The business gods are crazy. Somehow, they managed to name things that can make or break our companies with preposterous names. First, they gave us POSes, which brings to mind something completely different than what it is, Point Of Sale, a system that can not only account for sales, but every external interaction a retail store can have – where money goes in and…out.
But then they tried to bludgeon us into boredom with the terrifically sleepily named, Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP, systems. Oh, Ye Gods! What lifeless and beige thing are you assaulting us with? But actually, this dreadful name is mere camouflage for a weapon that separates grown-ups from children in business. With a good ERP and training, your company can rise from a crawl to a run. Making POSes and ERPs more like Promethean fire than Siren calls of malaise.
And so, we asked our readers, what POS and ERP systems do you rely on? And, Lo! They answered. Here we recount and speak to the companies you told us were reliable.
Canix – website
If you’re a cultivator, manufacturer, testing lab, or transport company frustrated with Metrc’s limitations, Canix is the product for you, said Trevor Reeves, Canix’ Head of Growth. Launched in 2019 from the prestigious Y Combinator startup incubator by recent Forbes 30 Under 30’s Stacey Hronowski and Artem Pasyechnyk, Canix acts like a toolkit to make the seed-to-sale tracker Metric useful, with integrations with Quickbooks, OnFleet, RFID scanning and other systems to speed up data collection and inventory management as you move your product.
“The reporting, being able to look at the historicals, knowing harvest profitability and yield data – things Metrc is not equipped for. That’s where we come into play,” said Reeves. “There’s a number of different features to help with the validation of Metrc data, which doesn’t require a lot of guardrails. [To use Metrc correctly] you need to know state regulations. We add those guardrails, such as with managing multistrain harvests, or too many plantings, we will keep you within those state guidelines.”
While Canix is currently for Metrc only, the company hopes to roll out a BioTrack version soon.
Cova – website
Born out of another POS company that developed the leading system for cellular phone stores, Cova has grown to become the second largest cannabis POS company in the U.S., with majority market share in Canada, says Cova CEO Gary Cohen, who spent a year talking to dispensary owners before launching their POS tool.
“When I talked to people that ran dispensaries, people told me the most important thing was compliance. I told them about our experience, everyone said, ‘I don’t care. If you don’t make it job number one to help me keep my license, I don’t care about your story.’ So, that has been our mission: Compliance first.”
Cova spends an enormous amount of energy on customer service and tweaking their system to match local compliance needs. For instance, Illinois requires dispensaries to confirm customers haven’t purchased over a daily limit from any retailer in the state, Cova built a routine in their POS that checks the state database prior to purchase to ensure compliance.
“Our whole journey has been like that. Every state just throws in a monkey wrench. No matter what we pay in consulting and legal. The question is: How can we build the software to get the human error aspect out of the equation,” said Cohen.
Flowhub – website
Founded by a former chief compliance officer of Metrc, Flowhub is, “primarily focused on dispensary owners,” said Senior Vice President of Sales Stephanie Jenkins. “The suite of products we offer are focused on making life simple for people who run dispensaries – helping them run and operate their business successfully.”
Flowhub has developed a series of interlocking apps for dispensary management, from ID verification, to inventory management, to check out, all integrated with an analytics package.
“As a business owner you want to track every aspect of your business, from which budtenders are most successful what hours of the day am I the most successful,” said Jenkins. Those tools then can integrate with SMS text and loyalty programs, as well as delivery and ecommerce packages. Flowhub is purposefully agnostic with integrations, although today it is only available in states using Metrc, rather than BioTrack or Leaf Data.
“Being born out of a very intense focus on compliance, that is what we try to help our partners with. We work really well with Metric, keeping people compliant and saving time. We’ve built a really robust customer success, product support organization, that takes calls really seriously. If someone calls with a bug, we try to fix it right away,” said Jenkins.
Greenbits – website
Originating at the start of the legal cannabis boom in Washington and Oregon, Greenbits claims more installations with the most dispensaries than any other system.
