You’ve jumped through all the hoops, received your retail cannabis licence, designed a modern and inviting store, and you feel ready to start selling to customers. However, before you open the doors you must confirm your store has a strategy that includes delivery and storage. With so much riding on the accuracy of your inventory, it’s critical to have systems in place not only for compliance’s sake but also to achieve the best sales possible.
From Licenced Producer to Your Store
Unless you’re lucky enough to possess a retail store in Saskatchewan, you are dependent on the government-run wholesaler and distributor to get cannabis from the LP to a warehouse and finally to your store. In Saskatchewan, retailers can get supply directly from a wholesaler or LP that is registered with the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.
Transportation Between Stores
In some provinces, retailers are allowed to transfer product between stores. For example, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario states that, “if a Licensed Retail Operator holds more than one Retail Store Authorization, cannabis may be transferred between their retail stores. Licensees must ensure that the transportation of cannabis is secure, and must maintain records of all movements of cannabis between stores.”
With cannabis and its supporting products being such a delicate entity, great care has to be taken whenever the product moves from one destination to the next. Cannabis is in high demand on the black market and theft is a huge concern while in transit. Careful consideration also has to be given to the vehicle’s climate controls, especially concerning light, heat, and moisture issues.
Choosing a vehicle that can not only supply the right conditions to keep the product viable, but also keep it from being stolen is a huge undertaking. Some companies use armoured vehicles, some have unmarked trucks, and some will even use security guard escorts.
The Cannabis Tracking System monitors the flow of cannabis and ensures a designated amount of legal cannabis is in transport, so you should use a transportation company that offers security services that are tailored to the cannabis industry. They should offer climate control along with cannabis-specific insurance coverage. Do your research and find a delivery company that can also provide their clients with geo-tracking and e-reporting services to guarantee the protection and security of these high-value goods during transportation.
Transportation from a Government Store to a Retail Store
Every province has its own rules regarding delivery. For example, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) states that once an order is “placed and confirmed, BC Cannabis Wholesale orders are shipped by unmarked transportation providers. BC Cannabis Wholesale Customers do not pick up orders at the BC Cannabis distribution centre; orders are delivered according to a delivery schedule. The time it takes for orders to arrive depends on the location of the retailer and order processing time.”
With varying times on delivery, it’s very easy to see why it’s vital to know your inventory. If you have to wait three days to get your next order of a popular strain, that could be three days of cash loss.
If you are lucky enough to develop a relationship with the delivery company, you may be better able to predict the times your store will get new product. This could be used as a marketing tool by telling your customers “new products come in on Wednesdays and Fridays.”
Securing Stock On-site
According to the LDB, “a licensee’s non-medical cannabis stock must be stored at their retail store and off-site storage is not permitted.” This means you will likely need a main vault in addition to several safes and controlled security cases. At the end of each day, the entire stock of cannabis must come off the floor and into your locked space.
As a retailer, it will be up to you on how to store cannabis to give it the longest life—there are literally hundreds of opinions on how to best store your cannabis in whatever form it may be, but keeping it in a cool, dark, dry place in a storage room is a common thought. Light, heat, and moisture will all contribute to a change in the cannabinoids of your cannabis, so having a temperature-controlled room will be the best-case scenario. Ideally, you want to keep the storage temperature between 32° and 68° F—anything hotter or colder than that can adversely affect the flowers.
Using dark glass containers will also protect your product from harmful UV rays, while letting non-harmful UV rays penetrate through. For other cannabis products, such as oils, edibles, and beverages, you will need to do some research as some will require refrigeration, while others may have a certain shelf life you will need to monitor.
Best Storage Practices
Once the minimum regulated requirements for security are met, a store can form its plan on the best storage practices.
On speaking to Mike Sovereign, Director of Sales for Proforma Retail Space Solutions, a company that has completed secure storage solutions for over 75 stores across Canada to date, he emphasized a store’s need to plan out their storage vault with care and significant thought. Repeatedly, he has noticed that retailers are not giving enough consideration to how much actual space in the store needs to be dedicated to vault storage.
“It is vital that the store uses storage wisely and scientifically if they want to keep up with demand and inventory. Everything in the cannabis store must be sold out of the storage room, thus the need for adequate storage capacity and an organized system. It has to be logical and systematic so a store employee can quickly go into the back and get the product for the customer. If the product can’t be found quickly, then a sale could be lost.”
An organized vault needs adequate space for receiving and processing inventory as well as two storage components, a dispensary component with trays of 1’s, 2’s and 10’s, and then a bulk component for overstock. You don’t want a large box sitting on the shelf with just one package in it.
Creating a high-density system for your secured storage could even double your storage capacity in an existing space. This will be important as you add more SKUs when more product becomes available to the market, such as beverages, edibles, and topicals. If storage is not organized, inventory counting could become time-consuming and unnecessarily difficult.
Growing your store’s sales and inventory takes dedication and a lot of knowledge but having a storage strategy in place will be indispensable.