• Adam Benko

6 Tips to Streamline Your Cannatech Vendor Evaluations

Conducting cannatech vendor evaluations for your cannabis business is essential. But it’s not without its challenges. And the more vendors you meet with, the more confusing it can be!

That’s why we’re outlining six tips you can implement to help streamline your vendor assessments so that the process is as seamless (and fruitful) as possible. And if you missed our previous article on the top eight red flags to avoid during evaluations, give it a read here.

Top 6 tips to improve cannatech vendor evaluations

At MJstack, we’re all about making your life easier. You shouldn’t have to spend time with frustrating, time-consuming and expensive cannatech vendor evaluations.

You also need to make sure that the solution works for your business needs and not the other way around.

That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of the top six tips you can implement to help simplify and streamline this process:

  1. Have your “ideal technology” checklist ready

  2. Don’t jump at a lower price tag

  3. Be wary of the upsell

  4. Secret shop the competition

  5. Include your frontline workers in product demos

  6. Know when to break up with someone

Now let’s break these down into even further detail.

Have your “ideal technology” checklist ready

If you take anything away from this article, it’s remembering that your business operates on your own time and your needs are the most important. Don’t let you or your colleagues get side-tracked during a cannatech vendor evaluation with talk of “new, shiny, bright” features if they aren’t what your business truly needs.

That’s why it’s a good idea to have your ideal technology checklist ready going into any meeting. This means listing out the tools and features that are going to deliver the most benefit to your operation.

For example, if you’re interested in out-the-door (OTD) pricing or how to create the best cash register flow for your customers, make sure you bring that up during a demo. If the vendor can’t answer your questions or can’t show you those “must-have” features then consider the fact that they may not be the right partner for you. Knowing where to draw the line in the sand is key.

Don’t jump at a lower price tag

We all want to be financially savvy with our businesses but choosing a service or provider simply because they have a lower price tag is usually never a good idea. It means you could be spending more in the future for add-on services or lose customers if the service doesn’t perform as intended or doesn’t solve the problems you need it to.

For instance, price cutting or “flash sale” discounts may sound appealing to your budding business, but the downside is that you may end up having to put in more time, money and effort for your operating costs. Always be on the lookout for caveats and compensations. If you went with a cheaper product but lost out on product support and maintenance, did you really come out ahead?

Remember that your business relies on these tools — your cannatech stack is at the heart of your cannabis business. Cutting costs upfront may sound appealing, but ask yourself what you will lose out on by picking the cheaper option and how that will impact your business as it grows.

Be wary of the upsell

When you’re talking to a cannatech vendor or going through a product demo make sure you are keeping the evaluation in the same lane. For example, if you’re there to talk about a payments solution don’t let the conversation get sidetracked by some new feature or functionality that’s not yet available or that is more costly than what your budget allows for.

Upselling is a natural part of the sales process and a sales representative is always going to want to throw every single solution they have at you in hopes you’ll end up buying more than you need or want. If you feel the conversation going astray, remember our first tip and look to your ideal checklist to bring things back on track.

Now that’s not to say you can’t entertain the idea of additional features or services, especially if they do align with your current business needs. Just stay alert and don’t lose sight of the original purpose.

Secret shop the competition

This is something we think all cannabis businesses could benefit from! A little friendly investigative work could really help sway your decision if you’re on the fence about choosing a particular cannatech service.

Of course the vendor is going to want to put their best foot forward. Nothing wrong with that. But that’s also why it’s very important that you seek out unbiased feedback and information to help inform your decision making.

And your network of fellow cannabis businesses can be a great place to start. For instance, say you are evaluating a new in-store menu provider, but you want direct feedback on how well it works out in the wild. It’s very likely that there are some dispensaries in your area who are already using this service. Be a consumer! Swing by the store to see it in action for yourself, and don’t hesitate to have a chat with store management to get their feedback on it. We find people are very apt to share their experience — good and bad — if you just ask!

Another reason to do your own research and talk to owners and operators who are already customers of the services and software you’re evaluating is because much of what’s available on the internet comes from biased sources or are paid listings. A lot of those pre-existing lists like “the top 5 cannabis CRM platforms” are actually paid placements. They can be a good place to start, but don’t rely solely on those lists. Get direct feedback.

Include frontline workers in cannatech product demos

This tip is so important and it can reduce a lot of pain points and headaches in the future. Oftentimes, during cannatech vendor evaluations, we’ll see only the decision makers on calls and participating in demos.

But if your frontline workers like budtenders or inventory managers are going to be the ones using the product every day, then it’s pertinent that they are included in this process. For instance, if you’re evaluating a new point-of-sale (POS) software, the store manager or COO may like the business reporting aspects of the software, but how intuitive is the POS interface? Will it actually reduce wait times, or make it easier on budtenders to complete transactions, add coupons or process returns?

This kind of miscommunication and lack of inclusion of key stakeholders early on in the process could mean faster employee turnover and negative consumer experiences.

Know when to break up with someone

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, know when to say no and move on. If after the evaluation process you decide the cannatech vendor is no longer a good fit for your business needs, tell them.

We are big believers in keeping lines of communication open — even to deliver less than ideal news. It’s better to rip the band aid off and let the salesperson know that your preferences or needs have changed, or that you went with another software or service that was more suited to your current business goals.

It may be a little bit uncomfortable, but it’s common courtesy and will likely prevent them from continuously following up and flooding your inbox with emails that are no longer of interest.

Need help narrowing down your cannatech vendor search?

We know that this process can be expensive, time-consuming and overwhelming. The cannabis industry is growing fast and there are always new and evolving tools to support your cannatech stack. It’s okay to ask for help. That’s what we’re here for. And our service is entirely free.

We’ll listen to your business needs and make personalized and immediate recommendations that could cut down your vendor search by half and provide clearer direction to your business. This saves you time, money and a lot of headaches.

Request a free consultation and MJstack will help pair you with the right cannatech vendors!

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