“We stand out with ease of use and compliance,” said CEO Barry Saik, who took over from founder Ben Curran last year. “We have a system that focuses on the speed and workflow for users, so that they could run their business really efficiently.”
Greenbits purposefully focuses on smaller cannabis companies, up to about twenty dispensaries. “We work really well out of the box. Really well with boutique operations for sure,” said Saik.
One key feature Greenbits developed are app-based components, rather than web-driven apps. App-based systems are more responsive, Saik claims, and also, if internet connections drop or are laggy, Greenbits’ app-based cash registers will still run snappy, saving time at checkout.
“I think a lot of [dispensary operators] don’t realize how their POS is slowing them down and costing time. If people in the front of the house are ringing sales, a lot have cumbersome workflows for budtenders. And a lot of customers go with it. It will take two minutes to ring up a sale. But it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Saik.
LeafTrade – website
Started in Illinois in 2016 and now available in 17 states, LeafTrade isn’t really an ERP or POS. Instead, the wholesale cannabis trading and order fulfillment system has grown to create a category all of its own.
“If you own a 7-Eleven, and want to order Budweiser, you probably won’t have problems with inventory. But that’s not the case with cannabis. Knowing who and how to sell inventory to is probably harder. You need a system to make sure you’re settling to the right people at the right time at the right price,” said Michael Piermont, LeafTrade, President and Chief Revenue Officer.
While most ERPs solve internal operations, LeafTrade is eponymous: It was built to help sell and move wholesale product between dispensaries, manufacturers, and dispensaries. The result is a virtual marketplace with market transparency on product prices and availability. Using LeafTrade, a buyer can immediately know the going wholesale rate and what kinds of product are available from whom.
“First, it started with ordering, then operations and fulfillment, packaging, when orders go out, the approval process, then completing that order with accounting, journaling invoices over, and finally, payment is the last mile in this trip,” said Piermont.
Portal 42 – website
“Owners of cannabis facilities have so much on their plate that they have to manage, all while trying to balance the needs of customers and demands of regulation. Having to also balance a gamut of software companies is unnecessary in our view,” said Portal 42 CEO Courtney Forgues. Michigan-based Portal 42, claims Forgues, has built a soup-to-nuts POS and ERP system for dispensaries that doesn’t rely on third-party systems. Everything you need is part of the app.
Customer service is also a key component of Portal 42’s offering. “While [a dispensary operator] might like the way a POS works, if you can’t get a hold of anyone when you need help the most, it can not only feel frustrating but can also make these facilities feel like they are on an island,” said Forgues. “We make sure that staff is fully trained before opening and at launch are onsite to assist and answer any questions that inevitably arise.”
Yobi – website
Built by a team of engineers who had built POS systems of some of the biggest retailers in the world, Yobi CEO Jeremy O’Keefe says the company excels in creating a user interface that simplifies data entry for budtenders and with a stable enterprise architecture.
“Our product was designed to be consumer facing for new orders. We took that thinking for budtenders, with a strong UI. We hold the user’s hand for each of our processes – rather than presenting them with a huge form,” said O’Keefe. “It’s [also] the backend architecture. How we back it up. How [users] can retrieve data through third-party systems. Because of our financial and retail background, we knew what APIs they’d been looking for.”
O’Keefe and his team, based in Las Vegas and initially spurred on by support from the late Zappos founder Tony Hsieh, believe the future of cannabis management is all about stability for the enterprise, as his team previously experienced while serving multi-national retailers.
“I think not a lot of attention is paid to data retention and security processes,” said O’Keefe. “[Cannabis companies] haven’t really hit the scaling problems a lot of major retailers have. Once they scale up, that will manifest. There are state level requirements that you have to have liability insurance for. [Backend databases are] a potential target for malicious actors like with any major retail database.”
O’Keefe, who says his generation is the first in his family to not be personally impacted by the drug war, says Yobi offers social equity discounts for companies led by “people most impacted by the drug war”.