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The same digital technology revolutionizing crop production is now enabling seed dealers to navigate in an increasingly complex seed marketplace, streamline and simplify their business processes – and to grow.

The complexity of today's retail seed business is driven by the proliferation of stock-keeping units (SKUs); product changes from year to year; inventory management; the increasing value of a bag of seed; the requirements around how orders are taken at the grower level; how zone pricing is managed; and government requirements to report grower point-of-sale and have growers licensed.

According to Tray Thomas with Context, a business management and strategy consulting firm providing services to the world's leading agriculture, biotechnology and food companies, retailers who have the capacity to help farmers with active information-gathering and evaluation of alternatives have a critical influence on purchasing decisions.

In the June 2011 Seed World, Thomas reported that, "the culture of ‘value' is changing the interaction in seed and the result will be a further proliferation of available products. SKU management will be paramount," warns Thomas. "The ability to administer this and mitigate inventory risk is increasingly a factor in seed retailing success."

Digital technology has the capacity to simplify the retail seed business because it can help to ensure more timely information and a more accurate inventory. The level of professionalism seed dealers can demonstrate to farmers is elevated. Trust is enhanced. Farmers know that when they call their seed dealer, they will be aware of and have accurate inventory counts and be able to provide them with the product they need when they need it.

Being able to track where seed was sold and planted is where our industry is headed. Digital technologies will help track and trace product through the distribution channel and eventually down to the acre, enabling seed stewardship and sustainability to protect our business investments.

Digital technology also enables growers to have a higher degree of trust and confidence in the bill they get at retail. This will gain importance as farms continue to grow in size and purchasing decisions become more sophisticated. According to Western Farm Press, for example, as of 2009, farms with incomes of more than $1 million accounted for 60 percent of total farm sales and numbered only about 57,000, or approximately the capacity of Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Ultimately, growers are looking for more and better information to ensure that products are planted where intended, at the right price, and that billing is handled in a timely and accurate manner. They are also seeing how digital technology is transforming their own operation and other aspects of their consumer lives. And, increasingly they are demanding this same level of digital sophistication from their suppliers. Monsanto eSolutions can help with a suite of tools including MyMonsanto®, SeedTrak® and bar code scanning, and Monsanto eConnectivity that enable more time for selling, require less time for managing paperwork, help you run a more professional seed business and give you more time with your family.