Survey: Tablet Use Among Ag Retailers

A new CropLife magazine study examining the use of tablets among ag retailers reveals fascinating details regarding just how widespread retailers’ use of these new tools has become, including the when, where and why of their use.

About the respondents

More than 200 retailers completed the survey with nearly 68% of them indicating they use a tablet for work. And while it may be logical to assume the tablet users are the youngest part of the ag retailer universe, that is not the case. More than 51% reported they are over 51 years old, and nearly 80% reported they are over 40 years old.

This is a high-value audience, as well. More than 80% are involved in purchasing decisions at their company, and almost half of the respondents whose organizations apply fertilizers do so on more than 100,000 acres per year.

About their tablets

Not surprisingly, ag retailers are an Apple audience right now. Slightly more than 80% of the tablet user respondents have iPads, while Android and Windows devices are each favored by about 10% of the audience.

The tablets are company issued in about 60% of the situations, while slightly more than one-third of them are owned by the individual.

About their tablet use

The tablets are being used for work all over the place — 85% of the respondents note they use theirs in the office, while 79% use it in the field and 54% use it in the cab. More than half of the respondents report working on their device more than 7 hours per week, and almost 86% of these retailers note they are using their tablet more this year than they did in 2012.

Ag retailers clearly appreciate the range of activities that can be completed on a tablet. When asked to check off work-specific activities they tackle on their tablet from a list of nearly 22 options, each task was noted by at least one retailer, and 10 different tasks were checked by more than half of the respondents. The most commonly performed functions were:



% of Respondents doing
on their tablet

Checking email


Accessing agronomic information


Searching the Internet


Tracking weather


Accessing market info / crop prices



As many companies wonder about the value of investing in an app for their ag retailer customers, this survey illustrates the opportunity and the risk of such an investment right now. Approximately one-quarter of the tablet users report using at least half of their ag-specific apps once a week. However, nearly half of the audience reports using apps less than 20% of the time.

Key takeaways

So, what does this mean for marketers serving ag retailers?

  • As tablets and their operating systems continue evolving, a clear distinction is developing between tablets and ‘mobile’ systems with mobile essentially equating to phones.
  • The use of technology by senior personnel at the largest ag retailers continues evolving. At the very least, you need to remain current on these trends and devices so you speak the language of the customers to whom you most want to sell.
  • How does your website appear / function on various tablets, particularly iPads? Is your site built to look good and function the way you want for the increasing number of retailers accessing it from a device other than a computer?
  • Arguments can be made for and against investing in an app. Regardless of your decision, be mindful of ag retailers many uses for their tablets, and look at how well you and your digital products serve their informational needs. What opportunities exist to deepen your engagement with them?

The author is Director of Interactive Sales at Meister Media. To further discuss lead-generation ideas, you can contact him at 440-602-9129 or