Right Information at the Right Time: how connectivity can strengthen the relationship between ag retailers and farmers
According to a survey of more than 700 farmers, the most common frustration they have when dealing with retailers is the inability to get the right information at the right time.
The report, published by global research firm McKinsey in 2019, identified some of the biggest issues affecting the digital relationship between ag retailers and farmers.
The responses from surveyed farmers revealed the highest pain points during their transactions. 50% said pricing wasn’t available, 41% said they couldn’t easily compare products, and 36% couldn’t get the required product details. This does not have to be the norm. Smart data capabilities can help ensure real-time synchronization of data, including pricing and product details, so that ag retailers can ensure accurate purchasing information is available as a default to all farmers. This is a significant opportunity not only to drive higher sales, but also drive return business and promote greater trust.
The McKinsey report identifies three main channels that the majority of farmers use to research and purchase agricultural products: the retail store, in-person agronomists, and online. While different demographics tend to skew towards favoring one channel over another, most farmers tend to use all three for different purposes, choosing digital options for some requirements and in-person interaction for others.
The published data demonstrates that at certain points in the customer journey, human interactions are more in demand than at others. In fact, desire for human interaction consistently outperforms digital interaction at every stage, though the difference is small. This disparity widens at particular points: 67% of farmers rely on agronomists and dealers during the initial-purchase stage, and a substantial 78% prefer to ask a human about products and services rather than using a digital storefront.
We can draw multiple conclusions here. Firstly, there is and likely always will be advantages and trust provided by human interaction that digital experiences simply can’t replicate. However, one can also draw another interpretation: digital interactions between the ag retailer and farmer are often simply not good enough.
How then can we strengthen the digital relationship between the farmer and ag retailer? To modernize or call for an improved online solution is the right message, but vague. We should not overlook the “relationship” element in “digital relationship”. A strengthened digital relationship should not be about replacing agronomists but rather about enhancing the experience for both them and their farmers.
A robust data infrastructure – a connectivity network that makes information immediately accessible and applicable – will empower the agronomist or sales rep with the tools they need to support their farmers, giving them the right information at the right time.
Closing that information gap between the farmer and their ag retailer is a powerful tool, benefitting each actor in the supply chain. For farmers who find it frustrating that reps and agronomists don’t know their farm histories and can’t make fully informed decisions, access to the complete information 24/7 will be a welcome benefit. For ag retailers, they will offer enhanced service that will help drive sales and boost customer loyalty. Being able to get the right information at the right time is a key factor in strengthening the digital relationship between ag retailers and farmers, offering a win-win for both.