At Greenline, we have always prided ourselves on speed and flexibility. Cannabis retailers have had a difficult time in the past year and this has only gotten more difficult with the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is why during this time Greenline has moved forward quickly to provide our customers with online sales support and click-and-collect. Our customers have told us that Greenline’s online ordering solution is faster and better implemented than any of our competitors, giving them an upper hand in the retail space.
Greenline has a large offering of unique integration partners that can service remote sales for our customers, including:
One example of this in action is how Greenline POS supports Friendly Stranger in Toronto by helping them implement click-and-collect faster than their competition, giving them a unique advantage in being one of the first to hit the ground running with this service in Ontario.
At Greenline, we understand that running a high volume cannabis retail store is not easy. Reducing the cost for routine inventory operations can have massive impacts on your productivity and success.
We’re proud to introduce: Greenline Pocket
The idea started when we observed back-end inventory management among our customers. As powerful as our Dashboard and POS is, managers were having to wrestle with the physical layouts of the store. Often times, paper clipboards would have to be used to track inventory, then inputted into Greenline after the fact.
We wanted to eliminate that need. You shouldn’t need to run back and forth to a computer all the time. You should have the power of inventory management in your fingertips.
Greenline Pocket is an iOS application combined with a powerful 2D barcode scanner to provide stores with key inventory management functions:
Welcome to the speed revolution.
Greenline Pocket is currently in limited beta. Availability will increase throughout Q1 2020. If you feel Pocket will benefit your retail operations, please schedule a demo and get in touch with our sales team.
As 2019 comes to an end, I wanted to show my sincere appreciation to all of our customers.
When we started back in 2018, we were a small technology business servicing 20 stores. Our focus was making sure that we serviced stores the best we could during those tumultuous times. Business owners experience a lot of anxiety – loans, rent, staffing, unexpected surprises, competition, self-doubt, business partners – and the uncertainty of the cannabis industry certainly did not help. As someone who experiences anxiety as well, I truly saw it as my job to put in my all to make sure retailers did not experience more than they needed to.
We’ve grown to service 100+ stores by the end of 2019, but the way we think has not changed.
Our job being far from over, with so many exciting features and new offerings scheduled for 2020. Our promise to our customers has always been that we will grow with you through thick and thin, through any challenge the industry may throw at us.
Hello, I’m Sam, I’ve been part of the Greenline team from the start and formally became CTO around mid-2019. I and the entire team have learned so much over the past 2 years which is rarely discussed. We have always been an honest and transparent company, which will not change.
In the spirit of transparency and honesty, I wanted to share the story of a recent failure, some of the lessons we took from it and the improvements we’ve made. We will continue to improve in the pursuit of building the best cannabis point of sale and inventory management possible.
On Friday, October 25th we had a system failure. It was an almost 3 hour period where our system was unable to process requests efficiently.
We were alerted by the issue at around 4:40 pm Friday and instantly began investigating the scale of the problem and what was causing it. Our worst fears were confirmed when we were unable to make sales. We checked our errors and what they were telling us, the blockage was our heaviest table, Inventory Logs. Every inventory movement in Greenline is tracked to the millisecond, answering the biggest questions retailers have: who, what, when and where. We diagnosed within minutes that the table itself had run out of available numbers based on the Id type. Something that it took 2 years, processing millions of dollars in sales for us to hit.
A rock and a hard place
Option A: migrate that table to allow more logs which would take an unknown amount of time Option B: Create a new table with the changes we wanted to make and alleviate the Friday rush hour for our customers and merge the data later
We went for option B due to not knowing how long the migration would take to fix and we wanted our customers to get back to making sales as soon as possible. We created the new table which went from a capacity of ~8.3 Million entries to ~2.4 Billion, renamed the old one and swapped them out knowing we’d merge the data later on. We got this fix in within about 20 minutes of the initial issues.
Until… new problem. We were able to make some payments and then, crawling, hanging payments. We saw logs were working, however, our service was slowing down. Once we got back online, all of the offline payments that had built up during the outage came in en mass as well as the live sales.
