HouwenPlant: "We've decided to embrace Floriday wholeheartedly and make it a success!"
Family business HouwenPlant (tropical plant grower) is also learning more about Floriday and discovering more and more functionalities relevant to it. For example, they are actively working on 'My Shop' in Floriday. In this interview, Dennis Sinnema, commercial representative at HouwenPlant, gives us an update on the state of play at the company, how they’re finding Floriday, and how things are looking moving forward. Read more here.
Can you tell us a little more about HouwenPlant, Dennis?
HouwenPlant is a family business that was founded in 1974. Since 2008, the company has been focusing on cultivating pot anthuriums and, in the meantime, we’ve become the market leader in this field. Heliconia, Euphorbia Milii and Phalaenopsis are the other tropical plants in our range. Although our head office is in Hook of Holland,our tropical plants are grown at specialised locations. Due to our cultivation and quality policy, we supply two different channels, both the finely meshed (online) sales segment and the large-scale campaigns throughout Europe. Our customers are upper-end garden centres, DIY centres, C&Cs, florists and online, as well as in the large supermarket chains market.
OK. And are you currently active in Floriday?
We’re pretty active in Floriday, and are also seeing more and more exporters joining it. I’m seeing at least one new connection being added through our network daily, and also notice more and more companies looking around and/or placing orders through our store in Floriday.
That's great news! Do you use your own software package linked to Floriday or do you operate directly in Floriday screens?
Most of the time, we will be using our own software package, SDF, but at the moment we have to operate in Floriday screens, due to the fact there are a number of items in our own sales system that aren't functional yet, such as contracts. However, SDF is working hard every day to link more and more functions. Thanks to our close collaboration with SDF and the short lines of communication with Floriday, we’re endeavouring to get closer each day to our goal of operating as much as possible through a single package.
And which functionalities in Floriday do you currently use? You’ve already mentioned 'My Shop'; are there any others you use?
We use almost all functionalities in Floriday, such as contracts, the purchase tip, forward prices, customer specific lines etc. In the New Year, we also got started with the Grower-Grower scheme through Floriday, and this allows us to sell on products to other buyers. We now have the first growers operating through Floriday,and I also have a number of other items on my bucket list for the future.
You’ve clearly already been discovering a whole range of functionalities in Floriday.How have you been dealing with the numerous items you have at HouwenPlant?
I think this was our greatest challenge. The fact our assortment is very broad and we have lots of different pot sizes meant this is a serious undertaking, so we decided very early on that we’d examine all of our photos. We also wished to create more unity, which is why – in association with FloraConcepts – we’ve updated our entire collection and introduced a new way of doing things at our company. Digital photography is going to be highly efficient in the long run. This process met with lots resistance at the outset, but by now these "internal and external opponents" have come around and are also seeing this works much faster.
I can imagine this was quite a task. What do you think about this move to digitisation for the entire industry?
I think everyone needs time to get used to it, but that's only natural. It’s also an objective we can't ignore as an industry, as trade requires speed and reliability: which is why sending emails back and forth questions and answers isn't always efficient. What's happening at the moment is just a process of adjustment. You often get the comment; can’t you just call? That's right, but in the time it takes to do that – and in even less time once you’re used to the system – you could visit the Store and place your order straight away. This way of doing things also makes it clear to both parties from the outset what and how much is being ordered. Closing orders worth up to thousands of euros with just a phone call is a thing of the past, and parties selling and buying shouldn't want ot be doing this any more.
I hear you loud and clear. And what else have you done in terms of preparations for 100% Digital?
We made a clear step-by-step plan with all the points we wished to have covered before we switched over to 100% Digital. We’ve started re-examining our assortment, and items we haven't sold have been removed from it. We’re also hiding thematic items when the period in question ends. We’ve furthermore tidied up and set up our internal system, SDF, and have supplemented this system with various S-codes to facilitate searches. The more information you make clear to the customer, the fewer questions you will have to expect. Customers can find our items more easily. In addition, as I mentioned earlier, we've managed to photography all our items in full. Once reaching this point, we started out testing with exporters, growers and SDF and were able to tackle some teething problems. As a result, we are now where we need to be.
So you have come a long way. How do you feel about the leniency scheme announced for the industry?
The leniency scheme is a great idea, because getting to grips with everything takes time. Many users aren't ready yet or dug their heels in at the last minute. However, we’ve decided to embrace Floriday wholeheartedly and make it a success! These systems will nevertheless only be successful if we as growers, together with our customers (exporters), all start using them.
And last but not least, regarding 'digitisation and the preparations for 100% Digital', what message do you have for fellow buyers and growers?
Get started with it and spend time on it purposefully. It may seem like a ton of information all at once, but in the end you'll see everything works pretty easily and logically. And if you come across things that should be different, or that still aren't working properly, discuss these with the developers of Floriday. They’ll be more than happy to share ideas and help. The whole process has been extremely positive one for our company, and this is something everyone should experience.