Marie Kennedy, Senior Product Manager at Proagrica, says that despite the on-going challenges in agriculture, one tool ag retailers could be using to drive business profitability and growth are the valuable insights that can be gained from their own sales data. Proagrica is making this possible for ag retailers through the delivery of Commercial Analytics.
“At its core, Commercial Analytics provides valuable insights from ag retailers’ sales data. This data already exists within retailers ERP systems, but the challenge is unlocking its value through accurate and reliable insights” Kennedy explains. “Having the right information available to you at the right time means you can identify and seize revenue opportunities, recognize and adapt to challenges when they arise, and it enables you to make proactive decisions on strategy and day to day activities”
She says while agriculture is a complex business, Proagrica has the key combination of technical capability and ag knowledge that allows them to deliver a robust solution that can integrate and analyze the sales data that an ag retailer generates. This results in business users being able to take real, tangible actions from key commercial insights.
Kennedy outlines five key areas of an ag retail business that can benefit from Commercial Analytics.
Sales teams: “Agronomy and sales teams are the key for successful grower engagement, understanding the performance of these teams is vital” Kennedy says. “By having easy access to reliable and up-to-date information around sales team performance helps support a sales strategy that can be adjusted in real-time, and ensures team members can be incentivized in a way that drives high performance across the business”
Customer insights: “Account managers and agronomists know their customers so well,” Kennedy says. “Offering analytical insights from accurate customer data can enhance their knowledge and be complementary, helping to support sales conversations and revenue generation.”
An example would be the identification cross-selling opportunities. By understanding the historical buying profile of a grower, the time of year they buy, what inputs they purchase, and other information, a better picture can be built of what additional opportunities may lie with that grower, and actions taken to maximize their potential.
Product positioning: “Cash flow in ag can be tight,” Kennedy says. “In the process of distribution of products, we want to give visibility where there may be some hold ups.” For example, some locations may repeatedly show a delay in invoices being paid after products are delivered. Illuminating pinch points such as this can help to tighten up the process of order placement, fulfilment, delivery and billing, leading to a positive impact on cash flow.
Pricing: “Led from customer research, we observed there can be a lack of proactive strategy around pricing,” Kennedy says. “There can be pricing variations across sales people and locations and not much oversight to manage margins effectively.” By integrating ERP data, pricing trends and behaviors can be surfaced and analyzed. By having an up-to-date, consolidated and reliable view of pricing and margins a more informed strategy can be developed and deployed across the business.
Sales as a whole: “As retailers have grown through mergers and acquisitions, it’s important they can bring their data together in a coherent way,” Kennedy says. To help in this area Commercial Analytics enables retailers to break down total sales and invoices by location, region or type of product.
“With the availability of a consolidated, reliable view of sales data, you can be a bit more sophisticated with tracking performance versus target, have easy access to a business wide view of sales at any time, and better support sales forecasting and reporting,” she says.
Retailers can expect to see a very real return on their investment when adopting Commercial Analytics. Easy access to accurate sales and customer data, teams working together to build strategy and execute against it, and better standardization and access to up-to-date information across the business.
“There’s also a nuanced ROI in time savings. We hear how one person, or a small group of people, are often responsible for running the numbers and creating reports, and that all takes time and often leads to inconsistencies and lack of trust in the data,” Kennedy says.
She concludes by sharing it’s not just about data integration, but rather it’s the end-to-end process of integration, standardization and enrichment that is vital. Effectively shaping raw ERP data into a more consistent and valuable asset is the only way that effective commercial insights can be delivered for ag retailers.