An estimated 12.58 billion bushels are transported via truck in the United States each year.* That’s over 12 million truckloads of grain that our agricultural supply chain counts on to move grain reliably to fulfill contractual obligations and meet the needs of consumers around the world. And, considering that the average bushel of grain produced in the United States is sold 2 to 3 times before reaching its end destination*, commercial sales unsurprisingly represent a meaningful percentage of these truckloads moving cross-country.
Shipping grain via truck often comes with a lack of visibility for days at a time – and with a lack of visibility, merchandising teams face added complexity and room for margin killers to creep in.
During our most recent Buddy Seat Webinar, Bushel’s Director of Sales Enablement, Lacey Seibert, sat down with three influential voices in the grain industry to discuss different factors that can impact profitability in commercial grain sales.
- Lindsey Bowers, grain merchandiser for United Ag
- Fletcher Sunderman, merchandiser for Agriland FS
- Darren Antrim, senior manager at Scoular
Throughout the conversation on commercials sales and shipments, each panelist emphasized the importance of being able to effectively deploy their merchandising teams. Each noted that using their merchandiser’s time correctly is a critical component in keeping those silent margin killers at bay.
What could your merchandisers accomplish if they spent less time on tedious and repetitive tasks such as tracking down scale tickets or the status of sales contracts? How big of a difference would your merchandisers make if they could focus on work that adds value to your overall business strategy and builds upon relationships? Antrim was the first to address this issue directly, pointing out that without automation, merchandisers have to spend valuable time hunting for ticket information and answering questions.
As Seibert added, the merchandising role is one of the most expensive roles on the team. Instead of relying upon our merchandisers to perform administrative work (and let’s be honest, these admin tasks are a necessity for the best outcomes), let’s empower them with digital tools that offer near real-time contract balances, the ability to set customized notifications for rejected or out-of-spec loads, and the efficiency of viewing commercial sales across buyers in one, simple interface.
Cutting Back on Contract Overflows
Greater visibility into sales with counterparties provides merchandising teams with the information needed to provide near real-time decisions. As Sunderland highlighted, having access to delivery information in near-real time results in fewer contract overflows. Additionally, cutting back on contract overflows protects revenue and generates margin.
In the end, allowing for delivery tickets to be automatically accessed and updated saves time and money while reducing the chance for error.
One of the best feelings when selling grain is when a transaction is finally completed and in the books. How much greater the feeling when your merchandising is done with a holistic, profitable view based on data, rather than guesswork?
Interested in setting your commercial sales apart from what’s considered just the cost of doing business?
Learn how Bushel Fulfillment gives you near real-time access to your grain deliveries and contracts, empowering your team to make better merchandising decisions and your business more profitable.
*Corn for grain production in the U.S. 2001-2022, published by M. Shahbandeh, Jan 26, 2023. Link to statistic here.