Upstate Elevator is a groundbreaking business selling organic non-psychoactive cannabinoid (CBD) products to wellness stores and co-ops, and individuals looking for natural health solutions.
The US company is an outgrowth of Vermont’s Greenstate Gardener, which specialises in supplies for indoor hemp growing and houses the factory where the CBD products are manufactured.
The hemp used in the products is grown in Charlotte, Vermont, under a partnership with Earthkeep Farmcommon, and the products are distributed to stores via storage facilities and sales brokers around the country.
Upstate Elevator has grown quickly since its establishment four years ago and is looking ahead to further expansion as a law change will allow the sale of recreational cannabis from October 2022.
With this change on the horizon, supply chain director Nicholas Hageman says accurate stock forecasting is essential. The company signed up with StockTrim at the end of summer 2021 after experiencing some wild swings with over- and under-stocking.
“Covid meant lot of things started to run out and it was many months before we could replenish the stock,” Nicholas says. “When we run out of items it’s a problem because there’s a lot of competition for space with co-ops and wellness stores, and you might not get it back.”
Conversely, inaccurate forecasting sometimes resulted in over-purchasing, which tied up valuable capital.
“Our forecasting was off and we ended up with a lot of product that took a long time to get rid of. With some of our lines, such as gummy products and beverages, it’s a lot of money tied up in product sitting on pallets.”
The company uses inventory management system Cin7 and added StockTrim on Cin7’s recommendation. It was a simple plug-in and Nicholas worked with Neil from StockTrim to load Upstate Elevator’s data and set parameters such as lead times and minimum stock levels.
Some brief training was enough for Nicholas to learn how inputs affect the forecasting and how to allow for any exceptional one-off sales to ensure they don’t skew future forecasts.
Nicholas says StockTrim’s forecasts have been in line with the company’s purchasing needs and is providing more accurate dates for replenishing stock. “It’s done everything we’ve needed it to so far,” he says.
“I really like that it gives you real dates for forecasting and reordering, which takes a lot of the thought out of it. It’s allowed us to not order things prematurely, and we’ve been able to trim our stock quite significantly since we’ve started with StockTrim.”
The software is also saving Nicholas and many of the office staff considerable time, including hours spent transferring information from Cin7 onto numerous spreadsheets so that order volumes could be calculated.
“StockTrim has allowed me to spend more time helping out with production, as opposed to transcribing data. We’ve enjoyed it enough that we want to bring on our gardening store as well.”
Neil has just helped onboard all Greenstate Gardener’s SKUs so its stock forecasting can be managed with StockTrim as well. Upstate Elevator has about 250 SKUs for the CBD products and have now added about 1,000 more for the gardening products, ranging from large to very small.
“We’re getting to the point now where we can look at the information we get from StockTrim and decide whether to cut some items. The gardening store has a lot of stagnant items and will buy more seasonally.”
When it comes to value for money, Nicholas says StockTrim is well worth the monthly fee given the time it’s saved and the money it’s freed up for expansion as the recreational cannabis market opens up.
Between retail and manufacturing, the company has about 40 employees and will need a few more to manage the increase in products manufactured. The store’s hours will also increase, and additional staff may be needed to ensure compliance with new regulations.
Nicholas notes that while there’s still a lot of stigma and misinformation around cannabis and hemp, Upstate Elevator’s people have a good time making CBD lifestyle products and it’s an exciting time to be in the industry. StockTrim is an essential tool that will help them make the most of the changes that are coming.