tracking and compliance data entry. However, with third party integration, Metrc can serve as a valuable tool for data reporting and maintaining compliance.
Metrc, which is short for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting Compliance, is a web-based SaaS software platform developed by Franwell to aid in the tracking of cannabis production and products from seed-to-sale in the legalized cannabis industry.
It has been adopted by several states to track the production, manufacturing, testing, distribution, and sale of cannabis products in the U.S. Although it bears many functional similarities to seed-to-sale software, it is not the same.
Metrc is referred to as track-and-trace (T & T) software or traceability software. It is built to track and manage cannabis information and reporting throughout the supply chain. However, it does not offer the cannabis business owner in-depth data on the cannabis supply chain.
While Metrc is basically a reporting tool that does not offer insights to cannabis business owners, it offers an API that allows third party software to interact with their system. This means cannabis cultivators, processors, and retailers can use seed-to-sale software that allows Metrc integration to improve their compliance data reporting processes.
A seed-to-sale software solution serves as an all-in-one package that caters to a cannabis business’s cultivation, processing, packaging, and retail needs. While that may have served nicely in the past, when most cannabis operations were still small-scale small scale and vertically integrated, it is slowly becoming a redundant option. in the process.
POS software has evolved rapidly over the years to serve the needs of cannabis business owners, particularly retailers and dispensaries. Unlike seed to sale software, which has to spread its functionality across cultivation, processing, distribution, and retail, POS systems can concentrate their efforts entirely on retail operations.
With state-mandated traceability platforms like Metrc becoming more streamlined for retail-only license holders, there is an increasing demand for specialized operations management software, and POS software fulfils that need.
Using seed-to-sale software for retail operations may mean losing out on customer experience and important features like sales reports and analytics. An inadequate ERM system can leave your business open to discrepancies with inventory, which can then lead to failure to maintain compliance and even the revoking of your license.
With a good POS system that integrates with government traceability platforms, you can ensure your inventory is well managed while also remaining compliant, and save costs you would have spent on otherwise redundant extra features that come with seed-to-sale software.
Inventory management software will typically track inventory for cannabis retail stores by recording and monitoring individual batches and products from the time they enter the store to the time they are sold.
It allows real-time tracking and reporting of inventory data that can then be reported to state regulators through integration with government traceability software.
The primary difference between inventory management software and seed to sale software lies in the specificity of services offered.
Inventory management software is targeted specifically towards running inventory, and it requires integration with other features like POS and traceability software to run the business.
Seed to sale software on the other hand offers a holistic user experience with little or no additional integrations required.
Although you may hear the terms “seed to sale”, “track and trace”, and “traceability” used interchangeably, they are not the same thing.
Seed-to-sale software functions as a tool for cannabis cultivators, processors, distributors, and retailers to track and monitor their product as it makes its way from germination to the hands of the consumer. It helps businesses manage their operations and creates reports with valuable industry insights.
Track and trace software, on the other hand, is built with the consumer in mind, serving as a tool for government regulators to track cannabis through its seed to sale cycle with the purpose of offering consumers safety and transparency.
So, while both do track seed to sale cycles, only seed to sale software is really involved in the management of cannabis businesses.
Although many cannabis retailers are opting for other specialized business management tools, seed to sale software remains a staple for running any cannabis business. If you are looking to learn more about what technology you need to run a successful dispensary, check out this article.