Online purchases of crop inputs are growing faster than expected, says the company with the world’s largest network of bricks-and-mortar crop input retail locations.

Nutrien says total sales through its e-commerce platform surpassed $700 million in the first six months of 2020, exceeding the company’s target of $500 million for the entire year.

“Our digital platform continues to exceed expectations. We now expect to reach $1 billion in online orders by the end of the year and are introducing new data-driven offerings to help farmers make quicker and more informed decisions for their business,” noted Chuck Magro, Nutrien’s president and CEO, in the company’s second quarter earnings report, published on Monday.

Back in May, the company said online sales had exceeded $170 million in the U.S. in the first quarter, up from $3 million during the same timeframe in 2019.

For products that were available online for North American farmers, 45 per cent of Nutrien’s second quarter sales of those products were made online, says the company.

However, Nutrien does not say to what extent COVID-19 mitigation measures may have influenced higher online sales, as in-person visits to retail locations were limited or discouraged.

The company also doesn’t say how it defines a digital sale versus a non-digital sale, and how many of the online orders were entered by customers versus employees on behalf of a customer.

Nutrien, formed through the merger of Agrium and PotashCorp in 2018, reported net earnings of $765 million in the second quarter, led by record retail earnings (EBIDTA), which were up 20 per cent year-over-year for the first six months of the year.

Nutrien’s earnings update comes a week after Farmers Business Network — a competitor in the online crop input market — announced it had completed a $250 million round of investment funding.

 

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