In 2020, Farmers Business Network (FBN) is adding three facets to its business model. For a company who launched input sales in e-commerce and proudly carried the title as a “disruptive business,” it is a move mirroring the logistical offerings provided by traditional ag retail.
FBN is expanding its physical footprint, adding staff with agronomic knowledge to assist with purchase decisions, and introducing a rewards program.
Aiming for growth in its crop input sales, FBN is launching a Partner Program with 183 farmer members across the U.S. and Canada. A portion of the network will be “Hubs” that are integrated in FBN’s distribution network for FBN Direct.
Charles Baron, co-founder of FBN says this is leveraging the supply chain in a new way. FBN Hubs will provide warehouse, pickup, returns and other services for FBN Direct purchases.
“This makes our business more local,” Baron says. “It combines the best of ecommerce efficiencies with a permanent presence closer to our farmer members.”
Baron says two of the biggest requests by farmer members have been to add returns/exchanges as well as immediate pickup.
“If you are a hub, you get to be a local distribution point, which is especially important for in-season products,” he says. “Farmers can choose if they want product shipped to a hub for free, or we will offer delivery direct to their door.”
He also says this new model is a business opportunity for farmer members who have the facilities to serve as a warehouse and sales office.
Additionally, FBN Direct now includes a team of agronomists who are on call to answer farmer questions about input decisions.
“We have a staff of PhD agronomists that are regional and our farmers can talk to them through our system to help make decisions on seed, chemicals, fertilizer and disease issues,” Baron says. “These agronomists are not on commission. They are a support line combining their deep agronomic knowledge and our network intelligence.”
FBN Direct will now also have a rewards program. This includes earlier access to products and the ability to earn a free FBN membership based on participation in FBN offerings.