Elders leading the way in digital agriculture

Elders is rapidly developing its digital services offering as farmers increasingly look online for a range of business and information services.

It’s all part of Elders’ 2020 eight point business plan, where digital and technical services is nominated as a growth area for the business.

The Elders digital team, headed by Michael Hall, is wasting no time bringing the plan to life.

The company’s new website was launched in October last year, followed by the release of a grain trading app. This year, the Red Notebook app and Elders Weather app and website have been updated.

Mr Hall said the updates to the Red Notebook app had been very successful.

He described it as their portal app, linking together a range of Elders digital services in one place.

“It’s a great tool for clients to be able to connect with Elders and do business, whether that’s checking in to livestock trading, weather or grain prices, listening to market reports or logging in to Elders Online to check their trading,” he said.

The original Red Notebook app was a simple digital version of the iconic back pocket notebook from Elders.

Although basic, the Red Notebook app quickly became popular and it is now used by more than 25,000 Elders clients and staff.

Mr Hall said the changes were driven by feedback from clients and Elders branch staff about the kinds of information and connectivity they would value in the app.

“The Elders Red Notebook app is constantly evolving and new features are being added based on feedback from Elders clients and staff,” he said.

“The branch network is a very important part of our development process because we are essentially a support service for them.”

The digital team also uses Elders Insiders, an online community of around 1500 staff, clients and suppliers, to gauge interest in new digital tools and make changes to their online offers.

Unlike traditional research focus groups, Elders Insiders allows the digital team to get answers from their key stakeholders in real time. It has enabled Elders to not only ensure their development meets client needs, but get updates completed much more quickly than in the past.

“We established Elders Insiders around 12 months ago and consult with them regularly on a range of ideas and initiatives,” he said.

“For example, our Insiders were instrumental in the development of the Elders Grain app, which is making grain trading faster and easier for growers.”

Historically, Elders delivered grain price updates to clients via text messaging. The new Elders Grain app delivers price updates instantly through push notifications following registration.

“This is making it easier for customers to manage their grain trading with Elders,” said Mr Hall.

The very popular Elders Weather service has also received some attention recently, with new functionality added to the app and an updated website. There are now close to 60,000 Elders Weather app users.

“We have started offering a silver service for an annual subscription of $2.99 with added extras such as longer range weather forecasts, rain intensity, delta T information and the ability to customise your view of the weather,” he said.

Other digital services, such as the Elders Online portal for clients and Livestock Online are helping Elders work more closely with its clients.

“We’re getting good feedback from Elders branches where clients are moving towards Elders Online to manage their business with us electronically rather than receiving paper accounts each month,” he said.

“Livestock Online is giving our agents another option to explore when talking with clients about sales. They can choose to list their stock online or even arrange an online auction process.”

Mr Hall said Elders also has long-term digital and technical services projects in the pipeline.

“The delivery of our new websites, Livestock Online, our range of apps, the creation of the Elders Insiders community and the Elders Online client portal have been the initial steps in delivering on our growth strategy,” he said.

“Over the longer term, we’re working on a project that will assist clients in consolidating the data they are getting from a range of sources, such as from drones, satellite imagery, weather data, moisture probes and so on, so that it can be interpreted in a meaningful way.

“It’s important to us to provide clients with these types of industry leading, innovative initiatives that will help them increase their productivity into the future.”