In 2014, when Agriconomie was created by three farmers’ sons, no one had any idea of the impact the company would have on the agricultural sector. The first website dedicated to the needs of farmers, it now offers all the products necessary for a farm: fertilizers, seeds, animal nutrition, equipment, and spare parts. Thanks to Agriconomie, farmers were finally able to obtain their supplies online with total price transparency—a revolution at the time!
Over the years, the company has enjoyed success and growth based on their ability to respond to the specific needs of farmers. This is not surprising when you consider that the company’s founders came from the agricultural sector. Confronted with the difficulties of farming since their earliest childhood, they are aware of the many problems faced by farmers. These include the sustainability of operations, the competitive environment, the economic crisis, and price transparency.
The Transparency Bias
Price transparency is an issue to which Agriconomie has responded since its creation. Every year, farmers anticipate buying the products they need to work several months in advance. The problem is that prices depend on a large number of criteria and vary enormously throughout the year. It was impossible for farmers to know exactly how much they were going to spend and how they were going to budget. Agriconomie allowed them to access this information in real time. “With this proposal, we have become a barometer to which many farmers refer,” confirms David Horain, CMO & CDO of Agriconomie. “This gives them information on product prices and enables them to compare, negotiate, and inform themselves—without necessarily ordering.”
Saving Time and Money
At the same time, the company has developed and diversified its range of agricultural products. By betting on e-commerce, Agriconomie wants to save time for its customers. Its promise? Buy quickly, more easily, at the best price. The company ensures that each farmer saves up to 96 hours and up to 5,000 Euros per year. Today, between 250,000 and 350,000 Internet users order and/or find out about price trends via Agriconomie.
The Need for an Excellent Customer Experience
Contrary to what you might think, farmers are very connected. They use many tools for their business, such as for following the weather, for example, or consulting market information. Agriconomie has therefore become part of this digital dynamic to meet their needs. But they had yet to be delivered a relevant and personalized digital experience. “We travel very little to our customers—and yet we maintain a regular and quality relationship with them,” says David Horain, CMO & CDO of Agriconomie. “We know how important human contact is for farmers.” But then how do you satisfy them digitally? Through customer data and their fair use.
Collecting, Storing, and Structuring Customer Data
“The basis of a great online customer experience is customer knowledge,” says David Horain, and this is where the data come in. “This information must be collected, available, and easily readable by the teams in contact with customers in order to best prepare discussions and exchanges with them, regardless of the channel,” explains David Horain.
Agriconomie quickly realised they cannot enjoy true customer knowledge and insight without the right CRM system. Agriconomie understood that from the beginning. To meet this challenge, the company has relied on the Synolia/SugarCRM duo. “We have chosen a CRM solution that allows us to escalate the data, to enhance it and deliver it efficiently in order to respond to our specific problems as they arise,” says David Horain. So, at the beginning of 2016, Agriconomie called upon Synolia to set up SugarCRM. The ergonomics, intuitiveness, and scalability of the tool particularly appealed to the teams.
“We also wanted to have real autonomy over the solution so that we could evolve by ourselves afterwards,” says David Horain. This has been possible with Sugar and Elite French Partner Synolia, which has supported Agriconomie on the implementation of the platform and its use. “Synolia have been instrumental in transferring skills and training the teams. Their assistance in getting started was invaluable.”
Aggregating Customer Data
With Sugar, Agriconomie intended first of all to collect a large amount of information about its customers. To achieve this, it has implemented a funnel system that allows the company’s teams to first retrieve information and then define a precise profile in order to respond precisely to these needs. “There are several types of farmers, such as cereal farmers, livestock farmers, wine growers, and market gardeners. And everyone has very different issues that we need to be aware of in order to be relevant,” says David Horain.
At the very beginning of our relationship with a new farmer is the time where most data is submitted. “But most of the time, they don’t give us all the information we need. So we look for it as we talk to them by asking specific questions,” explains David Horain. “Then we add the behavioral data that come from farmers’ interactions with our channels.” Some examples of data include the surface area of the farm, type of products, location, etc.
Progressively, the Agriconomie teams are increasing the quantity and quality of data relating to their customers. All of this information is aggregated in Sugar, then structured in the tool and delivered to the teams when they need it—a significant gain in time and relevance.
Responding Precisely to Customer Needs
The next step on the way to building a complete customer profile is to begin to document and map out their challenges and to define a personalized purchasing path. By knowing them perfectly, the teams can address them in the right way and know exactly what to offer them and when. “In BtoB, purchases are based on precise needs, so products need to be adapted and advice given at the right time,” says David Horain. Thanks to the data collected and the adapted purchasing path entered into the CRM, the Agriconomie teams are able to respond perfectly to their customers’ needs.
This process also helps them to determine the level of maturity of their customers in terms of purchase and to adjust their proposals accordingly. And to be completely relevant, the Agriconomie teams are made up of agronomists, agricultural technicians, and former field advisors/experts—real connoisseurs of the environment and its problems in order to better respond to customers!
Going Further Into Customer Knowledge
While data related to farmers’ activity make it relevant and effective, behavioral data allow it to be further personalised. “In this way, we can predict the best time to contact our customer, the best time in the month but also during the day, as they are often out in the field. We also analyse the best communication channels: email, phone, text message… depending on the subject,” explains David Horain. “Our CRM allows us to store and deliver this indispensable data!”.
The Problem of Retention
Thanks to SugarCRM, Agriconomie knows its customers perfectly and provides them with a personalized and adapted experience. The benefits are obvious: better conversion rates, increased average basket size, improved overall business performance, customer satisfaction and, most importantly, creating customer loyalty. Given the limited number of customers and prospects in the agricultural sector, the issue of customer retention is particularly important. “We absolutely have to take care of our customers to keep them because we won’t be able to find them forever,” confirms David Horain. “Retention is necessary in this sector and it requires a balance between good data exploitation and in-depth knowledge of the operators.” An ambition made possible thanks to SugarCRM!
A CRM at the Heart of a Company
“From the very beginning, we wanted our CRM to accompany our growth and be at the heart of our development! Our site is the face that the public sees, but our CRM is the heart of the company around which the whole business revolves,” says David Horain.Thanks to Synolia, the tool was deployed and operational in just a few months. “We had a lot of ideas and Synolia helped us streamline them to find what we really needed to get started. Together, we have conducted a realistic and immediately operational project.” In the implementation of the project, the adoption of Sugar was also a central concern. “It had to be easily accessible to the whole company. Adoption was paramount because CRM can be great but if it’s not used by the teams, it’s useless.” Today, all the teams at Agriconomie have adopted Sugar and have understood the benefits. A tool that evolves as the company grows in order to keep improving the response to customers’ needs. Evidence of a successful project!