“Completely digital?”

That’s what people have been saying to me the past couple of weeks. In response to our announcement regarding the initiative of Dutch Flower Group and FleuraMetz to develop a joint digital platform for our growers and customers.

“Completely digital?” As trading companies, we’re already pretty digital. Many of our purchasing and sales processes are already taking place through online platforms and web shops customised to the needs of our customers and their customers.

But we’d like to get ready for the next phase. A phase during which our supply chain is going to be made even more efficient. A desire that isn’t just felt by us, but by other parties in the chain as well. Hence the initiative – initially just with our most important growers – to organise the information flows in a simpler and more consistent way. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised by the number of positive responses we’ve received and the expressed interest to join the initiative. Both from growers and trading parties. We welcome them gladly. To provide access to customers and markets in the most cost-effective way is our main focus. While keeping the foundation of independence and data protection intact. We anticipate that we’ll be able to report more by the beginning of next year.

In my previous column, I mentioned that the trade is working hard and moving along with a rapidly changing world. That doesn’t just apply to us, but various other partners in the chain as well. Digitalisation is key of course, but we’ll continue to do business in a human and personal way. With a joint focus on all our end customers, from importing wholesalers to large-scale retailers. And a consumer-oriented approach, fed by insights from consumer research and customer data, while growers and traders support each other in the field of market and product knowledge. This is how we achieve the most optimal results in our category management. And it probably comes as no surprise that this process is becoming more and more digital. The simplest way to have all our beautiful plants, flowers and bouquets ordered, arranged and sold.

We work in a great sector, with products that appeal to emotions and contribute to a better health. “Completely digital?” I know that we’ll be doing more things digitally, but the real work will still be done by people. An example I like outside our own sector is Coolblue: they offer online convenience, but they maintain a human and differentiating approach within their purchasing process. The level of service and digitalisation is always determined by the customer.

An even more optimal supply chain, selection and sourcing of our plants and flowers, in line with consumers’ needs, establishing marketing content and of course the daily customer contact. All of our organisational roles are changing, now and in the future, that’s for sure, but at the end of the day, it’s still human work. ‘Digital’ is just a means. People, personal contact and collaboration within the chain will always remain the base for us. Now and in the future.

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