The global seed market accounted for $23.65 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $55.3 billion by 2022, at CAGR of 11.2%. The numbers can only grow from here with the kind of demand that exists for quality seeds in the market. 

E-commerce has certainly influenced most industries today and not surprisingly; this is true for Seed Industry as well. In this article, we will look at how e-commerce and e-commerce ERP integration can help you overcome the challenges of the industry. 

1) The seasonality of consumer demand

One of the biggest challenges in the seed industry is the seasonality of the demand, which not only varies with the season but also with the geo-demographic variances. With seasonality come challenges like maintaining the cash flow, resource utilization, forecasting market demand, and more.

With e-commerce

An e-commerce store can help businesses understand fluctuations in demand over time (with the analytics it can lend to the business owner), conduct seasonal /pre-seasonal surveys to strategize and align marketing and sales efforts; reach a wider audience to counter the seasonality of demand and more.

With integration (ERP and E-commerce)

The benefits do not end with e-commerce. E-commerce and ERP integration can further add to the benefits by centralizing the data from two most important channels at a central location. The centralized data lends a lot more detailed and a holistic perspective to the exercise thereby leading to a more definite and actionable insight.

Moreover, with you reaching out to a wider audience with your e-commerce store, ERP and E-commerce integration also enable you to personalize the consumer shopping experience by offering a customer specific pricing from their ERP system to the e-commerce system. 

2) Reduced shelf life of products

Seeds are perishable items and companies have limited time to move their inventory while dealing with the changeable prices of seeds.

With e-commerce

Having multiple channels of sale can help businesses churn inventory at a much faster rate. A robust e-commerce system can help businesses gain deeper and wider market penetration capabilities, both domestic and international. Additionally, the e-commerce store can be further integrated with online marketplaces to give you the additional support and push you need.

With integration (ERP and E-commerce)

Integrating sales happening over multiple channels, the last thing you want is to increase the operational overheads. E-commerce and ERP integration can help you drastically reduce the overheads by automating and streamlining order sync from e-commerce to ERP (for fulfillment). Orders can thus be fulfilled much faster effectively pushing out perishable products well ahead of time in an organized manner (minimizing the order aging).

This not only leads to better utilization and management of inventory but also improves customer experience by keeping customers informed about their order status in near real time basis. 

3) What about B2B customers?

B2B customers today demand the same convenience and experience as their B2C counterparts. If you are a seed distributor and still relying on your traditional sales channels alone then you might very soon find yourself losing customers to the competition.

With e-commerce

A feature rich e-commerce store can very easily help you bring your B2B customers, the distributors, and retailers, into its ecosystem thus doing away with the necessity of having storages/inventories maintained at various levels of the supply chain. Further, you can leverage the B2B features of the store to streamline and enhance their purchase experience

  • Salesperson

Armed with this, you can not only manage your sales representatives better but also double up your e-commerce store as a sales portal to help them make fast and informed sales decisions.

  • Sales quote

With the flexibility to raise, review and approve quotes online, the quote to order cycle can be drastically reduced while of course positively influencing customer loyalty and experience.

With integration (ERP and E-commerce)

Integrating your e-commerce and ERP system can further add to the benefits of the e-commerce store. Consider this: in a traditional business environment, sales representatives often need access to information to close deals faster. Most of this information usually resides in the business's backend ERP system which, in most cases, is not accessible to sales representatives on the field. With e-commerce and ERP integration your sales representatives can now access this information and close deals faster.

4) Support for marketing & promotional activities

The seed industry is constantly subject to the forces of nature, globalization, and socio-political situations. Driving marketing activities in such a volatile business environment will require a strategic marketing platform that can quickly pass business insights to your customers and close a potential opportunity.

With e-commerce

E-commerce platforms today are packed with amazing marketing and promotional features. They include features like related products, upsell, cross-sell, promotional pricing, coupons and more advanced features like segmentation, targeted promotions, private sales, and more.

These tools can help businesses easily reach their target customers and increase sales directly from the platform. What’s more, the e-commerce platform can also be extended to work with advanced marketing automation tools/ extensions for a more controlled and automated experience.

With integration (ERP and E-commerce)

E-commerce, ERP, and CRM integration can further help businesses streamline their entire marketing efforts by centralizing all customer related information. Additionally, advanced insights and analytics can be drawn out and marketing strategies revisited, making them more current and effective.

5) Customer experience, service, and support

While product information is the backbone of any business, its importance cannot be emphasized enough for the seed industry. Businesses in seed industry have to present a lot of information, in multiple formats, to educate their customers and help them make an informed decision. How and what information you provide can greatly impact your customer experience and sales.

This also extends to the availability of inventory, the status of order, return and refund related information etc. Businesses also have to ensure that they effectively control the customer service and support aspects of the business as it can affect customer loyalty and ongoing business.

With e-commerce

An e-commerce store can very effectively leverage its content management system to deliver the different type of content (text, images, videos, etc.) to consumers to help them make an informed decision. This, other than serving as an on-demand knowledge base, can also serve as a virtual support and marketing resource.

An e-commerce system can bring in transparency by ensuring availability of updated product and inventory information, order, and customer information to your customers anytime and anywhere. This converts your e-commerce store to a self-service customer portal that will free up your resource’s valuable time from routine activities and let them focus on delivering more value to customers.

With integration (ERP and E-commerce)

Integrating systems (E-commerce, ERP, and CRM) improves customer experiences by centralizing related information, which was earlier locked in multiple disconnected systems.

Conclusion

E-commerce is fast becoming the preferred way of doing business and with technology and customer expectations changing fast, integration can help the business operate effectively and efficiently. But a word of caution, fuelled by the urge to take off first, most businesses end up adopting wrong systems which then end up becoming a burden.