Retailers who support the agricultural community provide a vital service. They deliver a range of goods that are key to growing success; the best will often form a consultative relationship with their clients, keeping them advised of key trends and developments in agriculture.
In a competitive and fast-growing marketplace, retailers who tap into the latest agricultural technologies (or "ag-tech") can have a decided edge. Those who are knowledgeable about ag-tech products can increase the breadth of their offerings, while also deepening their client relationships.
Which Retailers Are Best Suited To Provide Ag-Tech?
While some ag-tech products are sold through cannabis stores, most will be sold via hydroponics and gardening supply stores. There are over 2,400 retail outlets reaching across the United States, representing a $690 million industry. These stores typically sell hydroponic systems and equipment, as well as nutrients and other treatments. They also provide hardware, tools, and other accessories.
Many stores go even deeper in their support of the growing process. They may provide clients with horticultural systems, pumps, filters and other components. They also sell grow lights and accessories, ventilation systems, air purifiers, and other climate control equipment.
Those seeking to offer a full suite of services may choose to include agricultural technology among their offerings, as a way to further help their customers achieve greater yields at a lower cost, with less effort.
As in practically every other commercial sector, technological developments have transformed agriculture in recent years. Farmers who have personally witnessed the power of apps and other personal technologies intrinsically understand the potential for technology to drive efficient processes, to simplify life by allowing remote and automated management of a range of routine tasks.
As growers, they are counting on technology to deliver these same benefits. Retailers who embrace that opportunity can deliver a valuable service to their clients while also potential new revenue streams for themselves.
Which Ag-Tech Tools Should Retailers Consider?
For those who serve the fast-growing cannabis sector, a number of emerging systems offer powerful tools to enhance farming.
Monitoring systems apply a range of sensors to the agricultural setup, offering an automated means for the grower to track environmental variables such as heat, light, humidity, and soil conditions. In turn, these sensors can report via a mobile app to the grower , who can monitor field and crop conditions without having to be physically present.
Such systems also may include integrated controls that allow the grower to automate routine acts such as irrigation and nutrient dosing. By putting these activities on a set schedule, the grower can simplify the agricultural process while also achieving an important level of consistency in the growing process.
All of this can be done via a smartphone app, thus delivering the same kind of convenience and simplicity farmers have become used to in their personal lives.
Retailers who embrace these technologies can deepen their relationships with their clients. Ideally, an agricultural retailer will do more than sell sprinkler heads and fertilizer. For long-term success, the retailer will want to cultivate a consultative relationship with the grower, to become a source of inside knowledge, able to share information on industry trends. An investment in ag-tech can help the retailer to attain and preserve that valuable position.
Look for companies that are committed to their dealer partners and to the customers they support. They should offer channel tools and programs and have the resources to support retailer opportunity and growth. The best companies also will be fanatical about support, with experts readily available to assist on a range of technical and business considerations.
Retailers moving in this direction should carry products from vendors whose offerings include an educational component. Just as the retailer seeks to educate the grower, the ag-tech supplier should be ready and able to educate the retailer, offer the latest information, and help deepen the retailer’s understanding.
Such a relationship will help the retailer to deliver the best possible products, service, and advice to the grower. The net result will be better grow outcomes on the farm, and a stronger long-term relationship between retailer and its customer base. For the retailer looking to gain a foothold in the growing cannabis market, or to expand on an already successful base, ag-tech can be the key ingredient that ties it all together.