Benefits of a Grower Portal – A Unique Perspective
18 Oct 2021
If you are looking to increase customer engagement, you should consider a robust digital grower connection or grower portal to link your customers to your agriculture retail business. The Agvance grower portal, Grower360 offered by trusted industry leader SSI, has been on the market for over two years with about 10,000 growers from 114 companies across the US and Canada using the tool. The number continues to grow as more and more retail companies are placing importance on customer engagement. The valuable tool encompasses agronomy, grain, energy, and accounting functions. Utilizing the portal gives growers access to their account information at any time including viewing work progress, and receiving text, email, or app alert notifications from your company.
Recently Mike Wheeler, National Sales Manager with SSI for 29 years and life-long farmer, shared insight into the many advantages of the Agvance grower portal. Mike provides a unique perspective of not only selling Agvance and making product suggestions but also as an end-user utilizing the grower portal as a farmer and customer of a local ag retailer.
By notifying farmers about field services through text, email, or in-app alerts you can increase communication and ease the farmer's stress. Each grower can customize notification preferences, add additional phone numbers to text, and even designate windows of time approved for text notifications. Some farmers choose to receive both a quick text and a more detailed follow-up email.
“Today, we expect instantaneous information. At the bank, I expect them to have a portal that allows me to log in and look at all my transactions. The services they offer are of utmost importance to me because outside of regular hours, I want access to my information. And as a farmer, it's no different. My son and I both have full-time careers, and so, being able to get the information when we need it is very, very important. So, it has just really taken a lot of stress out of our life and, and I really enjoy it both in dry fertilizer and particularly with the chemicals.”
Retrieving Account Information
With the grower portal, farmers can access full account details including specifics for each of their fields or energy tanks. Accessible records clarify cash rent, sharecropping, and landlord situations by field and identify precisely who will be invoiced.
“We've been changing some business relationships and [the grower portal] gives me verification of the billing splits. I don't have to wait until the invoice comes out to know. I can see how the company has it setup to make sure what we cash rent is set up 100%, or 50/50. And then if we have a sharecropper, we've got that set up in the correct way too, and I have verification.”
Viewing Invoices and Making Payments
Farmers can utilize the grower portal to view Blend Tickets and verify what’s going to be applied to the field. Once a job is complete and the invoice is created, farmers view invoices in the portal and make a payment.
“I really like the idea that I've got access to my invoice statements; I can reprint them on my own if I want. I automatically [receive them by] e-mail and they do send me a paper statement, but that's up to the company. You may be able to save postage and time printing.”
The initial view in the portal is a summary overview. By selecting an invoice or balance, the farmer can drill down to see specific details such as prepay remaining, chemical names, and much more. Ag retailers can offer online payment options for their customers, including credit card payments through integration with Heartland.
“Being able to drill down to see what the booking was and what season we may have had is a big asset to me. One of the other things that I have used this for…is to pull all this information to give to my CPA, and to make sure fertilizer dollars are correct, and chemical dollars.”
Accessing Field Specific Weather Info
Weather is easily accessible as farmers review field data in the grower portal. Weather by precise location is right in the app; geocoded and, therefore, specific to each field.
“The weather accuracy has been really, really good. Even a 4-or 5-mile difference between farms makes a difference in weather reports. [The grower portal] tells you whether you need to check that field, whether you can work, plant, harvest, or whatever the case is.”
Making Decisions based on Product Records
Users can filter and sort by date and product from the product page. Exporting products to a spreadsheet from the product page is helpful at tax time or in making plans for next year.
“When talking about prepaying next year or what your needs are going to be next year, it's just a quick way to look historically and to export to Excel and then e-mail. I didn't have to call my dealer up and say, hey, could you send me a report of everything I bought from you this year, and that to me, that was a big thing."
Harvest requires a team effort, and with many family members and workers contributing, paper scale tickets may be scattered among the team. The grower portal brings all the scale tickets together, and if you are running the combine or driving the truck, the farmer has the information and can sort and filter and export as needed. Read more about grain farmer resources.
“Having the ability to access from your phone a particular on a scale ticket, I think, is a huge benefit now. Just as you can look at all the products you bought, having one place you can go where all those scale tickets are is a big benefit to us in the heat of the moment to try and stay on top of things. Just knowing how many bushels the truck had and what the moisture was, are probably two key factors that make [the grower portal] a tremendous tool to use.”
Additional harvest features include watching grain futures with integrations from Barchart or DTN and signing grain contracts by e-signature from the grower portal.
“I can sign electronically, and I don't have to be at a printer, scan it out or in, or maybe they mail it to me, I have to sign it, put it in an envelope, and mail it back. This just makes us so much more efficient."
To request more information about Grower360 as a customizable grower portal you can offer to your customers please complete the form below.