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10 Ways to Differentiate Your Ag Retail Business

“If you’re selling the same merchandise that’s commonly available, and you’ve got no point of differentiation, you’re dead.” Fanatics CEO Michael G. Rubin’s quote illustrates the critical importance of standing out in a competitive, crowded market. For ag retailers, that means identifying your points of differentiation and communicating them to your customers. If you’re struggling to find ways to differentiate your business, here are ten tips that may help.


Be the leader in customer service.

When customers can get the products and services they need from multiple suppliers, they often defer to the customer service experience when deciding who to purchase from. Microsoft’s Global State of Customer Service Report supports using customer service as a business differentiator, saying, “Our results reconfirm that customer service plays a pivotal role in the customer experience and serves as a brand differentiator, as 90% of survey respondents indicated that customer service is important to their choice of and loyalty to a brand.”


Personalize your service.

Make your customers feel important. Whether you’ve been doing business for 15 years or 15 days, take time to invest in relationships so you can personalize the buying experience. According to Zendesk’s CX Trends Report, 76% of customers expect personalized experiences, which could include engagement over their preferred contact method and product recommendations based on their purchase history. That means you’ll need to spend more time getting to know your customers and tracking details about their operations, production practices, management styles and product preferences to help differentiate your business.


Reward loyalty.

Another way to differentiate your business is by offering loyalty programs that incentivize your customers to return. Showing appreciation to your loyal customers feeds into a positive customer service experience, and it also gets people talking. Referral marketing is one of the best and simplest ways to get new business, so be good to your current customers. 


Stay on the cutting edge.

As the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” The agriculture industry is evolving at lightning speed, and those that don’t adapt to meet changing customer demands will be left behind. Follow industry trends, look into the future and inundate yourself with the latest and greatest in the industry. Those insights will set you up for success, especially among progressive customers who want to be early adopters of new technologies and products.


Reexamine your service offerings.

To stay on the cutting edge, you constantly need to re-evaluate your service and product offerings to ensure that they’re still relevant based on where the industry is headed. Attend trade shows, university meetings, and farmer roundtables to benchmark your business against the industry. There may be opportunities to add new tools, technologies, products or services to your portfolio to help you stand out in the competitive ag retail space. 


Get involved in your community.

Many ag retail locations are in rural areas with a strong sense of local community. One way to help your business stand out is by becoming active in local events. Sponsor a little league team, spend time at the local school educating kids about agriculture or donate money to a charitable cause in your community. Active community involvement helps build relationships and networks that further support your business. When people see you investing in the community you serve, they’re more likely to do business with you and recommend you to others. 


Simplify doing business.

Simplifying life for your customers is an excellent way to differentiate your business. Make the buying process straightforward and hassle-free. Don’t make farmers jump through hoops to cash in on rebates or other promotions. Know how your farmers prefer to do business (see personalized experience above), whether it’s a face-to-face meeting, via text, or online, and meet them where they are. Making the customer’s experience seamless and following through on your commitments to them will go a long way in differentiating you from your competition.


Deliver more value.

When you’re selling products and services similar to those of your competitors, you need to dig deeper to deliver more value. Try to find creative ways to fill gaps that others aren’t addressing. For example, host a training session at your site where local farmers could leWhen you’re selling products and services similar to those of your competitors, you need to dig deeper to deliver more value. Try to find creative ways to fill gaps that others aren’t addressing. For example, host a training session at your site where local farmers could learn about new products and services or the latest agronomic research relevant to your area. Or offer seasonal events to help farmers prepare for planting and harvest. If you’re unsure where to start, survey your farmers to understand what offerings they would value most.


Keep an eye on your competitors.

To effectively differentiate your own business, you need to know what your competitors do. What services do they offer? Where are they falling short or excelling? What have you heard about them on the street? The answers to these questions are a great place to start as you try to find ways to differentiate your business. Use competitor intelligence information to discover holes that could be filled or problems that aren’t being solved for customers – then find ways to address them.


Be authentic.

While it’s true that you’ll always need to be evolving and adapting, customers also appreciate consistency, reliability and genuineness. Stay true to your mission and vision, even as your product lineup or employees change over time. Be proud of the identity you’ve built within the agricultural community and share your story – the good, bad and ugly of doing business. Showing up authentically is an excellent way to showcase your values and vision while differentiating your business from the competition.

It’s not hard to find ways to differentiate your business if you have the right information and tools to help you get started. GROWERS Rally™ is a sales tool specifically designed for progressive ag retailers and gives you a leg up on your competition.

  • Ag Retailer
  • Agribusiness
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