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Digital business transformation involves the use of advanced devices and software to optimise a company's operations. Digitisation offers big benefits, including better customer experience, improved team member skills, enhanced data analysis, boosted brand image, and broader customer reach. (1)
Even so, reports indicate that a large percentage of farmers worldwide are lagging when it comes to the adoption of digital solutions. Possible reasons for this include a lack of trust in the feasibility of information and communication technologies (ICT) in agriculture, insufficient digital skills, and poor internet connectivity. (2)
Fortunately, internet access is rapidly expanding on a global scale. Ownership of technological devices like smartphones and laptops is also on a steep rise. These days, it's much easier for farmers to embark on digital transformation. With that in mind, here's an in-depth guide to digitising your agriculture business.
1. Build a business website
The first step to digitising your agriculture business online is setting up a website. It's a surefire way to build your credibility because customers have a habit of looking up everything online, including farm produce. Aside from credibility, here are other benefits of having a business website:
Permanent accessibility: The world wide web never sleeps. As such, customers can access your business around the clock and shop for products or read your articles. This can't be said about a brick-and-mortar land-based store, which is only available during the usual operating hours.
Cost-effectiveness: If you're operating near or around an area with high land values, setting up a land-based store to showcase your products might get pretty expensive. On the other hand, setting up an online store is significantly more affordable. You can get web-hosting services for as little as USD$100 per year.
Great supplement to your physical location: If you already have a physical store for your farm produce, you can build a website to act as a support. Remember, your ultimate goal is unlimited visibility to increase your sales volumes. Thus, having a website on top of your physical store comes in handy in achieving this goal.
Enables potential customers to research you: As highlighted before, 82 per cent of customers usually like learning more about a product before committing to buying it online. Your agriculture website is a perfect place to inform and educate the public about what you sell. (3)
To setup a website there's some things you need to look into:
Choose an appropriate website builder such as Wix, WordPress, GoDaddy, or SquareSpace. These are especially helpful if you don't have coding skills.
For best results, it's advisable to outsource website building to professionals.
2. Optimise your site for search engines
It's not enough to set up a website and upload a few articles and audio-visual content. Your target customers may never know the site exists. For this reason, you'd want to optimise your site for search engines.
It's said that most customers' purchase journey starts on the search engine. In other words, a typical web user would type their query on search engines and then click on the suggested sites with relevant information.
In this sense, you'd want your business website to appear on the top pages of search engines. It's easier for potential customers to access your website if it's ranked higher than when it's buried deep in the search results.
That's the basic idea behind Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). With that in mind, consider the following SEO strategies for your agriculture business website.
Earn credible backlinks
Backlinks are one of the most critical ranking factors in search engine algorithms. If there's articles with hyperlinks leading back to your website, you're more likely to rank higher. Search engines interpret backlinks as a sign of authority and popularity, and reward with higher rankings. (4)
However, if you're just getting started, it might take a long time to earn backlinks naturally. Fortunately, there are several link-building companies you can work with to earn high-quality backlinks from sites with high domain authority.
Many SEO companies offer affordable link building packages which provide a set number of links per month. Overtime your digital site will improve in its rankings, meaning more leads for your business.
Build content around relevant keywords
Keywords are another critical ranking factor for SEO. Web users search for information online using similar phrases. For instance, somebody with an interest in organic food may use the following terms on search engines:
You'd want to create content around these keywords if you produce organic food. In doing this your articles will be highly relevant to what your potential customers are searching for, thus improving your search engine ranking. Some of the best tools you can use for keyword research include:
Note that some of these you have to pay money to use.
Other SEO strategies
Aside from link building and keyword optimisation, here are other SEO strategies for your consideration:
3. Get social
Studies suggest that businesses with a solid presence across digital platforms may be more profitable than those operating primarily offline. And one digital platform you wouldn't want to miss is social media.
Billions of people hang out on these social networks daily. As an intelligent entrepreneur, you know how crucial it is for you to go where your customers spend most of their time and interact with them. (5)
The following are the most popular social networks you'd want to consider for your agriculture business:
But remember, it's not all about creating a social media page and leaving it as it is. You must continuously engage your followers.
Below are helpful ideas you can try out:
4. Use E-commerce to boost your sales volumes
With an increasing number of customers turning online to shop for agricultural products, the need to incorporate e-commerce into your business can't be overemphasised.
One approach is to build an e-commerce website and stock it with all your farm products. You can use e-commerce website builders like BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCartel, and Weebly.
Alternatively, you can advertise your goods on renowned third-party e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Walmart marketplace, and Alibaba. Here are some key advantages of such sites:
Exposure: Sites like Amazon already have millions of active users. Your agribusiness will benefit from this huge customer base, and you can get orders from customers who might not even be familiar with your brand.
Multiple revenue streams: You can belong to Amazon and Alibaba and other online stores simultaneously. None of these sites require total loyalty. That opens up your farming business to multiple revenue streams.
Trust: Research indicates that most consumers are more likely to purchase from e-commerce marketplaces than a company website. This is because they're established, and consumers trust them more. (7)
Easy logistics: Selling on third party platforms saves you from the burden of shipping out products and dealing with returns.
Global reach: The most popular e-marketplaces operate globally. You can be in Australia and sell your farm products to overseas customers.
5. Develop an app for your agribusiness
The digital space has significantly changed the way people do things. It's an age where more than 75 per cent of the world's population uses smartphones or tablets. In this regard, you'd want to create a custom app for your agribusiness. The following are some of the most notable benefits of going through this move: (8)
Centralised management: An app allows you to centralise and manage all critical aspects of your agribusiness, such as maintaining product databases, analysing sales metrics, communicating with clients, fulfilling orders, and advertising your farm produce.
Flexibility: An agribusiness app enables you to control your business from anywhere and at any time, so it doesn't confine you to your desk.
Efficient client management: With an app, you can store all your clients' information and serve them at a personal level.
Loyalty: A customer who downloads your app is likely to use it often. Repeat customers are the desire of any entrepreneur, bearing in mind how challenging and costly it is to acquire new customers.
An excellent communication channel: Apps can send notifications to users, meaning your customers will get marketing messages on time.
6. Use pay-per-click ads
Search engines like Google, Bing, and Microsoft, allow you to display ads at the top of their search results as a sponsored link. The good thing with these ads is that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
What's more, you can choose whatever amount you're willing to spend and set up a campaign with that budget. Here are more advantages of pay per click (PPC) ads:
Highly targetable: You can fine-tune your audience to reach only those people falling within your preferred demographics, such as age, location, marital status, gender, or income level.
Increased brand exposure: Consider that Google processes about 40,000 search queries every second and is used by about 4 billion users worldwide. By using Google Ads, your brand gains enormous exposure. (9)
High customisability: PPC ads give you complete control over every aspect, from cost per click, seasonality, demographics, and creative content. Additionally, you can run multiple campaigns simultaneously to boost your reach.
Fast results: While SEO takes months and sometimes years to increase traffic to your site, PPC works instantly. You can launch a website today, launch a PPC campaign and attract huge traffic within the same day.
Measurable results: Most PPC networks provide sophisticated analytics to allow you to gauge the performance of your campaigns. You can even generate automatic reports to help you make meaningful conclusions.
As a farmer, you wouldn't want to lag while every other business is undergoing digital transformation. Going digital is more of a necessity than a luxury, given the current state of world affairs.
If you stick to outdated ways of doing business, it could affect your sales. So, consider digitising your agriculture business online. Are you going to digitise your business?
1. "Digital business transformation - Article by Prof. Wade"