The benefits of a digital future for agricultural distributors & wholesalers
The future of agricultural farming, crop management and distribution is digital. To achieve growth, and stay competitive, the agricultural industry is looking to technology to help them improve efficiencies, increase productivity and exceed the expectations of a new generation of farm managers and agricultural consumers.
What does a digital future mean?
The words digitalising and digital transformation are thrown around, usually without any distinction, but they are both intended to encourage businesses to embrace technology to enhance how they operate. A digital future for the agricultural sector means improving business efficiencies, enhancing customer service, working with clearer, more accurate data for better production of goods and improving supplier & manufacturer relationships. These business benefits will then allow you to make more informed decisions, improve profitability and ultimately, allow you to drive your business forward, take on new opportunities and seamlessly expand into new markets.
How do I digitalise my business for the future?
Digitalisation looks at how you can improve your business processes and operations with technology. It isn’t about changing the way you run your business, but simply making it more efficient. You can digitalise how you manage sales orders, process your accounts and control your stock. Removing the manual processes you use daily and replacing them with a centralised software system is the first step to a digital future. An ERP system will connect all areas of your operations so you can work digitally to improve your business efficiencies. An EY report explains how “Many ag retailers still resort to notepad and triplicate carbon-copy forms for sales and inventory management. Providing digital platforms for sales, operations and customers to view local inventory levels and place online orders will greatly reduce inefficiencies”.
Taking the next step to future-proofing your business is looking to digitally transform your strategy. This goes beyond simply replacing your existing processes with digital alternatives but looks at your wider company goals and aims to change the way you currently operate to better utilise technology to become the leanest, most efficient organisation you can. For example, implementing business software doesn’t just have to help you with your existing trade counter and phone sales but it can help you to expand your market and begin selling online.
Taking your current sales operations and expanding your routes to market with an eCommerce store or marketplace channels, create new opportunities and room for growth. Often, digital transformation is customer-focused, as you’re looking for ways to better meet the needs of your customers, which in turn ensures you stay competitive. The report from EY believes that leveraging digital enhancements and allowing customers to place orders online can provide a better overall experience.
The benefits of a digital future
You don’t want to be left behind in the evolving industry of agriculture so it’s key to the future success of your business to embrace technology to allow you to effectively operate with lower costs, deliver an expectational customer service and build strong relationships with manufacturers. EY explains that “innovative ag retailers and crop input manufacturers are working together to establish more collaborative business models to integrate business processes to solidify a competitive advantage.”
Build better customer & supplier relationships
Providing a personalised and quality customer service sets you apart from your competitors and in a world where consumers have an endless choice of suppliers, a great experience will ensure they return to you. This isn’t as simple as providing a friendly service, but you need to take into account the speed of delivery, the accuracy and availability of goods, the quality of advice and knowledge on your products and the choice of a multi-channel experience including access to a customer portal online to make orders and check their account.
Reduce overhead costs
Clearer accuracy and visibility of your inventory, a quicker and effective order and return process, as well as seamless purchasing and accounts all influence your bottom-line. Investing in a system that takes control of all these processes in one centralised system reduces manual processes, removes duplication of work and errors and ultimately lets you to redeploy staff to other roles in the company that could have a more direct impact on the growth of the business.
Removing manual processes thereby reducing admin will inevitably improve efficiencies but utilising technology to give you the data and reports you need to push forward is key to continually improving the performance of your business. A key benefit of an ERP system is that the connected data from all areas of your business is more easily accessible so you can analyse the data. This gives you the benefit of highlighting your wins but noting your areas for improving so you’re always moving forward, and you’re never left behind.
Easily adapt to future changes
Having a digital strategy and mindset means you’re always prepared for change and you’re ready to adapt. You can respond quicker to change when you’ve invested in the technology you need to stay competitive. Even on a day to day basis, a software system gives you the advantage to seamlessly update supplier pricing, offer new products online and respond quickly to changing market trends.
For more information on what digitalisation and digital transformation means, download our guide for wholesalers and distributors for clear definitions and more tips on how you can implement changes to your business operations for a digital future.