In Indian pharmacies, it is common for customers to describe their symptoms to the pharmacist rather than provide a prescription when purchasing medicine. Similarly, at my parents' pooja store, customers often ask my mom for products needed for a Ganesha Puja without giving a complete list of items. This is because small business owners in India have traditionally acted as service providers and consultants, which has helped them remain relevant even in the digital age.

The relationship between farmers and agri retailers supplying seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and farm equipment operates similarly. They play a vital function in the supply chain of agriculture. In addition, they offer valuable services, including expert advice, crop monitoring, and credit.

In India, most farmers own small plots of land. Agri retailers establish lasting connections with these farmers to offer consistent assistance throughout the farming process. This can lead to increased productivity, better quality produce, and improved market access for the farmers.

Many startups have attempted to digitize the relationship between farmers, distributors, and retailers by providing farming-related products directly to farmers through mobile apps. One of these startups is Bharat Agri, which offers an app for this purpose. For this week's newsletter, I audited the app's user experience and identified interesting design decisions made by the team to bring the farmer-retailer relationship online.

Information architecture.

The play store name of the app reads as BharatAgri: Smart Kisaan app, and that seems like the USP of the product where BharatAgri aims to be the one-stop solution for the farmers to make their farming process efficient and effective that would result in higher yield. Hence the app provides an array of services from e-commerce, consulting, farm mapping, crop calendar and a comprehensive guidebook for best practices.

Let's look at the interesting aspects of the app.

Table of contents:

  1. Crop Calendar
  2. Mapping your farm
  3. Bill of materials
  4. Krushi Dukaan
  5. Capturing the address
  6. Bharat Agri subscription and wallet
  7. Video consultation and Krishi book:

Crop Calendar:

I was impressed by the crop calendar feature, which enables farmers to input information about their crops to create a customized calendar for the current farming season. This gives the app a more personalized feel for the farmer, similar to the "customize your own mandir" feature we previously saw in Sri Mandir. It's the IKEA effect in play.

The IKEA effect is a psychological concept that suggests people tend to value things more when they have put effort into creating or assembling them.

Mapping your farm:

The app includes the option for farmers to map their farms using Google Maps satellite imagery to monitor the growth of their plants. Additionally, interactive tutorials are available to assist farmers in mapping their farms.

I attempted to use this feature to map my coworking space as a farm, but unfortunately, it seems that my crop is not thriving. Lol (Refer third image below)

Bill of materials:

After inputting my crop and farm information, the app provides a list of recommended items to enhance my produce and includes a link to the store where I can purchase them.

Krushi Dukaan:

Krushi Dukaan is a store that provides everything farmers need for their agricultural operations, including seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and tools.

What caught my attention was the use of images to describe the products. Usually, e-commerce sites rely on product images to give customers an idea of what they're buying and a text description for detailed information about the product. However, since farmers may not rely on text as much, this app uses a gallery of images to visually explain the different features and descriptions of the products.

Capturing the address:

During a recent visit to a village for a farmer study, I noticed the homes were quite spread out. Some farmers had their homes near the road, while others had their homes behind their farms. This made me wonder how they would describe their address and how a delivery executive for an e-commerce company would find the right home to deliver to.

Fortunately, BharatAgri provides a solution with a guided video on how to enter the address and an option to upload ID proof for easy identification of the individual and address. I found this particularly interesting, as Indian addresses can be quite complex.

Bharat Agri subscription and wallet:

The Bharat Agri app offers a subscription similar to Amazon Prime, providing farmers access to premium features such as a crop calendar, store discounts, video calls with experts and free delivery. In addition, the app includes a wallet feature that rewards users with coins for their activities within the app. The subscription can be purchased upfront or using the coins collected in the wallet.

It is worth noting that in-app currency and wallets are common in many Bharat-focused apps. (Check out FRND, Sri Mandir, Dealshare)

Video consultation and Krishi book:

The app claims that it allows farmers to connect with experts for one-on-one consultations about their crops and farms on a video call. However, I experienced difficulty connecting with experts as the app only allowed me to chat with a bot, which was disappointing.

Additionally, it offers a list of helpful farming practices to improve crop yields.

While the app has largely succeeded in bringing the farmer-retailer relationship online, some areas could use improvement. The chat feature, for instance, which currently only allows interaction with a bot, should ideally facilitate direct connection with farming experts. This would further replicate the personalized service farmers are accustomed to receiving from traditional agri-retailers.


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