As ecommerce has solidified itself as a permanent fixture of the modern economy, we’ve seen it originate completely new sectors, and change the way existing industries conduct business as well. Media streaming, fashion retail, furniture shopping—no market is safe from the influence of online vending.
So it’s natural that the agribusiness sector is feeling ecommerce’s lasting impact on the global market. While it may seem counter-intuitive for a relationship to exist between the farming industry and the online marketplace, more and more farmers are embracing ecommerce sites.
This is for a number of reasons, one being online grocery shopping’s recent entrance into the cultural consciousness. If consumers are willing to purchase their produce, dairy, and other farm products on their computers through supermarket vendors, then why not directly from the farmers themselves?
Another factor is the recent improvement of Internet availability and quality in rural areas. Providing these agrarian areas with bandwidth has already to lead to farmers conducting parts of their operations entirely online, especially for purchasing farming equipment at better prices than their local farming co-ops offer.
It is this search for competitive pricing that has driven many farmers to embrace the digitization of their industry. In 2016, the Google Ventures-backed Farmer Business Network (FBN), launched an online service that allowed farmers to monitor nationwide supply prices and make informed purchases of production tools.
So despite the historically slower rate of assimilation between technology and the agriculture world, it seems the modern farmer recognizes the potential advantages an ecommerce site offers. Those who have already adopted online retail stores for their farms have seen profitable results.
In China, the world’s largest producer of agricultural products, this idea of a modern farmer has already become commonplace. Ecommerce giant Alibaba’s research institute, AliResearch, approximates there is already one million of these new age agriculturists that sell crops and other goods online.
In 2010, over 3.5 billion yuan (roughly half a billion U.S. dollars) worth of farming goods were sold through a popular ecommerce website TaoBao. In 2016, that number skyrocketed to 40 billion yuan, or 5.8 billion U.S. dollars.
India, another heavily agrarian economy, is also turning to the online marketplace to combat the challenges their farmers and growers are facing today. One startup, BigHaat, launched an immensely popular ecommerce platform for agriculturists to sell seeds, crop protection nutrients, and other farming tools.
Ecommerce is fueling these already booming Asian economies, especially in its cornerstone sector: agribusiness.
BigHaat’s ecommerce site (Source)
While agrarian online retail sites are less common in the US, more and more farmers are realizing ecommerce’s potential to boost a revenue channel that is already extremely prevalent among America’s agriculturists: direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales.
Between roadside stands, farmers markets, and on-farm stores, today’s farmers have an increasingly high number of opportunities to market and sell directly to the customer.
According to the Economic Research Service (ERS), farmers that utilize the DTC channels are more likely to stay in business than competitors utilizing more traditional means of vending. The research group attributes this to the generally low costliness of DTC marketing and sales.
Operating an ecommerce site opens up enormous possibilities for the DTC revenue channel. Not only does it skyrocket your customer engagement, brand visibility, and market outreach, but it also generates new revenue streams from affiliations, transaction, or advertising fees.
When selling through conventional channels, growers don’t get a say in the pricing. With an ecommerce site, as well as other DTC venues, farmers possess greater control over their pricing and have significantly increased negotiating power.
The modern American farmer has already identified these global ecommerce trends, and acknowledges that the online marketplace will soon become commonplace for all agriculturists. Just as ecommerce has shaped virtually every sector of the American economy, it will affect how growers conduct their business.
The farmers that have hired the services of a web development agency recognize the importance of remaining on the state-of-the-art practices of their industry, and know the consequences of ignoring the changes brought upon by our increasingly digital world.
Ecommerce is heralding a major change in the agricultural domain. It’s up to you to adapt to the changing landscape, or get left behind.