Posted on 27 July 2020
by Diede Barendse

Jorgen Verbeek on 100% Digital: “The sooner we offer the supply in Floriday, the more attractive the platform will become for customers.”

Many growers have been preparing for 100% Digital for some time now. Jorgen Verbeek of Verbeek Gartenbau in Straelen is also working hard to meet the requirements of 100% Digital by the end of 2020. In this interview, Jorgen discusses the process, challenges and accompanying benefits, as well as of course their experience with it.

Can you tell us a little more about your company?
As third generation, my wife and I established a nursery in Straelen (North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany). We cultivate cut Hydrangeas under glass as our main crop on 1.5 ha. Side crops under glass are cut Myosotis and Dianthus Barbatus. We also have around 2 ha of outdoor cultivation in which we grow flowering perennials in pots, Dianthus Barbatus (for cutting) and decorative fruit. We have four permanent employees working for us, making us a team of six if you include my wife and I.

I’m a member of Royal FloraHolland. The vast majority of my sales, around 70%, are through Veiling Rhein-Maas. The other 30% is purchased through Royal FloraHolland auctions in the Netherlands. Around 20% of my sales are through Clock Presales. I don’t currently do much through direct trade (around 10%), but I certainly hope to develop this in the future.

Are you currently doing business using Floriday?
Absolutely! I received extensive information about Floriday, its functionalities and possibilities, from the Royal FloraHolland and Floriday stand during the IPM in Essen. Then, later at home I started working on the platform, and at first you have to try it out a little and find your way around. I noticed that the more often I used the platform, the better I got at it. This also means I save time. My experiences with Floriday have so far been highly positive, and I’ll be really happy when I can soon start using it for all of my trade.

I now carry out all my sales at Royal FloraHolland entirely through Floriday. Unfortunately, I can't yet use the option to adjust prices for Clock Presales in Floriday for my sales through Veiling Rhein-Mass. That's down to a technical reason, but Veiling Rhein-Mass has now found a temporary solution for this in collaboration with Floriday, which is currently being tested. I'm taking part in that test myself, and my initial experiences are positive. That's great, because once this is working properly, I’ll be able to channel the 70% of my sales I do through Veiling Rhein-Maas, through Floriday, too, and start using it in its entirety.

I currently use the functionalities:
• Creating delivery forms
• Clock Presales for RFH auctions
• Photo function

I think the photo function in particular is great! I can take up-to-date photos on my mobile, and link these to a particular lot supplied. Being able to log in to Floriday on my mobile is also a really useful function. That means I’m a lot more flexible as a business operator, and wherever I am I can log in to the platform quickly and easily.

What kind of functionalities would you like to see in Floriday in the future?
In the past, I used to create my delivery forms with AntEater. For my sales through Royal FloraHolland, I now do that using Floriday. As I said earlier, I really hope that Floriday is soon fully available for sales on Veiling Rhein-Maas, so I can start further expanding my activities on the platform. Floriday is also still lacking certain functionalities that AntEater had and BluCOM (Landgard software) also has, for instance. Although that’s partly available through Insights, I mean strategic information for my operations in particular, so I no longer also need a separate ERP software package.

What do you think are the advantages of 100% Digital?
Soon being able to start arranging all my trade in Floriday offers a range of advantages. This means I can save a lot of time. I currently still often do all the administration in the evenings, getting everything into order. I’ll soon be able to invest the time saved with 100% Digital in the harvest and advancing my business. There'll also be more time for family and relaxation. What’s more, with 100% Digital there’s less chance of mistakes being made, since everything’s recorded in one system. 100% Digital means I can gain new customers who normally wouldn’t be easy to meet, which is extremely important for trade and my network. However, personal contact has always come first in our trade, and I hope this doesn’t disappear entirely due to digitisation. As a business operator, I need to define this differently, in combination with digitisation and the sales process. I’m definitely going to achieve this goal!

What are your expectations for the future?
Over the last ten years, we’ve undergone huge developments in the field of automation and digitisation, both as a sector and in our business. In addition to the fact that we can reach many more customers, the corona crisis has taught us that we are much less vulnerable with online sales, so I just see this getting more and more important. I’d like to able to spread my sales more and reduce dependence on the clock by starting to do more direct trade online. Floriday allows me to do so, and I expect to be able to start using this in the near future. This means I can start expanding my trade, markets and sales channels.

As far as digitisation is concerned, what would you like to share with your fellow growers?
I notice that certain colleagues are still very hesitant, and want to stick to their old way of working. My advice to them is: don’t wait any longer and get started. This development won’t wait for you, and is going ahead regardless. It makes sense that Royal FloraHolland is pressing ahead with this, and that a date for working 100% Digital has been set. You might not like this, but think of it above all as an opportunity. In the end, as growers, having our supply in Floriday benefits us. More customers are active in Floriday, meaning you can do trade more quickly. The sooner we offer the supply in Floriday, the more attractive the platform becomes for customers, and the more quickly we can start serving customers (existing and new ones) through the platform. This is an interaction, and it’s important for both growers and buyers to understand this properly.

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