‘The auction should stick to its basic principle’

Looking at some of the big success stories of the past decade, they often have one thing in common. Uber, the largest taxi company in the world, doesn’t own a single vehicle. Facebook, the most popular media company in the world, doesn’t create any content. Alibaba, one of the most valuable retail brands, doesn’t have any inventory. AirBnB, the largest accommodation provider in the world, doesn’t own any property at all. The list goes on and on.

It seems to have become the standard recipe for a success story: set yourself up as the intermediary between two parties and make things as convenient as possible for the end customer. Without leaving all the hard work up to everyone else, though. The format usually involves a certain amount of technological innovation, but the basic principle remains the same. Uber still takes you from A to B. At Booking.com, you’re still booking the same hotel room.

The Dutch flower auctions have been working on the basis of this principle for more than 100 years. Way ahead of their time, they set themselves up as an intermediary between grower and trader, functioning as a practical means for both parties. They don’t interfere with either side.

Loyalty, quality and efficiency

The auction is one of the main reasons why the Dutch flower sector has become so incredibly large. There simply isn’t a better instrument for trading fresh produce. Nothing beats the efficiency, transparency, market conformity and honesty of the auction clock. It allows the grower to focus on the cultivation, and the trader can focus on buying and selling flowers. While the auction takes care of the transactions between growers and traders every day.

Looking back at the developments within Royal FloraHolland over the past few years, they seem to go against the lessons that we’re learning from our day-to-day practice. The auction should stick to its basic principle (auctioning flowers) and do this as efficiently as possible. Both for the grower and for the trader. And they should stimulate this, instead of trying to tear it down. Uber wouldn’t suggest it might be better to walk or cycle, would they?

On the inside, Royal FloraHolland should look like an Amazon warehouse, where the physical processes no longer require any human labour. But the basis, auctioning flowers via the clock, shouldn’t be touched.

Guarantee a clock with a strong focus on loyalty, quality and efficiency, and we’ll be able to enjoy this unique instrument for another 100 years to come!

Thomas Fransen,

General manager Timaflor, Kenya

Click here to read more blogs from Thomas.

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