WinField United’s mission is to provide customers with a total agronomy solution to best serve their local growers. Being that trusted resource for our retail-owners and making sure they are the trusted resource for their growers is the guiding principle for WinField United’s all-encompassing approach to e-business. It’s all about keeping our owners at the center of the grower relationship.
It starts with agronomic leadership, an area where WinField United is able to tap into unmatched data and insights to provide the tools and solutions to help advance agriculture intelligently. The WinField United approach also leverages something that cannot be replicated by anyone else: the local expertise and customized insights offered by our retail-owners’ teams of trusted agronomic advisors.
“When we start to talk about ag technology and e-businesses, it’s all about what the owners can do with this information to support their growers,” says Joel Wipperfurth, director of ag technology for WinField United.
With this in mind, the company’s approach to e-business is comprehensive, deliberate and research-based. WinField United’s solution combines agronomic insights, a personalized online grower experience through the owner’s website and a digital approach to supply chain integration that connects the retailer with WinField United and manufacturers.
This comprehensive approach brings together several components that retailers can tap into to offer a more complete solution:
Leveraging existing ag tech capabilities and investments (R7® Tool, R7® Field Forecasting Tool, etc.) to provide growers with field level insights and data-backed solutions.
Offering a comprehensive omnichannel experience that empowers retailers to capitalize on their local expertise and relationships.
Delivering differentiated services and insights, along with generic and branded products to serve different grower segments.
Providing an integrated supply chain experience to help meet the ever-evolving needs of progressive growers and identify optimization and cost-saving opportunities for retailers.
“Think of each element as a building block,” says Teddy Bekele, Land O’Lakes, Inc. Chief Technology Officer. “We’re not going to force the full set on our retailers, it’s up to them to figure out which blocks make sense for their organization.”
The key to bringing this all to life is shared responsibility, and time is not necessarily on our side. Growers, like all consumers, are looking for the convenience, transparency and personalized digital experience enabled by an online business platform.
“It’s not just on us. It’s not just on the owner. It’s not just on the field teams. It’s not just on the internal teams,” Wipperfurth says. “It’s a vision and strategy and mission to get everybody moving in the same direction.”
Many companies and startups are rushing e-commerce offerings to the market in the ag space. Some of these solutions circumvent local retailers entirely, others are significantly cutting into retailer margins. In either case, these solutions are disrupting the market.
“A majority of these efforts are targeted to reach a segment of transactional growers looking for a shopping cart-only experience and generic products,” Bekele says. “They’re standing up a website and offering products that are really cheap but don’t offer much variety or insights.”
That’s not the WinField United approach.
“The one place I see our organization shaping up differently is that a lot of companies are approaching this from a software space,” Wipperfurth says. “But the one place that no one is leading is with the core data piece.”
From WinField United’s perspective, you don’t start with a website that only sells product. For our re-tail network, we want to take advantage of the data and research WinField United has spent 20 years compiling and leverage the relationships we’ve built with key manufacturers.
“We can’t just start in the middle and expect the value proposition to come along with it,” Wipperfurth says. “We need that shared accountability to make sure that, as we are building online ordering sites, we’re also maximizing supply chain efficiencies and engaging growers and sellers with the leading ag technology tools.”
Over the summer, WinField United surveyed many retailers and growers on their e-business needs to help identify the best path forward. Now, WinField United is beginning to meet with retailers to talk about their e-business and ag tech plans and chart a path forward.
“We’re helping them understand what our go-to-market strategy is from a long-term standpoint and making sure we have an opportunity to share the vision of that roadmap,” Bekele says. “Ultimately we need retailers to buy in and join us on this journey because, together as a system, we can provide a much better solution than any of us, or any competitor, can do alone.”
To get started, owners can contact their WinField United sales or ag customer team (ACT) representatives. Completing the full e-business process will take some time, so interested retailers should get started as soon as possible.
Keep an eye out for more stories in the coming months that look into the individual elements (or building blocks) that make up our complete e-business solution.