A new, international, online plant and flower auction will be launched soon: ClockOnline. According to the initiator, Marco Stolze of MS-Sales & Consultancy in De Lier, the new system will be similar to Royal FloraHolland’s Today for Tomorrow auctioning system, with a few differences.
Stolze, a plant and flower trade advisor, shared the news about the new online plant and flower auction through a brief press release around two weeks ago. When we asked him for further details, he said he couldn’t say much yet about ClockOnline.
Stolze has been working on the new online auction for more than a year. He negotiated with trading partners such as Dutch Flower Group, Fleurametz and FloraHolland, but none of them is taking part in the initiative. Stolze said that negotiations with the auction came to a halt last November.
According to Stolze, collaboration with FloraHolland isn’t (yet) within reach. “The auction is more concerned about the overall costs. I’m more focused on the growers and traders themselves. I don’t have any expensive property. All I’ll have is a system.”
Stolze has noticed that the major trading parties no longer want to deal with the auction clock. “But there are still many growers that depend on the clock and they’ve got to be looked after, too. Increasing the fees is not a solution, it just drives people away.”
Four years ago, Stolze started KPS Sales, a digital, independent marketplace for plants and flowers. Growers offer their produce on this website and traders can order and indicate where and when they want to receive the products. According to Stolze, this web shop is becoming more and more popular.
Stolze has also noticed that many growers and traders are looking for alternatives to the auction’s Today for Tomorrow system, as they don’t agree with certain decisions that FloraHolland is making with regards to the clocks. That’s why he decided to develop ClockOnline.
In a way, ClockOnline is similar to the Today for Tomorrow system that FloraHolland is trialling. Just like their system, ClockOnline is going to be an online plant and flower auction and it will also be ‘af-tuin’; commercial and logistic flows are separate, products don’t leave the nursery until they’ve been sold. But users of ClockOnline don’t have to make use of FloraHolland’s payment services and the new online auction won’t be using FloraHolland’s distribution system either, explained Stolze. “It’s going to be more direct, the chain will be shorter.”
Stolze indicated that the auctioning system is going to be different from the current auction clocks. In which way exactly, he didn’t want to reveal yet. “But I can tell you that there won’t be any withdrawals.” An experiment recently conducted by FloraHolland showed that unsold produce is one of the bottlenecks of the Today for Tomorrow system.
Stolze can’t say yet what ClockOnline is going to look like exactly. “All technological aspects are in place. We’ll run some trials after the summer and after that we’ll determine the final design. There are a number of different directions.”
Stolze pointed out that ClockOnline won’t suit all growers and traders. He’s specifically targeting the growers and traders that, in his words, are forgotten about by FloraHolland. Growers of seasonal products, guest members of FloraHolland and growers with an assortment that’s less suitable for the auction clock, such as green plant growers.
ClockOnline is going to serve growers from the Netherlands and from abroad. The aim of the auctioning system will be to get the highest possible price for the grower. Stolze said that many growers and traders have shown an interest and in the meantime, registration has started. Further details will be announced over the next couple of months.
FloraHolland said they couldn’t comment on Stolze’s plans at the moment, as it isn’t clear yet what ClockOnline is going to look like exactly. The auction did confirm that Marco Stolze and Gerhard van der Bijl, Chief Digital Officer at Royal FloraHolland, are planning to meet in August.
Marcel Zandvliet, Marketing Director at Dutch Flower Group, said that he considers ClockOnline as an example of the ongoing digitalisation of the floricultural sector. “There are will be more of these initiatives in the near future, without a doubt.”