Rajiv Kumar Aggarwal is an Indian Internet Entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of the SaaS Ecommerce Platform StoreHippo. Kumar is an industry veteran and highly skilled technologist with 20+ years of strong experience in Internet Technologies and E-Commerce. He is a results-oriented person with a remarkable capacity for innovation that has prompted path-breaking changes in the E-commerce software industry. Rajiv founded StoreHippo in 2014 with the vision to build a global SaaS product based out of India. With customers in 20+ countries and 35+ business verticals, StoreHippo is now a global brand and industry leader in D2C, B2B and B2C Ecommerce.
E-commerce is breaking down barriers and has quickly infiltrated even the most traditional industries, such as agriculture. The global Agritech industry is expected to be valued at $41,172.5 million by 2027, growing at an 18 % CAGR over the next five years. The rapid changes in the digital tech sphere have made it possible for Agritech brands to introduce innovative changes in the agricultural value chain. The evolution of digital technology now represents a new way for farmers to sell their products to a diverse range of buyers such as agribusinesses, merchants, restaurants, and consumers.
The rapid adoption of agritech is evident from the fact that over 1000 agro-based businesses operate in India alone. Cutting-edge agritech solutions are enabling farmers and agriculture-related service providers to break free from centuries-old, outdated agricultural practices and join the main-stream multi-channel markets. Agri ecommerce has not only given the farmers access to better tools to improve their harvest but also improves farmers’ access to new markets and boosts value chain transparency. It allows farmers to avoid many intermediaries, resulting in higher income, less waste, and the ability to deliver fresher produce to buyers.
Significance of ecommerce Solutions for Agriculture
While ecommerce has been credited for major disruption across industries, agriculture as a sector took its own time to embrace the technology needed for digital commerce. While Agritech startups were already changing agriculture for the better, the global pandemic accelerates the adoption of tech-driven solutions in the agriculture sector.
With the pandemic-induced disruptions, agribusinesses had to create ways to connect the farmers digitally with their end customers. On the output side, because ‘mandis’ were not running normally, digital agro commerce offered an opportunity for startups to construct platforms for farmers to sell their crops, livestock and other agro-based equipment. While Agritech firms continue to disrupt the agriculture sector, they, too, are in need of next-generation ecommerce platforms that can offer end-to-end ecommerce solutions for their unique business needs.
Ecommerce has enormous potential to alleviate various restrictions hurting the Indian agriculture sector. The potential for ecommerce disruption is significant in traditional agricultural value chains where intermediaries cut into farmers’ margins. Agritech ecommerce solutions can help eliminate intermediaries by establishing direct connections between producers and purchasers (wholesalers, retailers, and consumers). Direct contact with potential customers and high-quality storage facilities can significantly reduce post-harvest waste, particularly for perishable crops.
A New Range of Agri-Tech Solutions
Agriculture, which accounts for 20 percent of Indian GDP, requires a massive overhaul to keep up with changing market and customer demands. Farmers are benefiting from data-driven insights provided by innovative Agritech solutions for increased productivity, crop protection, sustainability, and growth. The agriculture sector also needs easy and quick market access to help Agro-producers and sellers receive a greater return on their investment.
When it comes to embracing modern technology, the agriculture sector requires customized cutting-edge Agritech solutions for different use cases of agritech busiensses. This is where ecommerce platforms aid Agritech firms in providing a wide range of Agritech solutions that can help in streamlining Agro-production, distribution, and sale.
So, what are these solutions and how effective ecommerce platforms can be when it comes to aiding Agritech brands in overcoming challenges? Let’s dive deeper.
Hyperlocal Marketplace For Faster Product Sourcing And Supply
Traditionally, taking farm produce to local mandis and waiting for right wholesale buyers used to be days long process. Also, it entailed crop wastage. With advanced ecommerce technology, hyperlocal agritech marketplaces can be set up easily. Local farmers and other agro-products can showcase their products on such marketplaces and B2B buyers can directly buy from the hyperlocal seller nearest to their location. The whole hyperlocal set-up thus streamlines and shortens the crop sales cycles while automatically reducing the time and wastage involved in taking the farm produce first to the mandi and then to the buyer location.