Was this a server load problem? We went from running 4 instances of our service to 16 to help cope with any server speed, things were still slow. The Database was running at almost 100% CPU. Scaling the Database power isn’t as simple as scaling the servers and worse requires more downtime. It seemed the DB was getting stuck with some old connections, we restarted the DB (takes about 20 seconds, then starts slow and warms up).
Ahh payments could go through again!
Until after around 7 minutes, they started slowing down again. What was causing this? The database was back to 100% CPU (normally we run around 15%). We restarted the database, eventually, we’d be able to get through this backlog of payments. We kept investigating with half the team monitoring the service whilst others tried to figure out what was going on with the payments table.
We knew where, and then we found what. Something we were about to work on the coming Monday. How we inserted payments into the database was slightly unoptimized which on day to day use hadn’t caused any real problems but was on our performance target list. As much as we push the envelope of features our system can do, we also keep an eye on all of our current metrics and are in an endless pursuit of increasing the performance of every element in our system.
What was normally a simple inefficiency was now being problematic by the sheer volume of payments coming in at the exact same time. We knew the plan to fix it and quickly put together an implementation, tested it and got it out.
We tested and payments were able to go through. Not only did they go through, but they also went through incredibly fast. Our payments were around 500% faster than before!
The DB processed all of the remaining payments and was running at a lower CPU than usual! The service returned to normal whilst we kept a close eye on the service and began figuring out the repair steps and possible outcomes from the outage.
Over the weekend we merged our inventory logs back and worked on restoring any missing lines that had occurred during the outage.
We now have a much greater insight into our system and have put our findings to great use to ensure these never happen again.
The easier you can look into your application and all of its many many pieces, the quicker you’ll be able to diagnose issues and recover from them. We already had some but we wanted more depth and more breadth of the system. This is an endless pursuit of ours, finding the best tools, gaining the strongest knowledge to help us provide the best possible service for our customers.
We had implemented offline payments over a year ago and it had served our customers incredibly well through many issues including internet outages, power outages (serving by candlelight, though romantic, isn’t ideal) and even minor downtime we’ve had including maintenance windows.
We hadn’t seen it run through a not fully offline but also the not fully online mode and the user behavior along with that. People had closed out of the app (probably due to a slow sale) and then were unable to get back into making sales.
We’ve addressed these and continue to make improvements that will benefit our customers not just in those troublesome times, but all other times also.
There’s nothing quite like a fire, a challenge that requires more than one person. Seeing our team come together and support each other in the most testing time reveals the kind of team we’ve been building at Greenline over the past 2 years. We’re really proud of the culture and the people we work with every day to make the best experience for our customers.
I am a firm believer in we grow through discomfort and nothing is more uncomfortable than your system failing and your customers being left in difficult positions.
We don’t intend to only learn from these cases as we’re all always trying to grow, but we also take huge value away from an event like this.
In a fast-paced, ever-changing retail environment, it’s important your POS system understands your store’s workflows to save you time. In this article, we’ll go over 5 ways Greenline POS can save your staff hours every week in operational costs.
Automatic provincial product imports
Within a product’s lifecycle in a store, the process of product management is one of the most time consuming for management teams. Every time there is a new product available from your provincial wholesaler, someone from management needs to spend time pulling all the product details together, determining how they should be arranged for reporting purposes, and filling in SKUs, names, descriptions, images, compliance weights, etc. This can be time draining especially in provinces like Alberta, where recently there is a massive expansion in the number of new products made available to retailers.
With Greenline POS however, the amount of time taken to add a product can be reduced from 5-10 minutes down to a matter of seconds using our provincial product import feature. On a weekly basis, we update our internal catalog of products from BC, AB, and ON to make them available for our users. When you want to import Agent Orange pre-rolls, you simply need to select “Import from AGCO” (or your respective wholesaler), enter the name of your product, then press enter.
The following information will be automatically filled in for you:
Image (if available)
Vendor (will create a vendor if not available)
Cannabis compliance weights
With Greenline POS, your team can spend almost 80% less time entering cannabis product details into your system, allowing you to focus more on inventory management and store operations.
