Transparency, digitalization, and the lowest prices. It’s a combination everyone in the floriculture trade is looking for, but there's no medium offering it. At least, till last year, explains Marcel van der Hoeven, who set up trading platform 247flowers.online together with Leanne Poot and Ed de Groot. The platform not only enables buyers to purchase all kinds of flowers and plants directly from growers all over the world, but they also collect and prepare the orders for pick-up. “And this all against the lowest handling costs in the market”, they state. Isn’t that too good to be true? In this article, they explain how they came up with the idea, how they work, and how they have become one of the largest independent sourcing platforms over the past year.
How it started
Dutchies Marcel, Leanne, and Ed, together, have decades of experience in trading flowers and plants as well as in digitization and innovation - Leanne and Marcel already set up a trading platform in 2017 which eventually has been acquired. In 2020, they decided to create a new independent platform from growers directly to customers. "From experience, we know that the chain can be shorter and more efficient, and digitalization enables us to do it and against the lowest costs." Also, with this new platform, they wanted to look beyond the Dutch buyers. "We mainly focus on wholesalers, garden center- and florist chains outside of the Netherlands."
How does it work?
It's actually quite simple, explains Marcel. "At our platform, a buyer can choose from over 30.000 products, from 2.000 growers from 35 countries. There are no assortment restrictions and the actual grower prices are shown, so it's fully transparent. After ordering the products, they are delivered at our logistics hub where we build up the trolleys, do the paperwork, and prepare for transport."
Advantages for buyer
What are the advantages for the buyers when using this platform? Marcel explains: "Firstly, the buyer gets fresh flowers directly from the growers. And the prices on the platform are the actual grower prices. Secondly, with the platform, language isn't a barrier anymore and the buyer can order via our own developed webshop, via VMP or via our API. Besides enabling purchasing directly from growers, 247flowers.online facilitates KOA for the best price in the market. We make the complete chain transparent. Looking at other sectors outside the floriculture market, we digitized the whole business process and operate at the lowest handling costs as we have virtually no overhead costs. Small is the new big!”
In short, with this platform, one can outsource their purchasing and logistics department completely. 247flowers.online can even be used by independent salespeople to start their own business.
Advantages for the grower
Also for the grower, transparency is an advantage. "New products are directly published to our customers without the interference of a traditional buyer causing growers to see where the products are going. On top of that, a grower can position its brand, creating brand awareness. Also here, the grower does not have to worry about payments. It is an extra sales channel for the grower."
The platform went live in March 2021 and they quickly received positive reactions, resulting in a rapid increase in the number of suppliers and buyers. Despite there being no exhibitions to attend to promote our platform, they are very pleased with the growth of the platform so far. "We started with presenting the platform to our network and we had to rely on word of mouth to grow and we did." And they are still growing, says Marcel. "Every day, we see more buyers ordering and more growers offering their products via our platform. Lately, we are also seeing an increase in interest from the Dutch buyers, a group we initially were not focussing on."
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