GreenPoint AG, a Memphis-based agricultural input supplier serving farms and rural businesses throughout the South has been developing its e-business platform for more than two years. Named Greenpoint AG Online, the platform is set to be up and running by the end of second quarter 2020 with the help of WinField United and its omnichannel strategy.
GreenPoint AG is just one of the retailers aligned with WinField United’s omnichannel strategy. This comprehensive and research-based strategic platform provides retail-owners the e-business tools to make it easier and faster for their growers to do business with them.
Today, 11% of all U.S. corn and soybean acres utilize WinField United’s tech platform. In addition, 68% of the system’s seed footprint is engaged in paid ag tech. "The reason we’re interested in the development and implementation of an e-business platform is that we want to meet our customers where they want to be met,” says Kent McPherson, director of operations for GreenPoint AG. “If there is a new channel to do that, then we want to have a hand in developing it as it will significantly impact our customers’ businesses. The talented group of developers at WinField United afforded us the opportunity to help design the platform and we jumped at the chance to be involved.”
McPherson says the goal of GreenPoint AG Online is to offer a one-stop e-business destination for both customers and field service personnel. Feedback from customers has helped round the platform into shape, including coveted features such as mobile-friendliness and customization.
GreenPoint AG provides crop nutrients, crop protection products, seed, seed treatment, field scouting, custom application and ag technology services to its growers and rural business owners. It has retail locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, southwest Missouri, southwest Tennessee and the coastal bend of Texas. “It’s a complete process. When a grower submits an order, it goes into our ERP (enterprise resource planning) system,” says Ben Carlisle, GreenPoint’s AG technology manager. “There’s no re-keying an order into the ERP.” He admits the work to make GreenPoint AG Online a reality has been complex yet rewarding. “However, our customers will never see any evidence of that,” he adds. “They will see a good clean interface, a positive interaction with the digital platform and that is all that matters.”
Once GreenPoint AG Online is operational, Carlisle expects the platform to evolve along with technology and customer needs. Digital agriculture is a new frontier of sorts, where the parameters and needs of growers are ever-changing and not always clear. “To see where we are today and where we can be in the next 5 to 10 years should excite everyone in the industry,” he says. It’s all about making it easier for growers to do business in an industry dictated by changing weather patterns and many other variables impacting key decisions. Carlisle says trying to anticipate those variables and incorporating that into a digital sense is a challenge. For instance, he was at a meeting where they were talking of creating a customized bundle for growers so he or she could easily place an order whenever necessary.
“We use a different set of products early in the season versus later in the season, and another set of products if it’s early season and wet versus early season and dry and/or late season and wet vs late season and dry,” he says. “How do we capture that? It’s a complex puzzle that we need to help our customers piece together.”
The industry has seen continual evolution with how growers place orders. Growing up, Carlisle remembers going with his father to the local co-op. “We would walk inside, place an order and back up our truck to the loading dock,” he recalls. That eventually gave way to a salesman stopping by the farm to ask for the order and subsequently evolved to being able to make a call using a cell phone from the field when something was needed.
“When smartphones were introduced, we started texting that order.” he says. Consider the internet and the ability to communicate via smart devices today. There has been a natural progression toward online ordering and Carlisle believes that will translate into the agriculture industry.
“Growers are already ordering products that way in their personal life through companies like Amazon or Walmart and other parts of their business dealings, such as farm or crop insurance,” Carlisle says, “our goal with GreenPoint AG Online is to meet our growers in the next logical progression of communication.”