It’s not uncommon for cannabis operators to rely on multiple technology solutions to power their business — but for operators that have developed in-house analytics and want to maintain a singular UI while still harnessing the power of Headset data, Headset Vault offers them an easy access point to pull data directly into their native systems. We sat down with Kiva Sales & Service to learn how they’re taking Headset data from the Vault and using it to streamline product distribution and elevate account management across their buyer network.
Distribution at scale
Kiva Sales & Service (KSS), which describes themselves as “more than just a distributor,” is a subsidiary of Kiva Confections, the number one selling edible brand in California, connecting an expansive portfolio of premium brands to more than 900 retailers throughout the state. Senior Director of Warehouse Logistics and Commercial Operations, Casey Rash, manages the backend of this massive ecosystem, from developing software to navigating relationships with supply chain partners. For Casey and his team at KSS, knowing how to manage this ecosystem was never an issue; they could more or less implement the same proven models used from Casey’s prior experience managing enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems in Bev-Alc. What had proven less straightforward, however, was knowing where to source the relevant tools to support this type of endeavor.
To efficiently distribute products at this scale requires a solution that helps distribution services like KSS get to a point of quasi workflow automation — in other words, a solution that helps distributors seamlessly fulfill orders and bypass the cumbersome back and forth communication traditionally required of buyers and suppliers. To accomplish this, KSS would first need to access real-time inventory depletion data from their retail partners’ point-of-sale (POS) systems to help them understand exactly when product needed to be restocked, where it needed to be sent, and how much to replenish. Easy, right? Well, not exactly — obtaining and collating real-time data from your retail partners isn’t so daunting until you remember that we operate in the cannabis industry.
Currently, the nascent industry still has too many point-of-sale systems to count on five (maybe six) hands, which creates a challenging landscape for services like KSS to access retail-direct data without expending significant technical resources, as grabbing data from each point-of-sale requires a separate software integration. To complicate point-of-sale variability, the industry lacks the infrastructure to enforce rigorous POS system data entry and product standardization — while “Blunt Boys” may sell the same product as “Dab Dudes”, both dispensaries may characterize the product in two different ways, e.g. “Blue Dream Pre-roll” vs. “Blue Dream Joint.” Even if distributors were able to successfully integrate with each of their retail partners’ POS systems, this lack of data standardization presents distributors like KSS with a nightmarish reality — transforming messy data into something clean and ultimately actionable.
Headset Vault, quick implementation
Enter Headset. As a data and analytics company, we’re kind of like the “Marie Kondo” of the cannabis data world — at our core, data transformation is what lays the foundation for each of our product solutions. Supporting nearly 30 POS systems and 3000+ retail locations, we’ve built our company by creating rigorous processes that transform and distill disparate data sources into something tidy, uniform, and actionable. And through our product, Headset Vault, we can expose that transformed data directly to clients that have the infrastructure to ingest it.
KSS, who already had a functioning ERP solution in place, was eager to implement this data into their workflow, specifically data sets surrounding inventory depletion. Headset Vault allows customers direct access into our powerful data warehouse platform hosted by cloud-based company, Snowflake. Snowflake works with a wide array of industry-leading tools and technologies, enabling access through an extensive network of connectors, drivers, programming languages, and utilities. Data is readily accessible from Python, Spark, Node.js, JDBC, ODBC, and hundreds of 3rd party tools. When asked about the implementation process, Casey notes that it was “laughably easy,” consisting of “one, one hour meeting, and one follow-up meeting.”
Out of the retailers part of KSS’s distribution network, 111 are active Headset clients. By tapping into the “Vault”, KSS was able to access clean, standardized inventory data from each of these stores, given the stores’ explicit permission. Though Headset Vault surfaces various metrics to users, KSS primarily ingested metrics like “quantity on hand” to help them build out detailed inventory-specific analyses for each of their retail accounts. Arguably the most important datum, however, is not a metric at all but a product attribute: “Metrc package ID.”
Though Headset data may be normalized, the language we use to describe a product will almost always differ from other companies like KSS. Let’s harken back to the previous example, “Blue Dream Joint'' vs. ``Blue Dream Pre-roll.” If Headset passes data to KSS that quantifies “Blue Dream Joint'' at 8 units in stock, but KSS calls that same exact product “Blue Dream Pre-roll,” the data becomes less useful; manual translations and tedious verification would likely be needed to ensure that both parties are referencing the same product. If distributors like KSS want to make Headset data actionable, product attributes need to match — and the best way to reconcile different naming conventions is to use “Metrc package ID” as the shared key linking the two.
Access to “Metrc package ID” was one of the biggest reasons why Casey and his team chose Headset over other solutions: “By having access to package ID and store license attributes, the translation work took less than 5 hours of development time for all products from 80 stores. With other solutions, the process could take days to translate products from just one store.” In addition to noting Headset’s “super clean data,” Casey also pointed to Headset’s retail access as a huge differentiator, enabling hourly inventory updates directly from the source as opposed to relying on web-scrapers or online menus, which typically operate on lengthier time delays.
Early outcomes, big savings
Despite implementing Vault only 3 months ago, KSS has seen demonstrable improvements in order accuracy and efficiency. By incorporating data into their existing ERP solution and exposing this new information to their sales team, KSS has drastically cut order fulfillment times. Casey says that Kiva’s sales team is saving up to 2 hours per customer, emphasizing that “some buyers are also getting 2 hours back, because it’s now just a meeting and simple phone call.” Averaged across their accounts, Casey estimates that his team saves about 80 hours per week. Take California’s average hourly pay of $29, and that could amount to a weekly savings of $2,320 in labor costs. As of last week, buyers and supplier sales reps who purchase from KSS’ e-commerce portal will also see Vault-sourced data like “daily average sales” and “estimated days remaining” directly in the portal when drafting orders, helping drive faster, more informed buying decisions from the get-go. Ultimately, Casey sees his job as helping retailers buy the right products at the right time — “my hope is to continue reducing the admin burden on our sales team. If they can just focus on sales and relationship building, it’s more beneficial for everyone.”
How to access the Vault?
To learn how you can supplement your in-house solutions and systems with data from Headset Vault, reach out to our team by filling out this form here.
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