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How Omnichannel Benefits Ag Businesses

A 7-year-old whispers “can you hear me?” into a plastic cup vibrating the string tread through a small hole in the bottom sending the message to their friend on the other end of the line. Count yourself lucky if you remember growing up using contraptions like this to communicate with their friends. In today’s digital world kids simply pick up a cell phone and shoot their friends a text or sends them a snap. The advancement of technology continues to push the consumer to embrace technology to make their lives easier.

Less than 15 years ago, the average consumer typically used only two touch points when purchasing an item, and only 7% regularly used more than four. Today, consumers use an average of almost six touch points with nearly 50% regularly using more than four.1 This trend demonstrates the grower’s increasing expectations for ag retailers as accessibility to information and 24/7 access to service is becoming the new normal. However, this brings to light a new challenge for agriculture providers. Heavily outdated information and more often than not, incompatible systems, on the retailer side makes it hard to access information that producers need to find quickly and efficiently.

The majority of farmers use three distinct channels when researching2 buying and using agricultural products: the retail store, in-person reps, and online channels. While some may rely heavier on one channel than another, most tend to vary to some degree between brick-and-mortar, digital and in-person options.

45% of farmers prefer pure digital interactions for things like easy product comparison and initial research stages of the consumer decision journey,2 however, strong personal relationships with agricultural providers remains crucial as producers move throughout their decision-making process.

76% of farmers turn to dealers and reps during the initial-purchase stage and 78% prefer human over digital interactions when they have questions about a product’s usage and service.

Recent research shows2 that experiences offered by most agricultural providers have not kept up with this trend of offering omnichannel retail and digital experiences. The inability to access the right expertise at the right time and a limited mobile functionality continues to leave many farmers dissatisfied.

How can this help you?

Digital tools can strengthen customer relationships by connecting them to nearly instant answers in the way that works best for them. It is vital that these tools are fully integrated with systems that allow access to information and the ability to conduct business with the retailer 24/7.

It’s important to keep in mind that farmers don’t want an either-or approach when it comes to channel of support. Insights from a 2019 McKinsey Survey about growers’ digital preferences continue to be true: “when it comes to human interaction and digital channels, farmers don’t want either – or, they want both,” Simply put, growers expect an omnichannel experience from their ag retailer.

To determine the best approach for each retailer, take the time to consider resources available, expertise, the time to market and the overall fit within the long-term business plan. While there are many options available to implement a digital strategy, this isn’t a one-size-fits all for every retailer.

CropLife suggests3 four great tips to help as ag retailers LEAD their digital journey:

Learn about the options available, the experience they provide, and what will work for you and your customers.

Engage a diverse group — from agronomy to grain, from VP to admin — who represents the entire organization during the evaluation process.

Assess a digital strategy by how it helps you better deliver on your core value proposition.

Decide on a strategy and get in the game — the lessons learned today will fuel the iterations necessary to meet the evolving needs of your customer.

As you prepare to implement the omnichannel solution that works best for you, remember to ask yourself - “Why?” This is key to continuing down the path to success. Once implemented, the solution can unlock efficiencies for your organization that will help you grow alongside your producers.

Learn more about building relationships with customers through omnichannel communication and the difference between multichannel and omnichannel communication.

Sources:

  1. Omnichannel Stats you Don't Want to Miss, Knexus, https://www.knexusgroup.com/show/blog/Five-Omnichannel-Statistics-You-Need-to-Know/
  2. David Fiocco, Liz Harrison, Candace Lun Plotkin, Cultivating the Omnichannel Farmer, Mckinsey, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/our-insights/cultivating-the-omnichannel-farmer
  3. Alexander Reichert, A View from the Digital Crossroads: How Ag Retailers Can Lead in the Omnichannel Age, Croplife, https://www.croplife.com/management/a-view-from-the-digital-crossroads-how-ag-retailers-can-lead-in-the-omnichannel-age