Connectivity brings expert knowledge to the digital farmer-ag retailer relationship
Expert knowledge is key for the digital relationship between ag retailers and their customers. Agronomists are not only expected to possess in-depth industry and product knowledge, but to always have a firm understanding of the unique situation at their customers’ farms.
How can this be achieved? A 2019 report by global research firm McKinsey offers some insight into the issues at present and, via data connectivity, what opportunities are available for business growth.
The McKinsey data finds that farmers are nine times more likely to trust in-person interactions with their agronomists over their own independent research. However, one of the most commonly cited pain points is lack of knowledge – essentially meaning that, through no fault of their own, ag retailers and their agronomists are limited in the service value they can offer. Due to the nature of disparate systems’ inability to naturally work with each other, agronomists are unable to access the specifics of an individual farmer’s business, even though that information, in theory, should be readily available for them. Information like purchase history and ongoing conditions in a particular region are relatively easy to access within their own digital infrastructures, but software limitations mean ag retailers, their agronomists, and farmers are not forming as strong and seamless sales relationship as they should.
Why then does this happen? Every party in this interaction would benefit from this functionality, yet dealing with questions that are, on the face of it, relatively simple can be a time-consuming and frustrating process that can undermine an ag retailer’s otherwise excellent relationship with their farmers. The answer is due to a lack of connectivity, a problem which, if fixed, can greatly strengthen the digital relationship between farmer and ag retailer.
This doesn’t just extend to the daily operations of particular farmers, but for newer products and services that might be of use. The McKinsey report shows that most of the latest innovations and breakthroughs are discovered at trade shows or via independent research rather than through their sales channels. Greater connectivity would better place agronomists to offer that knowledge, an excellent opportunity to cultivate the farmer-ag retailer relationship. Farmers would prefer access to agronomists who have all the relevant information at their fingertips, who can deliver expert guidance without the need for farmers to embark upon independent research. Ag retailers, for their part, are limited by the restrictions of their software, with complete replacement of those systems being expensive and unrealistic. Advanced data connectivity can remove those barriers, unlocking the possibility for stronger customer relationships, backed by a real-time and intuitive digital support.
With greater access to informed agronomists and sales reps – who themselves are backed by reliable and useful information – farmers would find their trust rewarded and their customer experience enriched, ultimately resulting in a productive and lucrative exchange for both parties.
Consider the benefits an independent data connectivity solution can deliver here. In terms of delivering informed and expert opinion to the farmer-ag retailer relationship, there are two clear advantages:
1. More time for stronger relationships
2. More informed and actionable advice
For the first, this would mean less wasted time going back and forth, with the rep or agronomist needing to check over details or source information. Instead, that time could be used in a much more advantageous way: strengthening the customer relationship, offering greater guidance and delivering actionable advice.
Smarter use of farmer’s data will deliver informed and actionable advice that is more specific and relevant to their unique situation. In the short-term, this makes the relationship much more fruitful and stress-free. In the long-term, this benefits the ag retailer, who’ll be able to identify specific products that meet the farmer’s needs while also meeting ag retailer requirements. For example, if product A and product B are both applicable to the farmer’s situation, but product A would be more beneficial for the ag retailer (in terms of meeting quotas or managing rebates for instance) then the rep can be aware of this and promote that product. Every party in the transaction wins, while smoothing the stock management process and eliminating unnecessary delays.
Greater data connectivity in the supply chain doesn’t just make expert and informed knowledge easier, it makes it the default. For the digital relationship between ag retailer and farmer, this is a win-win, delivering tangible results while removing the most common pain points that currently exist in that relationship.