’New Bakker focuses completely on e-commerce’

Online sales of ornamental products, fresh from nurseries delivered quickly to consumers in various countries: the new Bakker.com is fully committed to e-commerce. Thru their own webshop, but also thru marketplaces like Amazon.com, says CEO Erwin van Cooth.

Since April a group of Dutch entrepeneurs is restarting Bakker.com, the biggest mail order gardening company in Europe that went bankrupt in February. They have taken over several assets from the old Bakker, but not everything. They choosed for example to outsource the packaging of flower bulbs: the activity which made Bakker succesfull in the past.

Transforming into online sales

The new company is quite ambitious: it wants to be the biggest e-commerce platform for green products in Europe. Therefor it is transforming the structure of the old company, which was based on mail order sales, as quick as possible into online sales. „E-commerce is all about the customer”, explains CEO Erwin van Cooth. „If you order something online, you expect a fast delivery. You also expect an explanation when a fast delivery isn’t possible, otherwise you get bad reviews online: they aren’t good for any company.”

Photo by Arno Engels

For the average Bakker customer the mail order concept worked well, but that customer is 67 years old. „After 20 years that customer is dead”, says Van Cooth, who experienced the same thing when he was managing the home, garden and DIY division of leading Dutch retailer Wehkamp.nl. „So you have to transform into e-commerce and young customers.”

Three business models

The new Bakker is starting three business models around e-commerce. The first model is e-commerce via their own webshop and through marketplaces such as Amazon.com. The second model is business-to-business proposition where Bakker will perform as a fulfillment partner for other companies. The third is the traditional mail order, but with a focus on high-end customers. „We don’t have the illusion mail order is a business model of the future”, says Van Cooth. „That’s why we are working hard to reduce the dependence on the mail order catalog.”

The first and second business models are the future, says the CEO. He notices that several companies, like retailers and also nurseries, want to sell directly to consumers via e-commerce, but they don’t succeed. „We can organize the packaging and shipping for them, because we can deliver up to 60,000 parcels a day.”

Van Cooth can’t mention any names yet, as Bakker is still talking with retailers. „In Germany, for example, garden centres and DIY stores want fulfillment, but also retailers that don’t sell plants yet. But they realize: ’we can benefit from gardening sales as well’.

Working with Amazon

E-commerce will flourish in gardening industry, Van Cooth is very sure of that. „Look at other branches where it is already happening. You have to respond quickly to a changing environment. Nobody was used to buy shoes online, for example, until Zalando started in 2008. Now it belongs to the largest e-commerce companies in Europe.” Because of e-commerce intermediaries will disappear. „You don’t have to sell plants anymore thru an exporting company, retailer of flower auction.”

The new Bakker is working with Amazon.com. „Because we are an international company and Amazon is internationally leading with e-commerce”, explains Van Cooth. But for working with that American based marketplace you have to deliver a product within 48 hours. „That’s why we need to increase the speed of our supply chain. We are going to organize the entire logistics more tightly, so we also expect from growers to deliver faster.”

The new Bakker will explain a later delivery to consumers „with a good story”, says Van Cooth. „We can put a webcam on a nursery, for example, and show the customer images. That’s cool: you can see your ordered shrub is growing, and when it reaches a certain height, it comes to you.”

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