One-click compliance reports
All provinces across Canada are required to generate monthly compliance reports on the first week of every month. For provinces like Ontario, the process is particularly painful due to the need to capture inventory snapshots for every compliant product for each day in addition to detailed sales data in very specific formats.
Without a system to automate the process, generating the report manually can take anywhere from 3 to 12 hours a month, depending on your province and the number of staff you have.
Thankfully, this is a problem that Greenline POS has been helping stores with since legalization on October 17th. We’ll automate the entire compliance report generation and correction process for you. Here’s how it works:
Go to Greenline’s compliance report generation feature page.
You will see a list of all inventory logs that may require attention. Here, you can set your inventory discrepancy reasons to ones approved by Health Canada.
Preview your compliance report details, which includes a per-product and per-category breakdown
Click “generate report”, and send to your provincial regulator.
Greenline was built by Canadians for Canadians, ensuring top-notch support as it relates to your store’s reports and guaranteed updates as the regulations from Health Canada evolve.
Fast inventory audits
In our experience, the best stores count their cannabis inventory every single day. It can be an incredibly time consuming process to get your staff to go around your front and back of store with a paper clipboard and counting every unit of product.
As a manager, it’s important that you have the following pieces of information:
When is the last time someone at my store counted our inventory?
Who did the audit?
How many discrepancies were there?
What is the dollar value of those discrepancies?
Do we need to investigate further?
Using Greenline’s inventory audit feature, managers can see everything that’s going on with their inventory counts, the employee responsible, the time it was moved, and more! With Greenline POS, store operators have the ability to see every action taken in their store, even when they’re not physically there.
If you’re interested in saving your store time with a Canadian cannabis retail POS built specifically for your needs, get in touch! Your team can chat with our experienced team at https://getgreenline.co/schedule-a-demo
Managing cannabis products can seem straightforward at first, but things change when you receive your first shipment of legal cannabis in their respective packaging. The packages will look something like the above.
The barcode on the left is what’s called a GS1 stacked databar, or a lot-tracked barcode. The lot-tracked barcode is a superset of a regular UPC barcode combined with other information, namely the lot number and the expiry number. The following image explains how the individual components can be broken down.
At Greenline, we propose the following steps to best prepare your store for stocking cannabis products.
1. Ensure that your POS system can integrate with 2D barcode scanners
Lot-tracked barcodes are often too long to fit in a single horizontal label, so they are often stacked 2, 3, or even 4 times on top of each other. As a result, regular 1D barcode scanners that are used for most industry-agnostic POS systems do not cut it. 2D barcodes scanners are able to read these barcode formats, but are often $100 to $200 more expensive than their 1D counterparts.
2. Ensure that your POS system can convert lot-tracked cannabis barcodes into their individual components
Some products only come with lot-tracked barcodes on the packaging, meaning that if your store has an initiative to scan as many products as possible, you cannot rely simply on the UPCs being available for you to scan.
It’s important for your cannabis POS system to be able to scan a full 2D lot-tracked barcode and break out the UPC to compare to your product catalog. Because lot numbers are often different for every shipment you receive from your provincial distributor or LP, it’s important to identify products by UPC and not by lot.
3. In the province of Alberta, it is important to track all incoming and outgoing lot numbers
Alberta cannabis retail regulations state that stores have to thoroughly track all lot numbers in their POS system of choice. In fact, some AGLC inspectors have been denying retail applications for not having a system to track them properly.
Lot tracking can add significant complexity to your store’s inventory management, so we at Greenline have optimized our system to make this process as easy as possible for stores just starting out. Don’t get caught off guard when your inspector asks whether you can track lot numbers down to individual sales receipts!
With Ontario finally licensing cannabis stores, we noticed that some Ontario retailers were left in the dark, unprepared for the new AGCO reports due every month. The opening month is often a growing pain, and given the all the other responsibilities and regulations to meet, Ontario retailers benefit from understanding their compliance reports and selecting a POS system that works to simplify reporting.
