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The Ultimate Guide to Digital Transformation for Ag Retail

If you’re reading this you already understand the changing expectations of your customers and the potential impact this will have on your success as an agricultural retail input provider. This guide has been written with the assumption that you know why you need to lead your company through a digital transformation but you’re not sure what all it involves and the next steps you need to take.

We have compiled our experience and learnings in this guide to provide you with actionable steps and initiatives that are critical for the successful launch and sustainability of a digital strategy.

Resist the temptation to “cherry pick” which strategic components you want to implement over others. There are strong interdependencies throughout the comprehensive strategy.

You’re probably not too excited about resourcing and staffing a new digital organization within your business. Strongly consider partnering with a company that has the experience, existing solutions, resources and expert professional services that can launch you further on day-one and help you achieve your goals quicker. Focus your internal resources on leadership roles that have influence throughout the business and can collaborate with a technology provider to create the unique user experience you desire.

We’ve provided this guide because the success of our business has always been and continues to be closely tied to the success of agriculture retail input providers. We recognize how the grower’s expectations are changing and how this impacts our client’s business and we’re ready to help you transform your business to address these needs.

The Four Strategic Initiatives for a Successful Digital Transformation

Creating a compelling digital agronomic offering

A comprehensive agronomic profile of your customers is a vital component of your digital transformation strategy. Most likely, the data you need is scattered throughout your organization on multiple laptops, USB drives, spreadsheets, mobile apps and in the minds of your sales consultants. Commit to consolidating the processes, tools and platform your team uses to manage your customer’s field data and make agronomic recommendations.

Making it easy to do business with you

A comprehensive agronomic profile of your customers is a vital component of your digital transformation strategy. Most likely, the data you need is scattered throughout your organization on multiple laptops, USB drives, spreadsheets, mobile apps and in the minds of your sales consultants. Commit to consolidating the processes, tools and platform your team uses to manage your customer’s field data and make agronomic recommendations.

Empowering your business with digital intelligence

A comprehensive agronomic profile of your customers is a vital component of your digital transformation strategy. Most likely, the data you need is scattered throughout your organization on multiple laptops, USB drives, spreadsheets, mobile apps and in the minds of your sales consultants. Commit to consolidating the processes, tools and platform your team uses to manage your customer’s field data and make agronomic recommendations.

Digital insights equal selling opportunities

A comprehensive agronomic profile of your customers is a vital component of your digital transformation strategy. Most likely, the data you need is scattered throughout your organization on multiple laptops, USB drives, spreadsheets, mobile apps and in the minds of your sales consultants. Commit to consolidating the processes, tools and platform your team uses to manage your customer’s field data and make agronomic recommendations.

Creating a compelling digital agronomic offering

Mapping

Map all of your customer’s fields in your digital agronomy platform. This requires you to standardize on the structure of your customer’s organization. Synchronization with your ERP is critical in this process. Set stretch goals for your teams to map 100% of your customer’s fields. Having a record of the geographic location of your customer’s fields unlocks an unlimited set of capabilities to derive agronomic insights and business opportunities.

Field data

Launch a strong initiative to collect and manage all of your customer’s field level data with your digital agronomy platform. Partner with equipment companies such as John Deere, Raven or input suppliers to utilize their in-cab technologies to streamline planting, harvesting and application data capture with your system.

Focus

Get your team focused on using technology to make great agronomic recommendations and provide valuable farm data management solutions for their customers. Determine the most valuable capabilities you need, from a digital agronomy platform, to support your retail business and select one solution that best delivers those tools. Expand your use of digital tools to capture and manage information related to all the agronomic services you provide. Utilize an automated sampling workflow for at least soil, tissue and nematode that incorporates geotagging sample locations along with electronic transfer of results from technologically advanced labs. Incorporate access to satellite and aerial imagery to support in-season crop management services and utilize the digital agronomy mobile app to record and report all infield observations (i.e. scouting and trap monitoring data).

Automated Sampling Workflow

Sampling Locations

User manually sets point locations in the field or preemptively defines sampling locations.

Data collection

Samples are collected from predefined locations or on-the-fly.

Data analysis

Results are sent to the lab and analysis is performed based on the package selected for testing.

Automated Results

When analysis is complete results are automatically posted to your Agrian account.

DOCUMENTATION

Integrate your agronomic recommendations with retail operations systems by creating digital workflows that streamline the process of executing and completing application work-orders into planned activities and documented events.

Note:
Implement automatic label verification and reporting for all product recommendations on crops in geographies where regulatory requirements exist. Utilize streamlined electronic reporting to packers, shippers and processors as added value for your customer’s operations.

