A conversation with Plantform, a think tank of plant growers, about 100% Digital30 March 2020
Last week, we asked Ronald Grootscholten, project leader of Plantform, a number of questions. Plantform is a think tank and special interest group for growers in the floriculture industry. 100% Digital was the central theme of our interview. What is Plantform’s role in this transition? What does he think about this change and which tips does he have for Floriday? Read all about it in the interview!
What is your background and what is your current position at Plantform?
"I am co-founder and partner of Florpartners and lead various projects, including the 100% Digital project from Plantform, in cooperation with Royal FloraHolland and Floriday. Florpartners also provides support to other growers' associations in the floriculture and nutritional horticulture industry, such as the Avalanche group and Addenda. We look at the common interest, the goals and also take care of strategy forming, the organisation and the implementation. We also play an important role in strategic and organisational development for larger individual companies and are the project leader of more complex partnerships, in area development, for example."
Fascinating! And what is the link with 100% Digital?
"The members of Plantform are potted plant growers. The variation and frequency of these growers' orders continues to grow, while the size of orders has decreased. The complexity of the order traffic and its management is increasing. The growers have many different supply rows and manageability is becoming a greater challenge. FloraXchange was taken over and Floriday was presented. Digitisation is and will remain a must because of those small orders in that large variety. The information surrounding all of these orders must be true at all times. Doing something approximately right is no use and is not what this transition is about."
You say: "The information has to be true." Why is this so important?
"If the number of orders and the variety increase, manageability decreases. In order to respond to this, we need to go down a different path to make it scalable and not too expensive. If you look at the big platforms like Bol.com, Coolblue and Amazon, you'll see immediately that it's all about the orders and the information behind them. We have to step away from calling, emailing and texting. For the daily order traffic, I mean. We need to strengthen the relationships between growers, customers and end customers and ensure better contact and better cooperation. It also means that the roles of sellers, purchasers and the back office are going to change and that new positions will be created. The concept of Floriday has been embraced by Plantform; we are fully behind it. It is great to see that this is taking shape and more growers truly want to participate in developments regarding digitisation and Floriday. At the same time, the speed with which things are happening is incredibly high and very ambitious."
Jos ten Have, grower and chair of Plantform, agrees. "Due to the pressure of time, we have to take measures to facilitate the transition. An example would be the purchasing tip. That means that we, the growers, digitally prepare order requests based on phone calls and that the customers confirm them digitally.' For now, this is necessary to get everyone on board, but it means more work for growers and there is still a probability of error. We need to ensure that these measures are truly temporary."
Got it! And how does Plantform support this objective?
"It is clear that we must make the digitisation switch. Jefry van den Hoeven and I thought about what cooperation between Floriday and Plantform could look like to make it useful for the Plantform members and for Floriday. The result of this was the leading group 100% Digital. The goal is to work according to 100% Digital Floriday with a few appointed customers before 1 July 2020. These pioneering growers can then demonstrate the possibilities, so that other growers can follow their example."
In the end, a best practice always works best. Which benefits do you think 100% Digital is going to bring?
"First of all, an incredible increase in efficiency. The number of actions will strongly decrease, which saves growers time. They can invest this time and energy in other things. Furthermore, 100% Digital will allow us to improve reliability across the entire industry."
Obviously, in addition to benefits, it will bring challenges, too. What do you think is the greatest challenge?
"100% Digital is an ambitious goal, but it's not unrealistic in the long term. 100% Digital requires an organisational change and a behavioural change, from both buyers and growers. The supply that is listed online has to be fully accurate. Buying means having, simple as that. You receive exactly what you ordered, which leads to more accuracy and reliability. This will be difficult in periods of scarcity; it will require good arrangements and a clear focus. The sector has to participate in this transition, and I feel that this is starting to take shape due to the commitment of the Plantform growers, the communication and the information."
That's what we're all working towards! How do you see the strength of the cooperative in this digital transition?
"Within the industry, Royal FloraHolland is the player in a position to create an efficient and comprehensive digital platform. The cooperative is working hard on the introduction and continued development of Floriday. Now that the clock is becoming less important, a strong and professional platform is required for growers and buyers to come together for direct trade. It is great that the cooperative is making this happen. Keeping this platform in growers' hands and sphere of influence is of strategic importance."