“Prior to opening, AGCO will conduct a number of compliance activities to ensure licence conditions and regulatory requirements are met – such as product display, security, and advertising and promotion restrictions. Once a store opens, there will be ongoing store inspections, including mystery shopping to ensure that age/ID requirements are being met.” – statement from an AGCO spokesperson
What reports are required?
Ontario retailers are required to submit 3 different reports: A monthly sales report, a monthly Federal report, and periodic reports for non-standard inventory movements.
The monthly sales report tracks every sale in and out, as well as the monetary value of each product moved and markdown. The Federal report for Health Canada focuses on tracking of sales inventory levels on opening and closing and how they came to be. And lastly, the periodic report is used when discrepancies, waste destruction, theft, or transfers between locations occur – they don’t have a standard timeframe for periodic reports, but operate on a case by case basis.
The two monthly AGCO and Federal compliance reports require accuracy and details that may catch retailers unprepared – and not every manager can afford to spend a full week preparing their report and potentially jeopardizing their licences. Understandably, POS systems don’t always make it easy to prepare your compliance reports. Even dedicated cannabis POS software might struggle to update their software in time.
When looking for your POS selection, pay attention to the key point of compliance report generation – do they provide a section on their reporting dashboard to generate a spreadsheet file to the exact specifications of the province, or do they simply allow for stores to put the information together themselves?
We’re proud to say that Greenline POS only services Canadian cannabis retailers, and will focus exclusively on Canadian compliance reporting. We’re always up to date on any provincial changes to give you all the information you need with a click of a button. With our help, retailers never have to worry about preparing for compliance reports.
Through Greenline POS, users only need to select their province, select the month/year they want their report in, and with a click, our software generates the Monthly sales report or the Federal report, as needed. No matter which one retailers need generated, Greenline’s inventory management system tracks what you need, satisfying the needs of both provincial and federal regulators.
“We have been so happy with the service from Greenline POS. Our first compliance report was always going to be a tricky one considering the requirements differ greatly from other Provinces. Greenline POS helped us throughout the entire process of producing our first Compliance Reports and it was a breeze.” – Kevin Trethowan, Owner of The Niagara Herbalist
The Niagara Herbalist was one of the first three approved locations in Ontario, and we’re proud to offer excellent service to them, and other Ontario retailers. Learn more about Niagara Herbalist here.
Greenline POS system does more than just compliance reporting to make your life easier. Click here to learn more about Greenline’s POS features.
In the past 7 months, Greenline has seen both proactive and reactive inventory audits in action with live cannabis retailers, and it pays to be proactive with inventory accuracy.
To better understand the difference, here is what that means:
(Reactive) An issue or discrepancy is found which prompts an inventory audit
(Proactive) Scheduled stock audits that identify discrepancies before they impact reporting or front of store operations
On average stores that schedule and perform inventory audits more often have dramatically reduced inventory discrepancies. Cannabis retailers that do inventory audits daily have the smoothest operations and the most accurate compliance reports at the end of the month.
There is a fine balance between the amount of time it takes to do audits and the level of inventory accuracy. Some smaller stores simply do not have the manpower to do check every day and instead opt for auditing every second day or on a weekly basis.
We recommend weekly audits at a minimum so that stores can catch input errors or inventory losses closer to when they happen. This is so that store operators can more easily identify any discrepancies while the day’s activities are still fresh in memory. It’s very difficult to figure out why you are missing a unit of a particular product if the discrepancy happened weeks ago. Taking detailed notes on your POS per inventory movement is also a great help in identifying issues.
Contact Greenline today to find out how a Greenline POS system can help you and your employees complete inventory reports and avoid audits happening every other day. Click here to learn more about Greenline’s POS features.
New independent cannabis retailers frequently go through a variety of concerns and focus on the wrong things before they begin live operations. In our experience working with 30% of the licensed retailers in Canada, these are the top 7 misconceptions that retailers encounter.
1. Planning for customer labels per sale at recreational stores. This misconception stems from the old medical cannabis industry where prescription forms are provided via stickers for each sale. In the recreational market, there is no need to supply stickers or labels that are customized per customer, per sale. Focusing on this wastes time and money through the purchase of unnecessary hardware.
