New app designed to make it easier to source inputs

Canadian grain, pulse and oilseed farmers now have access to a new digital platform that will allow them to place orders for a variety of crop inputs including seed, fertilizer, chemicals, micronutrients, inoculants and fungicides, to name just a few.

Agro.Club is a new e-commerce site that allows farmers to search for products and place orders on-line using a computer or a cellphone.

The Agro.Club platform is well-established in the Black Sea region where more than 10,000 farmers have registered as users.

Agro.Club Canada, which was launched recently, aims to change how Canadian farmers do business and source crop input products, says Agro.Club Canada’s managing director, Neil Arbuckle.

Essentially, the goal of the on-line platform is to allow farmers to source the products they need more simply, quickly and efficiently, Arbuckle said.

“Our goal is to bring efficiency to the ag sector, whether that be in crop inputs, grain transactions, equipment sales, services to farmers and so one,” Arbuckle said.

“Anything that a farmer needs to run their farm operation, we see an opportunity to partner with organizations that supply those goods and services on our platform.”

In a recent interview with The Western Producer, Arbuckle acknowledged that e-commerce platforms designed for farmers are becoming more numerous.

In part, that’s why the Agro.Club Canada platform has the potential to become an attractive option for busy farmers who prefer online transactions but don’t have the time to visit dozens of different websites or place individual orders for every input that’s needed.

In time, as input manufacturers and retailers join the platform, Agro.Club Canada will become a one-stop electronic marketplace that saves the farmer time and money and allows retailers and input companies to reach their market more efficiently.

“We want to give the whole industry a more efficient way of doing business digitally,” said Arbuckle.

“We envision a future where farmers will want to have not 20 apps on their phone to conduct business but probably two or three — and we’d like to be one of those that houses a host of partners that have chosen to join us and deliver services and products to farmers.”

Building a flexible online ecosystem that involves trusted companies and supports existing partnerships between manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and customers is “key to helping the Canadian ag industry take a huge digital step forward,” the company said in a news release.

Farmers can view the Agro.Club site at canada.agro.club.

But Arbuckle concedes that there is plenty of work to be done before the concept reaches its full potential.

Farmers can use the site free of charge. There are no subscription or membership fees for visitors who buy products. Manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers that choose to use the site are required to pay a service fee.

Arbuckle said Canadian seed distribution company Canterra Seeds has already signed on as a platform user.

Arbuckle said he hopes to have at least two or three major input partners join the platform soon.

David Hansen, chief executive officer and president of Canterra Seeds, called the decision to work with Agro.Club a “digital step forward” for his company.

“Until Agro.Club entered the market, the options were scarce,” Hansen said.

“We could build an IT solution on our own, go with an e-commerce partner or sit back and do nothing. With Agro.Club, we were able to get online quickly with a partner that knows the industry and shares our commitment to partner with retailers and farmers.”

The Agro.Club platform also appeals to retailers and independent farm suppliers who want to work to digitize their own businesses, Arbuckle said.

Farmers who use the Agro.Club platform to place their online Canterra Seed orders by Dec. 15 will get 50 percent of their rebates before they seed next year’s crop.

Initially, Agro.Club Canada will focus on attracting partners in the ag input sector, Arbuckle said.

But in time, the platform could be expanded to include a wider range of products and services including farm machinery manufacturers, grain buyers and ag service providers, he said.

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