Making it easy to do business with you

Business Basics

Release a simple, intuitive, online portal that allows your customers to review their business account invoices, monthly statements and make electronic payments. Users should be able to easily view historical purchases and export data to their accounting systems. Include a notification feature when new documents are ready for review or other action is required. This portal is your customer’s primary entry point to your company’s digital experience.

VIP Accounts

Offer your largest, key strategic customers the ability to conduct business with you through a digital backdoor. Use APIs to allow them to integrate these capabilities directly in their own ERP system. If necessary, provide the technical professional services to help them implement this capability.

Omnichannel Commerce

Your digital customer portal should evolve into a contextual commerce experience with the ability for users to reorder products they’ve purchased in the past and order new products that match their search preferences or are relative to seasonal agronomic insights. Start off by offering packaged chemicals and work your way to seed, bulk fertilizer, and custom services . The complete experience should include order status with notifications.

A platform where communicating field-level data to your growers is of the utmost importance as you navigate through their growing journey.

9/10 times

New orders are based on the previous year’s product orders.

Empowering your business with digital intelligence

Planning

Complete an agronomic business plan with each of your customers that includes the crops they plan to grow, inputs, farm revenue and expenses for each unit of their operation. Provide the ability for your customers to use this with their lenders and insurers and with the opportunity to convert this plan to bookings, pre-pay orders or in-season orders at any time. The planning experience should be initiated by your Crop Advisors and accessible to your customers in the digital portal.

Ordering

Provide a similar customer account overview for your salespeople, in their mobile sales app as in the customer portal and allow your salespeople to order products on behalf of their customers as needed. Integrate digital product ordering into all components of the digital experience for your employees with the ability to execute crop plans, label validated recommendations, fertilizer blends and scouting observations into product orders or application work orders.

Sales Insights

Release a mobile app that allows your sales team and managers to instantly view updated, individual and aggregate customer sales information. This should include historical sales, current and year-over-year comparisons. Highlight which product shelves (chemical, fertilizer, seed, etc) customers purchase from and the salespersons aggregate totals in each shelf. Provide individual benchmarking, campaign and goal management capabilities.

Digital insights equal selling opportunities

360º customer view

Apply the agronomic and business transactional data you have to create a comprehensive digital fingerprint for each of your customers. Be able to predict the crops they will grow, the risks they will likely encounter, and the inputs they will need. Understand their propensity to purchase branded, proprietary, or generic products and how you can maximize your share of wallet and profitability with each. Exercise this capability throughout your organization to market more effectively, plan and forecast sales more accurately, and procure products more efficiently.

Opportunities

Promote selling opportunities for your salespeople throughout the digital experience as you begin to construct a digital agronomic and business profile of your customers. Utilize aggregated field data and observations along with pest, disease and nutrient modeling to fuel timely notifications for preventive or corrective decisions. Monitor current customer purchases for upcoming selling opportunities based on historical behavior and crop plan specifics.

Knowledge

Employ an expert team of innovative, professional data scientists to help design your data analytics environment, procure the right data and organize it for knowledge creation. This team should collaborate closely with business and agronomic experts to guide their analysis and direct them to areas of interest and opportunity.

Commerce in Context

Expose timely and actionable insights using predictive analytics and prescriptive recommendations throughout the digital experience in the form of product purchase opportunities that help customers maximize their returns and multiply your sales touchpoints.

The Customer Journey

Provide digital capabilities throughout the customer journey to unlock commerce opportunities

Planning

Growers and Crop Consultants collaborate on critical decisions for the upcoming season.

Pre-Season

Crop nutrients need to be applied at optimal rates throughout the field according to yield potential.

Planting

Deciding when to plant and matching the right population to the soil’s potential have a significant impact on final crop yields.

In-Season

Action required alerts combined with a product recommendation streamline the decision making process to purchase and take corrective action.

Next Steps

As you consider your digital transformation, you need to determine if will you take on the responsibility of building software in-house, outsource the development of specific features or use an all in one Ag software platform.

The ag tech landscape is full of options, and some people prefer to manually piece together the specific digital tools they determine are most needed. Others assume that they will save money by integrating different feature sets or a collection of low-cost-tools, even if that means their data will not be connected all in one place.

These are all decisions you’ll need to make when considering a digital transformation.

At Agrian, we’ve always understood our role as software providers–we live and breathe Ag software. Our focus has been, and always will be on providing our users exactly the right software platform to connect their workflows and keep their focus on interacting with their customers and providing agronomic expertise. When people are empowered to do what they do best, we are all in the very best position to succeed.

Interested in talking with someone about how Agrian might work for you?

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