A Window On The Supply Chain

Retailer customer service

World stocks are down. Consumption is up and so are prices. Production agriculture has waited a long time for this time in the sun. But as the industry basks in the glow of 2007, preparations toward 2008 will require execution of sound business fundamentals. Regardless of where markets are headed, there will be volatility in the coming year.

This is a big opportunity for retailers to establish themselves as a strong partner in the grower’s business planning cycle. Specifically, you can show your mettle as a valued supply chain partner. Record demand for seed, fertilizer, and other inputs is pushing growers to commit to plans now to ensure access to desired products. A grower can’t afford NOT to be affiliated with a smart retailer who knows how to stand alongside them through the journey to 2008 production.

Being A Smart Retailer

What are distinguishing characteristics of a smart retailer? Being an effective supply chain partner is one. The old adage says you can’t sell from an empty wagon. But with higher costs for everything, keeping the wagon full can strain dealer working capital beyond the breaking point. The costs to carry inventory for months can be staggering. Carrying too many products or the wrong product mix simply isn’t an option. However, the cost of losing a customer because you didn’t have the right product is an ever-present threat.

The keys to successful supply chain management are planning, forecasting, and replenishment. The science of six sigma supply chain efficiency, pioneered by General Electric and others, has transformed many industries and there is a wealth of information in the management literature about its application. However, a key point about effective supply chains is that communication effectively flows between participants. You don’t have to take the plunge into six sigma.

Five Steps To Follow

1. Make sure your customers are informed of the latest market conditions for key supplies like fertilizer. Don’t be afraid to provide the best available industry intelligence and information and let them make their own decisions on timing of purchases. This is especially important as more product is sourced offshore. Your insight and industry contacts will provide them with some of the best information they can hope to find anywhere. Will it be 100% accurate? Probably not. Use all the disclaimers you need to use, but keep customers informed and give them a chance to make an intelligent decision.

2. Educate your customer on supply chain logistics. Shoot straight on what it takes to move a truckload or pallet of a particular item from Point A to Point B. Growers are learning that last-minute impulse purchases of items like seed are a thing of the past.

3. Embrace technology and automation. Help suppliers become more efficient by utilizing Web-based ordering systems/account management. Supply chains aren’t clogged with paper.

4. Take a hard look at your own inventory procedures. Can your employees access real-time inventory information from your computer system? If not, you are probably carrying “just-in-case” inventory rather than practicing the preferable “just-in-time” management.

5. Are you afraid to talk about financing with your customers? Time to get over it. Supply chain partners work together. That means sharing the load on the cost of capital. Competitively priced capital is being effectively delivered through vendor-sponsored programs from a variety of sources. Available capital facilitates opportunistic purchase opportunities for your customers. This includes early purchase discount programs offered by manufacturers and wholesalers. Work to pre-qualify customers for appropriate credit limits and programs so they can pounce on a short-lived ordering or pricing opportunity. More importantly, they won’t be tying up your working capital and preventing you from making your own opportunistic moves.

Smart retailers can come in all sizes and categories, from independents to cooperatives to publicly traded corporate giants. There are opportunities to elevate customer service and business performance in all environments and all settings. The 2008 season will be no exception with plenty of opportunities to be a Preferred Supply Chain Partner.

Leave a Reply

Management Stories

ManagementMACA 2014: The State Of The Agricultural Industry, And Then Some
October 9, 2014
The trade association’s annual gathering featured speakers from across agriculture and beyond. Read More
StewardshipA Multi-Layered Approach To Water Quality
October 6, 2014
Illinois event highlights research and technology designed to better monitor and improve water quality — and the benefits of cooperative, coordinated effort. Read More
StewardshipMichigan Agriculture Leaders On Toledo Water Ban: We Want To Be Part Of The Conversation
August 8, 2014
Leaders of Michigan agricultural organizations said Thursday that the government should not have a “knee-jerk reaction” based on last weekend’s water ban in Toledo due to fertilizer run-off in Lake Erie. Read More
ManagementRussia Bans U.S. And EU Ag Product Imports In Ukraine Sanctions Battle
August 7, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned the import of agricultural goods from countries that have imposed sanctions on Russia. Read More

Trending Articles

Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More

Latest News

InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More
Crop InputsArysta Hires Former Agri-Chem, CPS Employee For Delta S…
October 23, 2014
New Territory Sales Manager Mark Peel’s primary role will focus on working with growers regarding fungicides in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Appointments In Plant Food Division
October 22, 2014
GROWMARK, Inc. has announced the three key staff changes in its Plant Food Division. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Appoints New VP Of Finance And Risk Management
October 22, 2014
Wade Mittelstadt has been named GROWMARK Vice President, Financial and Risk Mangement, effective December 1, 2014. Read More
FungicidesEPA Approves BASF In-Furrow Corn Fungicide
October 22, 2014
Field trials show Xanthion In-furrow fungicide provides more rapid emergence, extended residual control and improved seedling health than untreated crops. Read More
EquipmentAgraScout App Available At No Cost To Universities
October 21, 2014
AgraScout, a fast and easy to use mobile crop scouting app, is now available at no cost to University students, Read More
LegislationNew Farm Bill Program To Provide Relief To Farmers Affe…
October 21, 2014
The USDA has implemented a new Farm Bill initiative that will provide relief to farmers affected by severe weather, including drought. Read More
ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara I…
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More