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

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
EmployeesAsmark Institute Dedicates New Training Center To Ford West
August 6, 2014
The Asmark Institute plans to recognize the retired industry leader's years of service to the fertilizer industry at the new state-of-the-art facility in Owensboro, KY. Read More
LegislationUSDA: Quick Implementation Of Disaster Assistance Programs A ‘Top Priority’
July 9, 2014
USDA has processed 106,000 payments to farmers in 40 states across the country who suffered livestock and grazing losses between Oct. 2011 and passage of the 2014 Farm Bill. Read More

Trending Articles

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
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More
ManagementExpert To Discuss Farmland Value, Rent At Farm Science Review
August 18, 2014
While cropland values in Ohio increased in the past two years, they have remained flat in 2014, declining in some cases, according to an Ohio State University agricultural economist. Read More
EquipmentAdvance Your Technology IQ At MAGIE
August 13, 2014
The Midwest AG Industries Exposition (August 20-21) is the place you need to be to see, study and evaluate how new advances in the equipment, operations, crop protection and fertility sectors can help your business prosper. Read More

Latest News

StewardshipSecretary Vilsack Highlights Innovative Conservation Ef…
September 15, 2014
Nearly $16 million in Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) will be awarded to 47 organizations to help develop cutting-edge ideas to accelerate innovation in private lands conservation. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Cargill Lawsuit
September 15, 2014
Syngenta believes that the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies. Read More
Equipment2014 Farm Science Review Launches Mobile App
September 15, 2014
Smartphone and tablet users planning on attending the 2014 Farm Science Review can now download this year’s customized mobile application. Read More
CropLife 100Southern States Coop Grower Sets Georgia Soybean Yield …
September 15, 2014
Georgia farmer Randy Dowdy's soybeans yielded an astonishing 110.66 bushels per acre, crushing the previous record of 82 bushels-per-acre. Read More
NIMITZ Treated vs Untreated pepper plant
InsecticidesNIMITZ Nematicide Approved By EPA
September 12, 2014
NIMITZ is a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with simplified application features, user safety and an active ingredient with a unique mode of action. Read More
InsecticidesMarrone Bio Innovations Receives Patent For Chromobacte…
September 11, 2014
The patent is the first step for MBI in developing a commercially viable product to inhibit infestations of corn rootworm larvae across America and other regions. Read More
HerbicidesDow AgroSciences: Keeping The Pipeline Stocked
September 11, 2014
Dow AgroSciences is embracing product diversity to drive the company’s future. Read More
CropLife 100CHS Is Official Partner Of New St. Paul Ballpark
September 10, 2014
The new ballpark in St. Paul, MN, officially became CHS Field with Twin Cities-based CHS Inc. revealed as the naming rights partner. Read More
EquipmentHagie Honors Farming Stewardship Leaders
September 10, 2014
The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader award recognizes Iowa farmers as environmental leaders that are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality. Read More
Precision AgPlantBeat: Your Plants’ Pulse In The Palm Of Your Han…
September 10, 2014
A new agronomic monitoring and recommendation service from Phytech could rewrite the book on real-time plant health status monitoring. Read More
StewardshipCCAs Making Headway With 4R Program In Lake Erie Wester…
September 9, 2014
Certified Crop Advisers are implementing the 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification program in Lake Erie's Western Basin to improve water quality. Read More
MicronutrientsMicronutrients Going Macro
September 9, 2014
Between 2014’s fantastic growing conditions and a heightened awareness on plant nutrition, the major players in micronutrients are gearing up for another big year. Read More
Crop InputsFMC Announces Cheminova Takeover
September 8, 2014
FMC Corporation today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Cheminova, a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Industries. Read More
HerbicidesValent’s Fierce XLT Herbicide Receives EPA Approv…
September 8, 2014
Valent U.S.A. Corp. announced today that Fierce XLT Soybean Herbicide is now federally registered for preemergence weed control in soybeans Read More
Eric SfiligojIndustry Consolidation Set To Increase Going Forward
September 8, 2014
As the agricultural marketplace moves into fall, one observer predicts the pace of consolidation will grow at all levels. Read More
LegislationCropLife America Leaders Address Regulatory Landscape, …
September 8, 2014
As CropLife America enters its 81st year, the organization’s leaders have seen another period of rapid and visible policy and public issue activity. 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
Precision AgPrecision Agriculture: Finding The Payback
September 6, 2014
Profitability in precision ag is not about any one technology, but the result of employing technology in a total system approach that is agronomically sound. Read More