FrieslandCampina is a cooperative jointly owned and operated by 19,000 dairy farmers. The dairy farmers produce and deliver milk to FrieslandCampina, which is obliged to purchase it all. The milk is then used to make dairy products under the well-known brands Chocomel, Milner and Friesche Vlag.
The new 'Vernieuwing melkweb’ project started with FrieslandCampina and Mirabeau first carefully listening to the dairy farmers so as to learn exactly which digital channels they used. This was organized using the bimonthly magazine melk, the recently established digital newsletter melkmail and the online platform melkweb, which has traditionally focused on service and administration. According to Yvette van de Meerakker, cooperative office & communication manager at FrieslandCampina, the consultation led to various ideas to improve the use of resources.
“We have also reoriented our tools: the magazine melk is meant for in-depth information, making connections, offering service and involving people, melkweb is for current news, melkmail is for short, dynamic messages, and so on. In addition, we have improved our annual planning. Now, our dairy farmers decide as early as November or December whether they will let their cattle out to pasture next season – previously they would often wait until March, leading to a risk of missing out on the option for that year.”
New and improved melkwebThe reorientation of the tools included an upgrade of melkweb. “The old melkweb site was quite outdated and not responsive to our farmers’ need for practical functionalities at the level of the stall. The search engine worked badly or not at all, the system was slow, and there was too much information which was hard to find and partly no longer relevant. In addition, there was a lack of new functionalities, such as push notifications.”
The interface caused a lot of confusion and frustration: digitally skilled dairy farmers found melkweb too old-fashioned, while the less savvy ones found it too complicated to use. And the unclear navigation process forced users to revert to phone calls because they could not find the information they were looking for.
These insights gleaned from discussions with dairy farmers led to the introduction of two apps and the upgrade of melkweb, which has now been launched as a minimum viable product (MVP). The new melkweb is still a closed web environment where users can find information about deliveries and the quality and price of their milk. It enables dairy farmers to carry out seven crucial tasks, several of which are new, while eliminating a number of less useful old functionalities. “We will continue to work on the site based on the feedback we receive from our dairy farmers,” Van de Meerakker says.
The melkapp and weideappThe new melkweb is accompanied by the introduction of two apps: the melkapp and weideapp (‘meadow app’). The melkapp displays information about milk deliveries and milk quality which dairy farmers need on the go. It has intentionally been kept simple: for instance, it shows only the last five milk deliveries as this is considered sufficient for the context in which it is used. If a dairy farmer would rather see longer-term trend lines, melkweb is the place to look. Another important function are the push notifications sent as soon as milk quality has been measured.
The weideapp is a monitoring tool for dairy farmers who put their cows out to pasture, enabling them to record the time when the cows go outside and come back inside every day. This is important to ensure meadow grazing – dairy farmers whose cows are let out to pasture must be out in the meadow at least six hours a day, 120 days a year. The two apps have already been launched in advance of the relaunch of melkweb. Users are happy with the weideapp, which is simple and does exactly what they expect. The melkapp ensures that most information related to milk quality is always close to hand.
Expanding on the strategyThe application of a design thinking methodology was crucial for the success of these projects. Interviews with both dairy farmers and experts provided valuable insights that Mirabeau could translate to testable prototypes. In addition, the development of a digital strategy proved to be a fundamental first step for the development of all subsequent digital products.
Carrying out design on the basis of research, and development on the basis of continuous iterations, allowed the channels to be realised effectively. A digital roadmap facilitates the expansion of the ecosystem of digital applications. The Digitaal Dichtbij strategy ensures that the right digital resources are deployed in the right context and that member dairy farmers can communicate more effectively with FrieslandCampina.
So when can the new approach be considered a success? “As soon as we can put checkmarks behind each of our four objectives,” Van de Meerakker concludes. “Once our members feel that we communicate in a user-friendly, service-oriented, relevant and committed way, we will be satisfied with these projects.”