Managing Retail and Wholesale Business From Same Platform
Just like any other business, agriculture also needs to diversify to different B2B and B2C audience segments. However, managing both channels from different platforms can be cumbersome and resource intensive. Modern agritech solutions can help agro-based brands achieve streamlined retail and wholesale sales channels from the same marketplace platform. Different vendors on the Agritech multi-vendor marketplace can sell wholesale agro-products directly to other businesses or end buyers while the admin(s) and internal teams can have digitized sales channels. With a personal online marketplace, Agritech brands can manage both businesses from a central dashboard.
Build and Manage A Network of Ago-based Stores
The agriculture sector has a wide range of sellers, farmers, equipment suppliers etc. who come together to enable farmers in carrying out diverse agricultural activities. Bringing all such parties together on one platform and making the best seeds, fertilizers, equipment, expert services etc. available to farmers can be a complex process. However, all this can be streamlined by building multiple stores on an agritech marketplace where each of the vendors has their own store based on location/product category etc. Building a network of such stores managed by a central admin helps agritech brands cater to the demands of a wider audience. It also enables their sellers to reach more customers thus proving to be a win-win situation. Agritech brands can also build a network of stores designed for specific target markets/audience and personalize each storefront in terms of prices, language, product catalogue etc. to cater to the unique needs of given buyer segments.
Breaking the Language barrier
In a diverse country like India, language can be a major barrier to tech adoption. With the majority of farmers being proficient in local languages only, it becomes difficult to run the show using tech solutions designed in English. English-only solutions fail to ensure seamless communication between farmers, suppliers and other stakeholders. However, modern agritech solutions can do away with this limitation by offering multilingual portals and admin panels to all the stakeholders. When the stakeholders can do everyday business in their preferred language, the learning curve automatically becomes smooth and seamless and helps in faster adoption of digital tech and digitized sales channels.
Boost Sales With M-Commerce
Mobile commerce is the new ecommerce. With internet penetration and smartphone usage booming, it is time for the agriculture sector to leverage m-commerce for growth. Agritech solutions built for m-commerce can help farmers and other stakeholders do business from anywhere anytime. Agritech platforms that can offer marketplace apps, admin mobile apps, vendor apps, delivery boy apps etc. can help agro-based users in a big way. Also, PWA stores (that work even on slow internet connections and entry-level devices) for agritech brands can help greatly with the digitization of agricultural sales channels.
Building Out-of-box Agritech Solutions
The nuances of agriculture require groundbreaking, custom solutions for different use cases and business requirements of agritech brands. Advanced technologies like MACH architect and headless solutions give better creative control and flexibility to build tailor-made solutions for the unique requirements of agritech brands. Also, modern platforms with seamless integrations for chosen software and services like ERP, CRM, accounting, POS, marketing, logistics, payments etc. make it easy for agritech brands to build efficient and innovative solutions that have the potential to create a niche for the brand.
One of the biggest challenges of ecommerce, be it for agrotech brands or any other vertical, is streamlined fulfilment. However, this challenge can be handled well by agritech enabler platforms that come with built-in delivery boy solutions and pre-integrated solutions to use a variety of logistics providers. While the reputed brands can handle bulk agro-based orders, the agritech brand and its sellers can use their own fleet of delivery boys for managing local retail or wholesale orders seamlessly.
Going Beyond Geographical Boundaries
Indian agricultural products have seen a surge in demand from many international markets. However, to do business beyond borders, agritech solutions should adhere to the demands of international buyers which mainly is, speaking to them in their native language, offering them payment options in their native currency, offering multi-currency invoices, handling local taxes easily and offering seamless fulfilment using local delivery partners. Agritech solution provider ecommerce platforms that come with built-in solutions for multilingual websites, multi-currency payments, custom invoicing and a powerful tax engine can help brands meet all the above challenges and solidify their presence in global markets.
The Road Ahead
The next agricultural revolution is underway in the digital commerce space. While Agritech continues to be a fast-growing sector, it has its own set of challenges. That’s why there is a greater need for the next-generation ecommerce platform that can offer end-to-end ecommerce solutions, specifically designed to help Agritech brands meet their unique business requirements and stay ahead of the competition.
Given the need for disruption amid the ever-changing market scenario, agro-based brands will require new-age solutions like MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless) architecture to exercise more freedom when it comes to experimenting and implementing hybrid business models. Furthermore, Agritech firms can also combine two or more popular ecommerce business models like a multi-vendor marketplace, location-based stores, multilingual and B2b ecommerce among others to implement a disruptive solution.
Agrotech brands powered by future-ready ecommerce platforms can steer clear of the challenges and prepare their brand for unlocking growth like never before.