March 2, 2016

6 Reasons the Seed Industry Should Adopt
eCommerce and How to get Started

Author Chris Wilson
Category Blog | Industry |

Did you know that the global seed market accounted for $23.65 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $55.3 billion by 2022 at CAGR of 11.2%? There is a huge demand for quality seeds in the market, for obvious reasons, and it can only go north.

As with most industries today, eCommerce has also had an impact on the seed industry. In this article, we will discuss

  • the role eCommerce can play in addressing the many challenges of the seed industry,
  • features required for an eCommerce platform to meet the demands of the seed industry, and
  • why eCommerce, ERP, and CRM integration is also relevant for businesses in the seed industry

Reasons for eCommerce in Seed Industry

  • Predict and forecast market demands

The entire exercise begins with a sound understanding of customers’ requirements, season after season while addressing complexities of geo-demographic variances. Likewise, forecasting market demands accurately is also a challenge in planning production and supply activities. With an eCommerce website, there are tools that can be utilized to conduct seasonal /pre-seasonal surveys depending on the nature of the seed. The results of these surveys will help businesses strategize and align their marketing and sales efforts.

  • Reduce shelf life of products

Seeds are perishable items and companies have limited time to move their inventory while dealing with the fluctuating prices of seeds. It is, therefore imperative to have multiple sales channels to help move the inventory faster. A robust eCommerce system can help businesses gain deeper and wider market penetration capabilities; both domestic and international. Additionally, eCommerce also helps you stay competitive.

  • Better handle the seasonality of Sales

eCommerce can also help businesses better manage the seasonality of their business. With eCommerce, businesses can manage the seasonal rise in sales with the same sales force by improving their productivity and performance. Sales personnel can book orders for their customers/clients online, from any place anytime, significantly cutting down on the time between order placement and order processing.

  • Get your B2B customers online

A properly designed and implemented eCommerce store can help you bring your B2B customers, the distributors, and retailers, into its ecosystem thus doing away with the necessity of having storages/inventories maintained at various levels of the supply chain. Distributors and retailers will be able to place orders for self or their customers from the same platform; helping you cut costs and better manage your inventory. What’s more? With the e-store, you can further boost sales by running localized and targeted online promotions and campaigns.

  • Improve customer service and support

With an eCommerce system in place, businesses can focus more on customer service and support, than the operational aspects of a sale. eCommerce system brings in transparency by ensuring availability of updated product, inventory, order, and customer information to your customers/partners anytime and anywhere. Thereby serving as a virtual customer support platform, leading not only to savings in customer support but also building customer loyalty.
Businesses can further streamline their support activities by integrating their eCommerce store with their CRM system.

  • Support for marketing activities

The seed industry is constantly subject to the forces of nature, globalization, and socio-political situations. Driving marketing activities in such a volatile business environment will require a strategic marketing platform that can quickly pass business insights to your customers and close a potential opportunity. Businesses can effectively leverage the marketing features of the eCommerce store to do just that.

Key features required in an eCommerce Store for Seed Industry

  • Support for Product Information Management (PIM)

While product information is the backbone of any eCommerce store, its importance cannot be emphasized enough for the seed industry. Businesses in seed industry have to present a lot of information, in multiple formats, to educate their customers and help them make an informed decision. Hence, an eCommerce store must have excellent product information management capabilities to be an effective sales channel for the seed industry.
Moreover, the product information also serves as an on-demand knowledge base that serves as a virtual support and marketing resource.

  • Ability to upsell and cross-sell

The ability to display related product offerings help customers in selecting the right set of products that meet their needs and requirements. While this improves customer experience, it also means additional sales/ revenue for your business. Say for instance a customer is looking for a particular variety of seeds, what could be sold along with it are crop specific fertilizers, planters etc.

  • Scalability – to support your growing needs

Ensure that your eCommerce platform is scalable and can grow with your business. Businesses at times end up adopting systems which end up becoming a burden, as they could not scalable to match the businesses’ requirements. Moreover, businesses in seed industry usually have a large number of SKUs and the platform must be able to handle that without bringing the system down.

B2B Features

  • Salesperson module

It is not just about your customers. If your eCommerce store can double up as a sales portal  then, you can not only manage your sales representatives but also empower your sales representatives with all the information they need to close deals faster. With the Salesperson module, the sales person can book orders for their customers online, anywhere and anytime.

  • Sales quote

Typical to any B2B environment, B2B sales in seed industry also involve raising quotation. Having the flexibility to raise, review and approve quotes online can drastically improve the quote to order cycle; while of course positively influencing customer loyalty and experience.

  • Quickorder

B2B orders usually are repeat orders with the same set of products in the basket. Quick order feature gives customers the flexibility to quickly select products, enter quantity and place orders. This feature goes a long way in improving the eCommerce adoption among the B2B customers, as they do not necessarily have to go through the lengthy process common in a B2C scenario.

  • Credit Limit, Net term and Bill Pay

With B2B customers on the board, it is important to give them the flexibility to purchase on credit and subsequently make payments online on pre-agreed terms and conditions.

Challenges that Integration can help you Overcome

Most businesses already have an existing accounting, ERP and CRM systems in place to manage their backend operations. With eCommerce being added to the list, and efficient operations mandating information flow between these systems, manual information sync between these systems is no longer an option. Manual information sync techniques are expensive, time-consuming, and error-prone. In some cases, they are the single biggest limiting factor in the growth of the business.

An effective integrated solution (eCommerce, ERP, and CRM) can help businesses in seed industry

  • With Customer specific pricing from their ERP system to the eCommerce system,
  • Improve inventory management with automated product and inventory order sync,
  • Automate tax information sync from eCommerce to ERP system for tax and regulatory compliance,
  • Improve customer experience by centralizing all customer related information for enhanced personalization, and more.
  • Minimize order aging with automated order sync from eCommerce to ERP system (for fulfillment)

For more information on how eCommerce and integration can help your business contact i95Dev here. We have worked with a number of customers from the seed industry and helped them scale their business to the next level.

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