Why People are Still the Biggest Assets in Your Digital Commerce Strategy

Ag retailers are uniquely positioned to add value for today’s grower. Each team member, from sales agronomists to office operations and beyond, plays an important role in the customer experience and the overall business. As we think about how your team can continue to enhance the customer experience, that’s where digital comes into play. When you provide digital tools, your sales agronomists can provide higher-value touchpoints with their current acres and cover more acres. They’ll spend less time managing paperwork and more time doing the valuable jobs they were hired to do. The value of “eCommerce-only” has a dim future in ag retail. Why is this? Markets shift commodity prices, weather changes planting and harvest dates, and disease and pests impact yields. Input and crop maintenance decisions are fluid and ever-changing. All of these factors mean growers are always going to need their trusted advisors when making business decisions. Your team’s local expertise on field conditions, pest pressure, and more become your competitive advantage. These factors make your human assets, whether in-person or digital, suddenly irreplaceable. Download the "Omnichannel Era in Ag Retail" white paper here. Combining digital and human makes omnichannel strategies realized. An omnichannel experience is realized when your customer receives a consistent level of service and value regardless of the channel they choose to do business; whether in person, over the phone, or digitally. In ag retail, enabling growers to access digital tools emphasizes the priority of meeting growers wherever and whenever they prefer to do business. When your customers have the service and relationships they value with the convenience of doing business the way they prefer, you have truly achieved an omnichannel experience. Touchpoints can look different day to day, or depending on the time of year. Some days, a grower may want to request a quote in your mobile app or review his agronomic plans in the portal. Other days, the same grower might make a quick phone call to his agronomist or drop by the office to chat over coffee. The touchpoint - or better yet, the service point - will look unique because of the many factors impacting how growers do business today. Having options for your customers is what makes the difference. And whether the grower is in the field, the farm office, or on vacation, your high level of service should remain. Benefit for retailers By implementing a digital tool, ag retailers uncover efficiencies as well. It’s undoubtedly a challenge to keep your sales team current with the constant flux of information, like changing price lists that are often on paper. Your team likely spends a chunk of time playing phone tag with customers to confirm products, pricing, and more before a sale. By using a digital portal, you’re able to instantly update crucial information like pricing and stock numbers, through back-office integrations. These updates keep your team and your customers all on the same page. For example, your sales agronomists can send digital offers directly to growers after an in-person meeting which reduces the number of phone calls back and forth and compliments your value-added service with a digital touchpoint. This feature allows transactions to happen much faster, so your customers can get exactly what they need most efficiently. With a Grower Portal powered by AgVend, these efficiencies result in a time-saving of 20-30% for your sales team. This means 20-30% more high-value service points with growers. “Our mission is to be the agronomy company of choice in the markets we serve, with respect to the communities and environments we do business in." "By giving customers a digital option, it gives them one more reason to be a Valley Ag customer,” says Connor Lankford of Valley Agronomics. Regardless of the specific retail sector, creating digital convenience scores points with customers. When combined with your team’s in-person interactions, an omnichannel experience is created that brings value in ways that a digital portal alone can’t. Tractor Supply Company is a prime example. They have been named a ‘Top Omnichannel Retailer’ by Total Retail, and they hit the human asset nail on the head. “Customers depend on our team members for information,” noted Letitia Webster, VP of Omnichannel for Tractor Supply Company. With their average store hosting only 270 customers a day, customer service is crucial. They hire employees with farming and ranch backgrounds specifically to assist their target demographics: farmers and ranchers. We see this within ag retail as well, as businesses often hire industry veterans to bring expertise and experience to the broader customer base. With most customers living 15-20 miles away from a store, Tractor Supply Company allows customers to digitally confirm product inventory so they know the right quantity of the right products will be available upon their arrival. This “buy online, pick up in-store” program makes up 60% of all their online orders. What’s even more impressive? Mobile makes up 70% of Tractor Supply's online traffic and more than 50% of all online orders. The benefit of human assets and digital tools comes full circle in these moments. When digital solutions become a sales enabler and human assets provide the trusted advice and service that your customers are looking for. An omnichannel strategy may look different for each business and no single implementation will work for all, but highlighting your human touch will boost your digital efforts to help better serve your growers. If you have further questions or want to chat through your process, we are always open to connecting. Send us a note here or give us a ring at (877) 575-3575. -- AgVend powers the omnichannel experience in agriculture. We provide ag retailers with white-labeled information, engagement, and commerce portals. Our suite of products is designed to strengthen the relationship between ag retailers and their grower customers. The AgVend team is comprised of individuals with backgrounds in agriculture, digital marketing, and omnichannel retail, and operates from dual locations in Minnesota and California.

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