Farm Compare, a unique concept-based business started by husband and wife Oliver and Karen McDonald in County Armagh, Northern Ireland is creating ripples across the business world. Acting as a bridge between the farmers and the machinery they need for their farms, Farm Compare has turned the tables completely in the farmer’s favor.
We spoke to Karen McDonald, Co-Founder and Operations Lead at Farm Compare to know how she identifies opportunities, creates brand awareness, and strives to do what’s best for the organization.
Offering transparency. Creating opportunities
Karen McDonald: “Established in late 2019, Farm Compare profiles the manufacturer’s entire product portfolio thereby giving the farmer all the options to find what is right for them and their farm. Its purpose is to help farmers search and compare products in minutes by making useful information transparent, fast to find, and traders easy to reach. Farm Compare has three customer segments:
1) Manufacturers advertise their products on farmcompare.com.
2) Dealer/distributors/sellers are matched by geo-location with sales enquiries.
3) Farmers submit sales enquires.
We work with local, national, and international brands, including KEENAN Alltech, Major Equipment, smaXtec, Erth Engineering, Dairymaster, Ag-drive & Slurryquip. It has one location in Northern Ireland.”
A comparison that enables
Karen McDonald: “We all know the many benefits of comparison shopping. More choice, useful customer reviews, you don’t miss out on discounts, plus it’s convenient. All the information you need is in one place. Now every bit of this convenience is being brought to farmers through farmcompare.com. We’re not about price comparison, it’s about bringing all the options to farmers in one place. Buying agricultural equipment has not been straightforward for farmers. We know this first-hand. The agricultural industry is progressive and innovative. There’s so much choice, and the information you get can be incomplete, vague, and confusing. Plus there’s so much of it. Farm Compare simplifies the buying experience by providing everything farmers need to know on one website. Simply search what you’re looking for, compare the options, and we connect you with the sellers.”
A business model that stands apart
Karen McDonald: “Farm Compare’s business model is a recurring monthly advertising subscription. Launching the site initially we focused on farm machinery and have since widened this product portfolio to include anything the farmer is sourcing, including farming software, animal nutritional products to regenerative farming products. The main contributor to the company’s growth and success has been the feedback of our audience. If we are not delivering for the farmer, the seller, and the manufacturers then we are not performing. We take a research, test, evaluate and implement style of strategy; and that has contributed to our success to date. The team has a growth mindset which is essential in an ever-changing and innovative industry and our vision is to bring these innovations to every farmyard.”
Empowering farming solutions
Karen McDonald: “Farm Compare is positively disrupting the existing supply-chain and the farming community is one of the fasting growing industries to adapt to technology in all aspects of their lives and we see this from our user demographics. Farm Compare’s value proposition does not exclude anyone from the time-honored practices when souring new Agri products/services. We have built our model around it. We bring efficiencies to the farmers, who are time-poor by saving them time, stress, and hassle when sourcing new products. Farm Compare is a fully online solution for the farmers to source products and services while offering sellers and manufacturers a new and highly cost-effective route to market.“
Business, risks, and trends
Karen McDonald: “The key trends we are seeing is that farmers trust farmers and want to hear about their experience and that’s a key part of the content the Farm Compare platform delivers. It’s a marketplace platform that delivers transparent information in an easily digestible manner and connect them with the seller. We see this growth continuing, as a population, we are continuing to demand our information quicker and easier and we don’t see this changing for the agriculture industry who are time poor and needing to be more efficient to maintain and improve the bottom line. The key risk factor for any business is competition regardless of their industry and as a company, we closely monitor both direct and indirect competition. Social media platforms have given lay people the tools to be digital marketers, this type of indirect competition can serve a business well, but for long-term sustainability and growth a business needs a full funnels approach to their marketing and that is why the high calibre of the digital and tech team at Farm Compare will sustain the company’s competency.”
Always finding a way out
Karen McDonald: “Covid-19 had a huge impact on our business as 2020 was the start of farmcompare.com, having initially launched at the backend of 2019. The tech team took the time to dig deep into the user journey to see how we can add value to the value proposition which resulted in a phased update to the site as well as a launch into the GB market. In terms of the lockdown period which came early in 2020, it meant the team was not able to be on the farm creating content which is key for business as well as onboarding new manufacturers with cancelled trade shows and scaled-back in-person meetings. On a positive note, with the quick adoption of many people to video calls, we were able to onboard new clients which also resulted in time and cost savings of not having to travel to meetings across the country.”
Growth is the future
Karen McDonald: “Growing our product portfolio is key to continuing to offer the farmer variety and options. Growing our audience goes hand in hand with this. We currently target the UK and Ireland and are looking forward to expanding this as we grow. The brands advertising with us trade internationally and we look forward to expanding into new countries and working with their expanded seller network.”