Let’s Work together to Bring the Animal Feed Industry Into The 21st Century!
I started FeedsForLess.com After years of Frustration about how the Feed Industry still was going to market much the same way they have well since the industry was created, besides maybe email and Texting. I am an avid e-commerce (mostly Amazon) shopper and I buy things all the time I wish I could Touch, Feel and See in Person But due to the ease and low cost as well as enormous selection I choose to Buy a lot online. This made me think...Why in the World Can we not sell and buy and research Feeds online!? I mean They are mostly known commodities that we do not need to see, feel and touch, perfect for e-commerce, Right? Myself having been a Feed Mill Nutritionist, Independent Nutritionist and Large Dairy Farm Manager, I knew the issues and frustrations on all sides and knew it would be very beneficial to Feed manufactures and Farmers alike. I know most Nutritionist spend 40-60% of their time doing anything but what we like to do! We spend a gross amount of Time getting prices, credit applications, tax forms and Feed Information to Farmers and back to the Mill repeatedly. These tasks, while necessary and not fun for any of us and do not themselves create value, they often even create a lot of friction in the buying process, making it a real pain for a farmer to shop around or change vendors. Most Farmers, Nutritionist’s and feed Manufactures Just Think “well that's the Business, nothing we can do about it but get back to the 67 emails and texts that I need to do to keep everything on track”. Good News, there is a better way! It’s this thing called the Internet and like it works, I know even for selling 30 tons of Corn Meal or three pallets of Milk replacer or even 2 bags of dog food, point is it doesn’t matter it can all be sold online. (All industries tend to think their product is too complicated to be able to "just" sell it online like T-Shirts or something). But a closer look into computer technology and Good Algorithms, would suggest the reality is that this is well within todays technological capabilities. So, when I came to this conclusion I said well okay if its such a good idea and would bring value to buyers and sellers why hasn’t it been done? I then Decided to create an online survey, so I could gauge if Farmers would use it, my results did not surprise me all that much... When asked would you buy feed for you farm online? Only 23% say yes. I followed That with Would You use a free website where you could research, compare and Buy thousands of feeds online from multiple different vendors with no registration or credit app required? 86% of farmers responded Yes, 9% Likely and 5% No. That’s what I Thought farmers want those frustrations and limits on information to be changed but thought that “there was to much money in the way it’s being done now”. Another question How Do you feel about the Feed Industry? 1)I love it Just the way it is! 2) Its okay, but needs some serious updating 3)I Hate It, I don’t trust anyone in the industry! Question 1 got only 3% Question 2 Got a Healthy 62% and Question 3 Got 35% (I think we may Have a real customer satisfaction issue on our hands!). When I talked to Feed Mills at first, I heard a lot of no thanks farmers won’t buy anything online and besides our sales are great and we don’t need any new sales channels! (side not one of my survey questions was do you buy anything online? 88% of farmers avg. age 62 have bought something online for their farms!) This is a mistake that happens over and over in business, is the assumption of current sales=Customer satisfaction, For example sales of cable TV Packages where fantastic for year after year and due to high costs of startup and most Competitors, well not really competing they got really good and making their customers really mad, but hey sales are great! So, who cares right? Well the second These Customers could get their entertainment elsewhere and become “Cable cutter’s” and sales have been diving ever since! Point is don’t fall for sales= Our Customers Love us (You May be Just the better of the bad) that is no recipe for long term success. Maybe a better strategy would be to find a way to improve your customers relationship with your mill and at the same time become more efficient. Most Mills More or less have the same strategy and that is to of course offer high quality feeds but custom to your needs and develop a relationship with the nutritionist so no matter how bad the farmer hates the mill they will not want to leave their friend and trusted consultant, and focus on strategic relatively small geographical areas and try to target larger farms as well as push their latest “innovation” that being another high cost feed that the farmers have little information on and normally little independent research. Now Don’t Get me Wrong I love innovative new feeds that are proven to work with independent research and I there’s nothing wrong with any company making a healthy profit from the sale of this product, Now many of you may have seen the Sign in front of many farm offices something to the effect of “WARNING every 3rd salesmen gets shot” There is a good reason for that and it could be seen in the disapproval in my survey, the Majority of farmers DO NOT CARE about the 7th Electrolyte and Probiotic product on the market that no matter what ailment is on his farm you are just sure this will cure it right up! Therefore about 98% of Cold Farm call visits do not end up in a sale, sales managers say it’s a game of numbers and attrition and sure buy that to a certain extent but if the way you go to market fails 98% of the time do you really think that is the way to keep doing it? Surly this would be a wake-up call. The Difference with Digital and e-commerce is large, instead of randomly showing up and trying to jam down very farmers thought your one fancy product in your limited time, e-commerce allows the customer to when they are interested research, compare, read reviews and see prices at no expense to you at all! They get all the information they need right when they want, about what they want, and they can be geographically anywhere and place an order while watching football on Sunday. Much like how Facebook and YouTube are the largest media Companies but do not produce any of the content, the buyers do all the work that we now have placed on dealers and sales staff and the buyers for the most part like being their own sales research person because they trust themselves more than you! This Local Mill/Dealer/Salesman Model Is holding back our industry a lot and costing us all a lot of Time and Money and I for one Think it is Time to Bring The Animal Feed Industry into the 21st Century!
Managing Partner Empire Ag LLC
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