2. Investing in government ID scanning hardware and software. In Canada, you are not obligated to collect client info in detail as per the old medical cannabis system. Many clients are unwilling to give any customer details, and you can expect over 85% of your clients to refuse ID info collection requests. Don’t be tricked by consultants and companies that stress the collection of private details to sell you on software and hardware you do not need. Collecting this info will only increase data liabilities without tangable business value.
3. Saving money with cheaper, generic POS systems not designed for cannabis retail. Using a $100 non-cannabis POS system compared to a $500 cannabis POS system looks nice on paper, unless you factor in the cost of work hours as a result of not having compliance features. Utilizing a system that can generate compliance reports and keep an active ledger of all inventory movements will save you days of work in manual entry and employee salaries.
4. Planning for transfers between locations. Under the current regulations, provincially licensed cannabis retailers need to purchase items from the provincial distributor directly to the store location it will be sold at. Products are not allowed to move between locations or from a central distribution area. The only exception being Saskatchewan, which doesn’t have a provincial distributor. In Saskatchewan, you can apply for a distributor license to setup a central warehouse to ship in/out of.
5. Buying an American POS system for batch tracking. Health Canada doesn’t require or support the infrastructure for batch tracking. In fact, there is no coordinated barcoding standard for licensed producers in Canada. Some producers use double or triple stacked barcodes that may batch track, while many others just operate with GS1 barcodes. Implementing a batch tracking POS in Canadian recreational stores will only create more operational roadblocks.
6. Planning for full customer profile databases. Many stores are planning for extensive client profiles and databases for use in customer analysis and mass marketing. However, the current industry climate makes it difficult to collect in-depth info. The vast majority of customers are unwilling to give any details. At most, they will provide emails just for electronic receipts. Don’t use too much time and money planning for client databases, as it provides little value beyond emails.
7. Expecting accessory sales to be a significant portion of your revenue. A trend we observe among prospective cannabis retailers is an excessive focus on accessories or having a dedicated accessories division in their business. This is not the best use of time, as accessory sales on average fall more along the lines of 5% of total revenue, not the 50% that new stores are hoping for. Expectations for accessory sales need to be curbed for more realistic projections of store profits.
The Niagara Herbalist is the first licenced cannabis retailer in Ontario, and after careful consideration they have chosen Greenline POS as their compliant inventory management solution.
“We chose Greenline POS because their team had the most working knowledge about real life cannabis retail operations out of all the POS systems we looked at.”
– Kevin (co-owner of The Niagara Herbalist)
For new cannabis retailers, opening up shop can be an exciting but stressful time. Greenline POS is dedicated to helping stores every step along the way, from initial inspections all the way to the grand opening and beyond.
The Niagara Herbalist is building a business with focus on customer education and normalizing cannabis in society. For Kevin’s team, the top priorities are educating the public and being actively involved in the community. They aim to lead the Ontario cannabis retail market by setting an example for all future retailers on how simple, customer-friendly, and compliant business operations can be with the right solution in place.
“As a family owned and operated company, complying with the AGCO is of paramount importance. Greenline POS has a one click compliance feature which ensures peace of mind.”
– Kevin (co-owner of The Niagara Herbalist)
Compliance is the key ingredient to any cannabis retail POS, and it is one of the highest priorities at Greenline. The Greenline team is fully prepared to work closely with retailers like The Niagara Herbalist, the AGCO, and the OCS to provide automated compliance reporting in the exact format and specification that the Ontario government requires.
Greenline POS has established an exemplary track record in streamlining compliance reporting for provincial systems in British Columbia (BC LDB), Alberta (AGLC), and Saskatchewan (SLGA). We are looking to uphold our reputation for easy, accurate compliance reports in Ontario once they release the exact specifications for monthly compliance.
The Niagara Herbalist is running their business on our recommended hardware, the Elo PayPoint® Plus for iPad all-in-one mPOS device. PayPoint brings simplicity and elegance to the point of sale with a sleek, modern style. With peripherals built in, this platform is retail hardened and built to last with a three-year warranty.