Customers are the foundation of your business.
But, in today’s market, where rising input costs could test customer loyalty, ag retailers must be cost-competitive AND laser-focused on addressing customer needs and changing buying behaviors to grow their businesses.
As farms grow, price starts to overtake relationships in importance. Farmers are considering doing more shopping around when it comes to input purchases. According to this study, 22% of farmers say they will buy some inputs online for next year’s crop. This amount has tripled in the past 5 years. As it becomes easier to drop ship inputs, you’re only going to see online buying grow.
How can you compete with that?
We have seen new developments in precision ag technologies since the early ’90s, yet only 25% of farmers are using it. With that said, we are consistently seeing eCommerce in ag rapidly outpace all other ag technology. It’s only going to continue to grow as more transactional farmer customers expect the same ease-of-use and transparency that they see in every other ecommerce platform they interact with.
Creating a better customer experience by giving your farmers new ways to interact with you is a great start. Adopting a CRM platform, like GROWERS Rally, will give your customers the sales experience they’re used to in other areas of their lives. The platform is mobile so you can easily build quotes with the farmer right at the farm gate. Share quotes, farm plans and purchase records via text message or email straight from the platform. Adding technology that enhances customer experience will send the message that you are evolving as a company and making it easier for your customers to do business with you.
Building a solid customer appreciation strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. You probably have all the information you need in the records you already keep about your customers. For example, a CRM system can help you segment your top customers by annual dollars spent. A CRM system is also helpful for personalizing offers based on a buyer’s historical purchasing preferences and operational goals.
Beyond having the physical customer information, you need to tap into your creativity. Try to come up with new and exciting ways to engage and reinvigorate your customer relationships. It’s especially important to keep things fresh with your most loyal customers.
Host a customer appreciation event
Customer appreciation events provide an excellent way to connect with your customers in a no-pressure situation. Consider hosting an event at your ag retail location that includes a meal and guest speakers that could be interesting to your farmers. For example, you could bring in experts to talk about recent agronomic challenges in your area or an economist who could provide an update on farm market conditions. Make sure the timing of your event aligns with a farmer’s seasonal schedule to ensure a good turnout. A postharvest celebration can be an excellent time to reflect on the success and missed opportunities of the season with your growers.
Customer appreciation events can also allow your customers to network with their peers. Farmers can learn how others in their area manage crops and share ideas.
Go above and beyond
Customer appreciation doesn’t have to result in a tangible gift or product discount, although those things are nice. Showing appreciation can be as simple as doing something extra for your customers.
For example, exposing your customers to products outside of your business to buy or complementary products that your business does not sell, but you know would benefit them.
End-of-year summaries of the products and quantities they purchased so they can reflect on their ROI and make plans for next year.
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