By Gina Kavesh
The Washington State Liquor control board has created some very specific reporting requirements for the I-502 producers, processors and retailers, including traceability of the products all the way from the grower to the moment when a customer purchases the product from an authorized retailer.
All changes to inventory levels must be reported to the state traceability system, and each business’ internal inventory tracking systems need to match the data they send to the state on a monthly basis, while also keeping detailed records of inventory movement for any audit review purposes.
The electronic cash registers that can be found at office or general merchandise retailers (Office Depot, Costco, Sam’s Club, etc.) can capture sales and can allow for some limited data capturing based on the programmable keys.
However, in order to meet the traceability requirements, licensed retailers will need to put in some very detail-orientated manual processes to capture all the inventory movement and then report it properly to the state.
The cost savings of this sort of solution will be far outweighed by the administrative burden of manually capturing the specific inventory data to report to the state.
Manually tracking your inventory also greatly increases the risk of your actual inventory not balancing to the state records when the Liquor Control Board regulators perform audits of inventory and records. Inventory inaccuracies will put your 502 license at risk in the long run.
There are many tablet- or PC-based software solutions that have been created to support the existing medical marijuana businesses and most of these solutions are readily adaptable for the needs of a 502 retailer and should capture the data required by the Washington State Liquor Control Board for traceability and inventory control.
How to decide which software solution is best for your 502 store is not only determined by making sure that the point-of-sale solution handles all the state government reporting requirements, but also meets the needs of how individuals want to manage/view their business.
There are many solutions available and a good place to start looking is with a simple Google search for “marijuana point of sale.”
You will get a number of specific niche market solutions, as well as some “general” POS solutions that are not industry specific.
As a highly-regulated industry, it’s unlikely that the general POS solutions will be able to meet the reporting standards defined by the state but it’s possible that some of these general solutions will be creating modules to meet the unique needs of this new retail market.
Here are some questions to help you identify the functions you believe will help you manage your business better, in addition to the reporting requirements mandated by the state.
Not thinking about the functions and capabilities you need is much like going to Costco without a shopping list, only to find yourself coming home with the 51-Inch TV rather than the paper towels you had originally gone to the store to purchase.
• Do you want to be on the same platform as the State of Washington?
• Does the software fully integrate into the state-mandated scale as to accurately input weight into inventory and sales transactions?
• What data do you want to capture about your customers for direct marketing purposes?
• What is your budget?
• Does the solution integrate to an accounting/bookkeeping system like Quickbooks or Peachtree to allow robust financial reporting on your business?
• Does the system generate pricing labels with barcodes for faster sales processing?
• What payment solutions are offered in regards to merchant accounts (if there are any)?
• Are there built-in loss prevention reports to highlight unusual cash drawer openings/closings or cash shortages?
• What sort of security levels exists within the POS as to ensure staff members don’t have broader rights than necessary?
• Is the solution PC-based on your premise, or is it hosted at the provider’s premise (cloud-based software)?
• Does your retail space have consistent broadband connectivity?
• Cloud-based solutions must have an ongoing Internet connection to function, so if your broadband connection is unstable, a cloud-based solution may not work well for your business.
• If using a cloud-based solution, is there a redundant local back-up so you can continue to process transactions even when not connected to the Internet?
• How much counter space do you need for the register and peripherals (cash drawers, receipt printer, scanners, scales, etc.)
• What are the annual fees for ongoing support and/or upgrades?
• How does the POS provider stay current with changing state regulations to ensure continual compliance?
• How are orders entered into the system? And then how are these order received into the system based on the state traceability requirements?
Gina Kavesh is the owner of Kavesh Consulting LLC and has been in the retail business for more than 25 years. Kavesh Consulting is focused on working with small to mid-sized retailers to organize inventory and business processes. She can be contacted at email@example.com.