WinField United’s recently launched omnichannel (e-business) platform is beginning to take hold and help retail-owners, and their local growers, thrive in an ever-changing economic and agronomic landscape.
Research shows there is no one way to approach growers with increasingly large and sophisticated farming operations. They want a face-to-face relationship, they want brick and mortar and, of course, they want digital.
“The focus of our digital omnichannel customer experience is to help them remain relevant in the retail space,” says Drew Garretson, e-business field team lead for Land O’Lakes. “If they continue to conduct business in the same manner that they have historically done, they will become irrelevant to the growers.”
This comprehensive, deliberate 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. The need for a strong digital footprint is no longer in debate. Today, 11 percent of all U.S. corn and soy acres leverage WinField United’s tech platform. Also, 68 percent of the system’s seed footprint is engaged in paid ag tech.
“Customers look closely at ease of doing business,” says Mike Alpe, district sales manager for WinField United. “They also want useful information at their fingertips. As the growers of tomorrow become more reliant on technology and digital information, this strategy provides that aspect.”
So far, retail-owners taking advantage of digital platforms are experiencing wins right away. Garretson says most retail-owners are seeing success by deploying digital marketing campaigns to their customers.
“We measure the sales impact of those campaigns, and our system is showing an overall positive trend at almost 500 campaigns this year,” Garretson says.
He adds that retail-owners are also using the ordering process in the ATLAS portal—where retail-owners can build their online presence with the help of marketing and information system specialists. The portal focuses on website/digital marketing capabilities, the logged-in experience/ag tech tools and the commerce experience.
For example, a grower might put an order in for crop protection products in the ATLAS portal and then the retail-owner will take action to meet the demands of their customer. “All using a digital interface instead of manual and human interaction,” he says
What is omnichannel?
Omnichannel 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. The approach also has an element that cannot be replicated by anyone else: the local expertise and customized insights offered by our retail-owners’ teams of trusted agronomic advisors
WinField United’s ATLAS portal provides direct access to a suite of agronomic tools, local experts, marketing initiatives and supply chain services enable retailer-owners to fill the demands of the farmer in today’s market.
“It’s about creating a solution that provides them access to everything they need to service their growers,” says Amanda Neely, ag technology marketing and success team lead for Land O’Lakes. “We know we can’t build it all from scratch, so building strong relationships and a branded experience that feels unique to the retailer is key.”
Currently, about 80 retail-owners are on the omnichannel journey, completing nearly 500 digital marketing campaigns and generating more than 3-million page views and, more importantly, product sales.
All of WinField United’s personalized, data-backed solutions and field-level insights -- Answer Plot®, R7® Tool, R7® Field Forecasting®, Answer Tech®, and NutriSolutions® -- are resources accessible through the ATLAS sites.
“By offering efficiencies through enhanced customer experience, a retail-owner can better leverage growth opportunities at the farm gate,” says Mason Ross, digital technology manager for Land O’Lakes.
Greenpoint Ag, a long-time retail-seller of WinField United that provides agricultural input throughout the South, is aligned with the omnichannel strategy. Alpe says that shows growers Greenpoint Ag’s commitment to providing the latest tools and technology.
“It is an indication that Greenpoint is looking toward the future and not just the next season,” says Alpe, who works with accounts in Mississippi and Louisiana. “As an aligned retailer, we can join forces and create a stronger team in their market.”
Part of the journey for WinField United’s omnichannel approach is learning and adapting along the way. Struggles were expected, considering that the omnichannel strategy is relatively new to the agriculture industry.
“All journeys will encounter struggles,” Alpe says. “Many times, our best learning experiences happen during those struggles."
Though omnichannel is an all-encompassing business strategy, Ross says forecasting the journey in the presence of so many unknowns is a challenge. As he puts it, they “didn’t know what we didn’t know.”
“We are definitely making progress, and we certainly understand the need for speed, but we also want to be thoughtful with the way we get things done,” Neely says. “It is a change process for our owners so it takes time and they’re patient with us so far.”
Garretson says the omnichannel platform offers sustainable value to retail-owners’ bottom line.
“Technology evolves so quickly that we’ll never be completely satisfied,” he says. “There’s never a finish line. However, I think the retailer of tomorrow will all have a robust digital experience for their customers in some capacity in the next five years.”
As an organization, WinField United has already done a lot of the hard work of developing a comprehensive suite of tools, now it’s about maximizing their potential. Make no mistake, driving connectivity, adoption and the value proposition of our omnichannel strategy can lead to increased sales, earnings and grower retention. This is about positioning WinField United and our retail-owners for long-term success.