What if an origination team could take its contracting process completely online? Manage the entire lifecycle of its cash contracts in a digital experience? With advanced analytics built in to make the right business decisions easier to discover and act on?We started with these questions when building Market+ Merchandise, the foundational tool in the Market+ application. Merchandise enables merchandisers and originators to streamline their work and capture more profitable outcomes with their farmer customers, and we are excited to announce it has been officially released.
From bid creation through contracting, the process of buying and selling crops should be less complicated and more automated. Improving the crop buying process with a modern software experience – that complements and enhances existing relationships – can unlock new margin and revenue opportunities for any origination program, without disrupting existing relationships between buyers and sellers.
We first focused on digitizing the key steps in the cash crop transaction flow for the benefit of all parties involved. From there, we continued iterating on the experience of Merchandise with the most-requested features from our partner merchants, originators, advisors, farmers, and co-ops. We are excited to introduce three features that will dramatically benefit crop buyers.
1. An always-on branded storefront
Farmers want to do business with the buyers they trust. That’s why Indigo gives buyers their own private, branded storefront for their customers to explore and transact within. Merchandise becomes an extension of your business and brand, rather than a new farmer experience with an unfamiliar entity. The farmer always knows who is on the other side of the contract.
Right from their phone, tablet, or computer, farmers see a bid sheet customized to their locations. They can easily sort bids in a buyer’s storefront based on crop type, facility location, price, and futures month. Updated buyer’s bids are instantly available to farmers, ensuring they always see the most up to date prices.
Shown in image: with the ability to see a (1) buyer’s branding top and center, farmer users can explore a digital storefront while always knowing who’s on the other side of the contract. The (2) live futures feed keeps both the buy and the sell side on the same page, avoiding discovery questions and misinterpretations of the market. And since multiple facilities can be added to one digital storefront, farmers can cycle through (3) bids by facility to find the location they’re best suited to deliver to.
In addition, this is a storefront where the lights are “always on,” since Market+ Sell – the tool farmers use on their side – leverages a live futures feed to show real-time cash, basis, and futures-only contracts that are instantly transactable. There’s no need for the farmer to call the buyer when interested or ready to make a sale, saving both sides time. This is also handy because it allows farmers to review their sales any time of day, whether it’s before the day’s work has begun or after the markets close. It’s never too early or late to start or close a contract.
2. Simplified contract & bid management
This part of the product is, of course, table stakes for us. A grain merchandising app wouldn’t be useful if posting bids – and managing the contracts those bids could become – weren’t simple and intuitive. Still, seeing it all come together makes us realize how much time and effort an origination team can save when the entire lifecycle of a cash contract is brought into one place.
Through Merchandise, users can enter, view, manage, sign, and modify contracts within one tool. There’s no need to reconcile decisions between different systems, which allows originators to reduce manual activities and focus on what matters. That includes being on the phone and on the farm talking with producers.
Shown in image: the contract management tab within the tool gives the user a topline pricing summary to understand how many bushels under contract need their basis or futures set (or how many bushels are simply under cash contracts). All relevant details for open contracts, closed contracts, or farmer offers can also be viewed in one integrated, easy-to-use interface right below the pricing summary.
With Market+ Merchandise, users can:
- Easily upload entire bid sheets with a couple clicks
- Quickly update individual bids if the market moves or storage capacity at a particular facility changes
- Immediately share new or updated bids with your entire network of customers with push notifications
- Clearly view all contracts and the outstanding pricing needs for every bushel under contract
- Easily modify completed contracts for arbitrage opportunities.
Plus, Merchandise can be set up to automatically hedge positions once a contract is executed. This add-on option – One-Click Auto-Hedge – uses information on your strategies and commodity relationships to balance positions the way you want, immediately and automatically. This helps avoid hedge slippage and prevent data entry mistakes.
3. Custom analytics integrated where they matter most
Merchandisers shouldn’t have to look in multiple places for the context they need to make a decision. That’s why Merchandise places real-time insights next to a merchant’s most common decision points: to make the path to profitable business clear from the start.
For example, the interface for bid entry and management is right next to the interface for bid strategy. That allows you to adjust and update basis, futures reference month, facility, and delivery window for one or more bids based on how competitive your bids are compared to those of nearby buyers.
Shown in image: the bid strategy sidebar (seen above) lives to the right of the bid management interface. In this sidebar, users can (1) update bids quickly, or click into “Advanced Edit” to change not only the basis, but also the futures month and delivery window. Below the edit window, users can (2) understand competitor pricing near the facility they’re working in. If the user is done editing and wants a wider window to just manage bids, he or she can (3) hide the sidebar with one click.
There’s even the option to switch on “normalize basis,” which rearranges competitor bids according to a consistent futures reference month. This saves you from running mundane, repetitive, back-of-the-napkin calculations when you’re quickly trying to explain your bid’s competitiveness to a customer.
Expect more analytics to show up throughout the Market+ application in the coming months.
Increase your profitability and win more business
Market+ Merchandise enables origination and merchandising teams to turn an inefficient offline contracting process into a streamlined digital experience. We can’t wait to explore how it can help you meet the needs of your business today and solve even more challenges for you tomorrow.
Disclaimer: Indigo is not and does not represent to be a commodities trading advisor ("CTA"), futures commission merchant ("FCM"), introducing broker ("IB"), commodity pool operator ("CPO"), or swap dealer. Materials provided by Indigo are for informational purposes only, and Indigo does not solicit, advise or guarantee any sale, purchase or trade.