How to Find Cannabis Vendors for Your Dispensary

cannabis being held in blue safety medical gloves

The success of a business can often be correlated with their inventory. In order to find the right inventory, it is recommended that business owners and operators follow a set of tips to choose the right manufacturing supplier.

This is no different when it comes to finding a cannabis vendor for a dispensary. However, since cannabis dispensaries aren’t legal in every state, the best ways to find a supplier that meets the dispensary’s expectations may not be as well known.

Understand the Supply and Demand of Cannabis In Your State

The timeline for the legalization of cannabis began in Oregon in 1973. As of January 2020, legalization and decriminalization of cannabis has spread to all but four states in the U.S.— whether it’s for medical or recreational use. With the frequent change in cannabis laws, these numbers are likely to continue to fluctuate; meaning that each state will have its own laws regarding the number of growers and vendors allowed, the number of plants that are allowed for each grower, and more. It’s important to understand the cannabis laws in your state prior to finding a vendor, to ensure you meet legal standards.

Vet Your Vendors

To “vet someone” for a position means you are investigating their suitability for the job. When you evaluate a potential vendor, it typically involves asking them a series of questions and conducting brief research to verify they are capable of performing the tasks you are asking of them.

The following steps should be taken by dispensaries when they are vetting their vendors:

  • Ask for references and follow up on each one.
  • Conduct research on the company name. See what people are saying about them, read reviews, etc.
  • Interview each potential vendor before adding them to your list. Ask them questions, such as how they train their employees, what their customer service tactics are, etc.
  • Perform background screenings to reduce the risk of unethical, fraudulent, or criminal activity.
  • Verify legal requirements have been met, including licensure and insurance.
  • Discuss product barcodes.
  • Meet them face-to-face before you interview them. See how they treat you as a customer before they treat you as a business partner.

Evaluate the Strains That Are Selling

Just as with any product, it’s important to understand industry trends so you know what to order. A business shouldn’t order a product that doesn’t sell well just because they want it. This could be harmful to a business, potentially leading to dead stock — excess inventory that doesn’t sell.

Industry trends are always changing, however, these were the seven most popular cannabis strains in dispensaries in 2019:

  • Blue Dream
  • Girl Scout Cookies
  • Green Crack
  • Gorilla Glue #4
  • Jack Herer
  • Strawberry Cough
  • Skywalker OG

Choose Vendors That Are Transparent

Transparency within a company is important, no matter the niche. It shows that the company is open to its customers and the community. Seven effective ways in which a business shows transparency include:

  • Establishing core values
  • Not making selling your main goal
  • Being an open book
  • Responding to customers questions and queries in a timely manner
  • Staying open to others’ opinions
  • Making your social media pages a community
  • Including a suggestions/comment section for areas of improvement

Work With Third-Party Certified Vendors

Since cannabis is not USDA organics certified, it is recommended that dispensaries work with third-party certified vendors to help establish authority. Cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC is not eligible for USDA organic certification, due to the crop’s Schedule 1 status.

“For hemp produced in the United States, only industrial hemp, produced in accordance with the 2014 Farm Bill, as articulated in the Statement of Principles on Industrial Hemp issued on August 12, 2016, by USDA, may be certified as organic, if produced in accordance with the USDA organic regulations,” says Allison Malsbury in an article on Harris Bricken.

Examples of third parties that certify vendors are Certified Kind and Clean Green.

Measure the Margin

Sometimes vendors might upcharge their product in an attempt to make up for lost costs on their end. If this is the case, then it wouldn’t make sense for the dispensary owner to purchase from them. It’s important to be aware of how much purchasing the product wholesale is worth compared to how much they are charging.

There are multiple ways to measure the margin. It can be done by conducting a gap analysis to see where your dispensary is, where you want it to go, and what you need to do to get there, creating a cannabis dispensary business plan, and implementing a cannabis inventory management software solution into your daily routine. Following these tips can help to ensure that the data you are analyzing is accurate.

Customer Satisfaction

Mentioned above was the idea to research customer reviews to help you decide on a vendor. However, another great way to find a supplier is by researching reviews that past and present cannabis dispensaries have left on the supplier. Oftentimes, if an individual is leaving the company with an impressionable experience, whether it be positive or negative, they are more than likely to share it with their peers. This can be done by researching popular review sites, such as Google and Yelp, or even by interviewing other dispensaries.

Listening to the reviews can help you determine what suppliers are doing that either needs improvement or that they are doing well. Making a list of the pros and cons can be useful before you interview the vendor. If the vendor has a history of disappointing other dispensaries, they may not be the best choice for you.

Concentrates and Edibles

Another part of understanding the trends in the cannabis industry isn’t just knowing the popular strains, but being aware of the variety of ways to consume cannabis as well, e.g., concentrates and edibles.

  • Cannabis concentrates are “products that are made from the cannabis plant that have been processed to keep only the most desirable plant compounds (primarily the cannabinoids and terpenes) while removing excess plant material and other impurities.”
  • Edibles are made with cannabis leaves or higher potency extracts that are consumed in a way that is an alternative to smoking — typically in baked goods, candies, or beverages.

With so many options of both concentrates and edibles available, you will want to take the time to research the product to find the one that best suits your dispensary.

Even though the cannabis industry isn’t legal nationwide, it is still important to treat it as a professional business. By taking the steps to find the vendor that best fits your dispensary, it can help to ensure your customers feel the level of professionalism within your business and the amount of pride and dedication you put into it.

Get a Demo