“I am glad that digitization is being accepted so fast in the very traditional market,” says Charif Mzayek, founder and CEO of Floranow. In the beginning of 2021, Floranow, a global B2B flower market place which enables direct transactions between growers and buyers, acquired the floral distribution activities of Astra Farms, the largest cut flower producer in the Middle East. In just 6 months, 80 percent of their transactions have shifted from offline to online.
Acquiring Astra Farms' distribution
Floranow was founded in 2016 and the platform connects global producers of flowers and plants from every major exporting hub to regional and international buyers, including florists, hotels, event planners and super markets. About six months ago, they acquired the distribution activities from the Saudi Arabia-based cut flower grower Astra Farms. According to Mzayek, the transaction is mutually beneficial. “For Saudi retailers and wholesalers, it gives access to a large and rich assortment of flowers and plants, with over 12,000 articles from local and global producers on one convenient marketplace. For Floranow, the transaction facilitates the expansion of the company’s geographic footprint in the region at an accelerated pace, as it enables sales of Astra Farm’s wide assortment exclusively and it provides benefits from their extensive distribution channels and customer base.”
Now, they are taking over their flower distribution and digitizing their offer. “We are creating a model to make them e-commerce ready. For example, we are changing the manner in which they are selling their flowers. It is common in Saudi Arabia to market flowers based on just their color. For instance, it would simply say it is a white chrysanthemum, without any further details available. Floranow is introducing new standards and Astra Farms’ flowers are now traded on the platform by specifications, such as type, variety, length and weight. This leads to more efficiency when the client is choosing their products.”
Transforming a traditional market
According to Mzayek, Floranow is the MENA region’s first online B2B flower marketplace, and they are aiming to move a very traditional market into one that is adopting technology and digitization, as this adds great value to the Saudi Arabian floriculture. “For example, we have a global network of suppliers which means that we are connecting the Saudi Arabian industry with counterparts all over the world. As a result, they are exposed to a larger assortment of flowers. In addition, clients are now provided with a new level of transparency, as they get a full visibility of their orders via the online dashboard. We also provide an uninterrupted cool-chain, from grower to retailer, ensuring that the flowers remain fresh upon arrival and last longer.”
Mzayek reports that Floranow’s services have been very well received by Astra Farms’ clients; since the acquisition they are already about 5 months ahead of schedule. “After only six months 80% of our transactions have shifted to online, and we are expecting this to become 100% in the middle of July. Despite COVID-19 having a negative impact on many industries, we noticed that the pandemic fast-forwarded the need to shift to online client behavior, so the demand has been really encouraging. For example, the moment we introduced Kenyan flowers to our platform, demand immediately surged, which shows the efficiency of our model. Clients can trust that they can go online, choose an order and follow along online to ensure that the order will be delivered, and is done so in good quality.”
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