Growing your business online

ATLAS portal helps retail-owners build dynamic external sites

River Valley Cooperative ATLAS Example

When River Valley Cooperative created its website using the Land O’Lakes’ ATLAS® web portal, the goal was to give its customers a way to access information anytime they wanted.
"The ability to digitally interface with customers in a more real-time manner is a must," says Andy Rash, vice president of sales and marketing for the co-op that provides agronomy, grain, feed and energy to livestock producers and grain farmers in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. "For River Valley to remain a leader in services, you also have to provide access to decision-making information and customer/provider interaction digitally. This relevancy will allow us to create customers we wouldn't have had access to otherwise, and keep customers that we work with today that are on a journey of growth.”
The ATLAS web portal furnishes retail-owners with a complete digital brand experience tailoring data, insights as well as news and weather information to their farmers. It’s also a key component of our comprehensive e-business strategy.
With help from Land O’Lakes’ marketing and information specialists, retail-owners can build a dynamic external site with a modern design that’s mobile responsive, provides web analytics and is equipped with digital and social marketing capabilities.
All of WinField United’s personalized, data-backed solutions and field-level insights—Answer Plot®, R7® Tool, R7® Field Forecasting®, Answer Tech® and NutriSolutions 360®—are accessible through the ATLAS portal.
“The base standard today is to modernize your business for growers to be able to log in and do business with you when they want to,” says Joel Wipperfurth, director of e-business for WinField United. ATLAS, according to Wipperfurth, helps retail-owners build a much-need presence for their brand “in the ether,” far beyond the side of a pickup truck or building.
“Low-brand awareness and lack of stickiness are the telltale signs of an industry ready for disruption,” Wipperfurth says. “That’s why it’s so important for people to have their local brand not only out there in social media and email campaigns, but have their website be something people can come to and do business easily.”

How it started

Teddy Bekele, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Land O’Lakes, began brainstorming with his team ways to quickly send farmers WinField United’s valuable ag-tech data and insights such as tissue samples, crop models and satellite images of their crops.
“We looked to see how we could bring these insights down to the grower level in an easily consumable fashion online using a computer, phone or tablet,” says Bekele.
At the same time, Bekele says retail-owners were telling Land O’Lakes that their customers were searching their websites for such information as phone numbers, addresses, and grain prices.
ATLAS provides both, helping retail-owners become expert sellers, Wipperfurth says, by giving them the tools to be more efficient for their growers with in-season decisions.
The WinField Data Silo powers ATLAS with insights.The cloud-based application developed by Land O’Lakes’ WinField United brand, helps farmers make better, data-driven decisions. It allows connectivity of farmer’s field data with the decision and precision ag tools available on
Data Silo is a data collection application that ingests, stores and shares information between farmers, retailers, and third-party providers. It connects previously disparate systems, letting users quickly share information about crops and farm operations. With it, farmers can easily upload data to the platform, build dashboards and search for information. In return, they receive guidance on agronomic best practices, such as which crop to grow in a particular field while maintaining control over who owns and accesses the data.
“Being able to send a grower a note, then being able to have that grower transact business at 11 p.m. because that’s when they had time to look at their tissue sample, is important,” Bekele says. “That’s one of the things we’re trying to enable sellers to do.”
Bekele says WinField United is in the process of piloting—with the plan of rolling out more of it this year—the ability to submit orders and purchase products online from an ATLAS website.
“Maybe that farmer has sat down with their agronomist and figured out what it is they need to apply for their operation,” he explains. “They can digitally pull that together and submit the order and track it going forward. Or it can be an order on the fly.”
When ATLAS builds a website for a retail-owner, including assisting in marketing campaigns and setting up the online store, it can track the grower’s path through communications sent out. But, if somebody uses a different web system, Wipperfurth says they lose the ability to know the customer’s full presence.
“There’s some real synergy when you’re transacting all of those sequences on the platform,” he says. “Being able to provide some traceability of the customers’ journey allows you to get better at giving them relevant content when they want it. If you’re not working inside the system, you’ve got blind spots.”
Bekele says each retail-owner can customize their website to their liking, such as adding videos, widgets, anything unique to how they want to interact with their farmers. Some do blogs, Facebook notifications, even podcasts.
“A couple of them do (podcasts), and they’re good because they connect at a very local level,” Bekele says.
The websites can be viewed easily on smartphones. “It resizes (the page) correctly and makes sure you have a good experience there,” he says.
They are currently working on a mobile app for both iOS and Android. “It will bring you the same experience as a web page, but sometimes people like to interact with apps rather than web pages,” he says. “We want to give farmers the ability to use either.”
Craig Patty, regional sales manager for River Valley whose responsibilities include managing the co-op’s digital and technology platform, agrees with Rash that the River Valley website is a work in progress.
River Valley was one of the first to jump into the ATLAS pilot process.
“The process has not been without some setbacks,” Patty says. “Some are self-inflicted by shifting priorities. Like everything else with technology, you think you have things figured out, then two or three things pop up. We’re on our way, and the team at Land O’Lakes has helped.”
To learn more about ATLAS web portal, contact your local Land O’Lakes digital technology manager or sales representative.