How to pivot inventory compliance with Metrc for your cannabis business

February 18, 2021

Its one and only goal being to make the regulation of the cannabis industry easier for the state, Metrc is not exactly much of a small business tool. The track-and-trace system was built and is maintained in a way that is driven by the need of the state to be kept informed. This being said, we shouldn’t expect it to serve the everyday needs of a small cannabis business, not to say streamline their operations.

With so much regulatory pressure on them, more and more cannabis operators are shifting to a new way of dealing with Metrc which involves less legwork and more automation. Let’s dive into what you can and can’t accomplish with Metrc, and in what cases third-party cannabis software has to take the reins.

This is only so much Metrc can do for your inventory control

It would be wrong to suggest that Metrc is completely overlooking the inventory tracking needs of cannabis businesses due to its laser focus on the regulatory side. In fact, it handles the most essential basic inventory operations alright, namely:
  • Documenting incoming and outgoing inventory through ‘transfers’;
  • Reallocating packages between facilities through transfers;
  • Checking what packages are at which inventory facility. However, it won’t tell you the total quantity on hand;
  • Inputting package information by scanning its barcode label;
  • Splitting a package by creating new packages. It takes care of production (manufacturing) the same way - a new product is created by generating a new package. From the standpoint of user experience, splitting and manufacturing are taking too many steps to complete;
  • Manual adjustment of quantities while receiving, selling, or counting packages

Most of the data entry here is a huge bulk of manual work. It’s highly unlikely that micro-businesses that operate, for instance, as cultivators, manufacturers, and distributors will find what Metrc offers sufficient. When it comes to multi-location inventory tracking, stock intake, cycle counts, repackaging, vendor and customer management, sales orders, manufacturing or financial reporting Metrc is, unfortunately, pretty much powerless.

To stay compliant and operational these days, your cannabis company needs to:

  • Have 24/7 access to live inventory at each facility in real-time
  • Automate cycle counts to ensure that inventory levels are accurate
  • Know when to replenish and by what amount
  • Quickly repackage to fulfill incoming orders
  • Quality-control incoming and outgoing inventory through associated Purchase and Sales Orders
  • Invoice clients on the go and track payments
  • Track non-cannabis inventory
  • Automate and track manufacturing processes (for the holders of a manufacturer’s license)
  • Track finances by communicating directly with your accounting software

Metrc is not meant to and, therefore, it does not offer any quality control, transaction cross-referencing, automation, or insights whatsoever. To put it simply, you give data but you can’t use it to inform your business decisions, which means you are not in control.

A workaround to compliance and inventory management problems

Some cannabis companies are perfectly happy with a stopgap like finding a person who would handle compliance-related tasks by inputting all the required data into Metrc manually. Most job openings in this area state “we are looking for a detailed-oriented, self-motivated inventory control specialist/Metrc technician to audit inventory and identify discrepancies in Metrc, maintain inventory at optimal levels, verify manifests and packages, do physical inventory and cycle counts, document and enter all inventory into Metrc”.

The fact that speaks for itself is that according to most job descriptions candidates are expected to have strong knowledge of Microsoft Office, Outlook, Google Docs/Sheets, whilst experience with Metrc is naturally preferred. You can see hourly rates starting from $15-20. We at Greenventory have been surveying cannabis business owners about their use of technology for a while now. One of the striking findings so far was that some of them would shell out $80-90/hour to have the compliance data put into Metrc. It once again proves that a staggering number of cannabis operators still draw on manual inventory control.

The spreadsheets+Metrc approach keeps you afloat but it also knocks the wind out of your sails when it comes to growth, resulting in:

  • Increased labor costs
  • Overwhelmed staff
  • Errors
  • Operational inefficiencies
  • Occasionally insufficient or wrong Metrc reporting

The end solution - merging compliance, receiving, counting, repackaging, selling, manufacturing, and financial reporting

Third-party cannabis inventory apps like Greenventory by HandiFox go with an integrated approach to help cannabis operators not to fall from Metrc’s grace and press forward with confidence.

Greenventory follows Metrc, expanding its functionality through:

  • Multi-location tracking
  • Automated cycle counts and physical inventory
  • Purchase order management
  • Quick and easy repackaging
  • Replenishment triggers
  • Picking and Packing for order verification
  • Non-cannabis item tracking
  • Barcode label printing
  • Manufacturing order management and tracking
  • Customer and vendor management
  • Sales order generation
  • Invoicing
  • Two-way sync with QuickBooks Online

It is essential to understand that no cannabis app is an unmanned rocket you can launch and hope it takes care of itself. Some things will still require physical verification, but not nearly as much as you would have to do when trying to align all the data by hand.

Integrated compliance reporting, inventory management, and accounting, which are in tune, will get the wind back in your sails.