Bushel is a mobile tool to connect with customers
Bushel is a mobile app that allows farmers to access information such as contracts, scale tickets and cash bids whether they are on the tractor or in the grocery store. Its creators say it’s the first mobile app that allows ag retailers and grain elevators to connect with their customers in real time that also encourages better conversations and strengthens the relationship between agribusinesses and their customers.
“We think that there are three differentiations between co-ops and their competitors: locations, people and technology,” says Jake Joraanstad, CEO of Bushel. “Bushel helps with relationships and technology. If you want to move into 2018 with technology, this is a way to not have to do a huge overhaul and reach a younger generation of farmers.”
Bushel’s first customer was a large sugar beet cooperative. Their customers did not have access to account information to make decisions on the farm during the harvest season. They introduced the app and ended up getting 100 percent of their members using it.
The app has since expanded into the grain industry and currently has users totaling 6,000 farmers and 25 agribusinesses in the U.S. and Canada. The Arthur Companies, headquartered in Arthur, North Dakota, has been a customer of Bushel’s for about a year and a half and according to Chief Financial Officer John Melland, the transition has been seamless.
“We granted them access to our data and their developers created the connection between our data and their system,” says Melland.
Features on the app include access to contracts, scale tickets, cash bids, prepays, markets and weather. Both the farmer and elevator can receive push notifications to update them in a timely manner. The app is free to the farmer and there is no scanning or manual entry.
“All of those things make the farm run a lot smoother,” says Joraanstad. “You don’t have to make a call every time. You can just pull up your phone and check it.”
Bushel also makes it easy for growers to find the app through the use of a personalized interface. Instead of searching for Bushel in the app store, farmers instead search for their elevator’s name and logo. This allows for further brand recognition for the elevator and aligns with the app’s core mission of strengthening the relationships between ag retailers and their customers.
“A lot of things in the market try to cut off the co-op,” says Joraanstad, “but we believe the co-op is an important part. They’ve been underserved, so we want to give them better tools.”
There is no upfront charge to an agribusiness for the integration of the app. Instead, payment is done monthly and is based on the number of growers served.
Joranstaad says he thinks Bushel is leading the way to what will be the future of all technology involving farmer and ag retailer communication.
Apart from the initial setup, the Arthur Companies keeps the enagement up for their customers by introducing updates to the app periodically. Melland says this helps the business maintain relevance in their customers’ minds since they are constantly providing them with the newest, additional services.
Looking forward, the app is looking to include new features in the coming years including the ability to e-sign contracts, see invoices and make payments in the app each month.
“My favorite part is hearing little stories from these guys who come in and are excited about it like ‘hey this is so cool listen to this,’” says Melland. “We want to provide us much information as we can as timely as we can in a way that is ahead of our competitors.”