Worldwide, online sales skyrocketed over the last months and ornamental trading platform B2B Conecta, that was launched last year, is also feeling these positive effects. Currently, it is offering products from Mexican growers only but, as they are already ahead of schedule, they are ready to spread their wings internationally. Soon, also products from Colombia will be available on the platform and the idea and eventual goal is to go global. "We are more than ready for it", say Gerardo Cerda and Enrique Arias, from Ornamental Plants and Flowers (OPF) Expo and the driving forces behind the platform, which currently has 400 suppliers, 1,000 clients and 22,000 people in the database.
B2B Conecta is a trade platform that is aimed to create direct links between the supplier and buyer. "In this way, suppliers and buyers can easily get in touch with new clients. On top of that, prices will be more attractive for both as the need for intermediaries is eliminated." Access and connection to the "B2B Conecta" Virtual Business Center can be made through any electronic device using the Conecta B2 App (Android and IOS) or through the website, giving the user the facility to access it at any time to interact with clients or suppliers.
The platform is more than just a tool to buy and sell products; it is also a tool to get connected and to create relationships. "It is also possible to schedule virtual meetings, real-time chats, scheduling appointments and much more."
Nothing in this world is free, so what is the business model of this virtual business center? Cerda: "Provider users, they have to pay a membership fee that depends on two kind of needs; if they export or sell locally and the amount of products that they have. In this way, we try to make it as affordable as possible for every supplier, no matter their size. Clients can enter the platform free of charge and can see all the international and national offer of the platform, also they can arrange virtual meetings, send mails and chat with the provider. "They just have to fill in their registration form and begin to search for the products that they need."
Safe and reliable
When buying a product, how are the transactions guaranteed? "The payment method is supported thanks to Stripe platform, which is the most safe in the world, it is used by many companies throughout the world such as Uber, Amazon, Allianz, etc.", explains Cerda. "In addition, registration forms and databases are aligned to the international and European data protection regulations. On top of that, the platform is supported by AWS (Amazon Web Services) services which support us all the security and functionality at the platform and the databases are safe stocked in a platform named Mongo DB Atlas, which is the one used by the British government to protect their information. We aim to use the latest and the best technological tools in order to generate confidence and reliability to our users."
Growth during the pandemic
Earlier this year, during IPM Essen, B2B Conecta was officially launched. "It took us about three years to create this platform and we were therefore very pleased to launch it at IPM Essen." However, then COVID-19 hit the world. It was a shock for the entire industry, but they quickly saw that they were not affected, on the contrary. As online sales started to rise, they also saw the number of suppliers and clients increasing. "We were pleasantly surprised and we grew faster than ever expected. Now, we are at the level we expected to be in four years from now."
Spreading wings internationally
Due to the fast growth over the last months, B2B Conecta is ahead of schedule and therefore ready for their next step, which is expanding internationally. "Currently, our suppliers are the Mexican growers, but soon also Colombian growers will start offering their products at the platform. Eventually, our aim is to become a global platform offering products from all over the world and welcoming clients from any corner of the world. But we will do it step by step. After Colombia, we soon hope to welcome the European growers to our platform."