Column: Nationwide Auctioning takes us further15 July 2021
The role of Auction is crucial when it comes to pricing. In fact, Auction was first introduced 110 years ago as an instrument for optimal pricing - and to prevent growers and buyers from being put up against each other. And so, even in the midst of the enormous changes we're experiencing, Auction still has a prominent part to play. Read the column by Erwin de Bont, Programme Director for Nationwide Auctioning.
Auction - as an instrument - is by no means up for discussion. Not with growers. Nor with buyers, for that matter. Auction still determines the price, as it does in direct flows, whether partially or otherwise Even if we're seeing the shift from Auction trade to direct flows increasing, Auction is far from being redundant, and the call for reinforcement of Auction remains - even among those who don't use this trading instrument. It is safe to say that everyone in the industry loves Auction.
You couldn't compare today's marketplace with the early years of the auction. However, in essence, we're still doing the same thing: aiming for optimal pricing at the lowest possible cost. However, we have, of course, moved with the times, even if these developments have sometimes gone too fast for us. I am referring in particular to IT. So much more is possible now than years ago, with possibilities following each other in rapid succession. However, this new technology and IT underpin the more effective meeting of grower and buyer needs.
In response to these very needs, we are gradually moving towards Nationwide Auctioning, or the combining of supply and demand for flowers and plants on a single nationwide, digital clock. This will only strengthen Auction. We are thus making life easier for growers and buyers with smart logistics, with this being applicable to both Auction and direct flows. Ultimately, we will then be able to deliver much more customised solutions that are tailored to the business processes of growers and buyers.
Of course, Nationwide Auctioning wasn't introduced overnight. This isn't a shortcut we're taking and saying: "Right, and now we're going to introduce Nationwide Auctioning". It is a process that we are following step by step, with trials, tests, pilots, support team, etc. And indeed, trial and error is all a part of it. If we develop something new, and it turns out to be different in practice, we adjust it as quickly as possible. We learn from it and try to do things even better the next time.
Each time, we are taking a new step towards the digital marketplace, while trying to keep the balance between not too fast and not too slow. However, everyone will see this differently. For some, the changes are going too fast, for others not fast enough. Things will come and go. Since November last year, for example, we have fully switched to Remote Buying. Meanwhile, we are aligning other things, like the auction processes at Naaldwijk, Rijnsburg and Aalsmeer. At the moment, there are still different methods of purchasing at the export locations, such as verbal and entering quantities. By the end of the year at all locations, however, you will only be able to purchase through entering quantities. This summer, we will also make the complete transition to image auctioning. Flowers haven't been on Auction for years, but plants still are.
This, too, will also soon be a thing of the past. And if products can only be seen in a photo, it is even more important that product information and photos are of top quality - both for the grower and for the buyers. To this end, we are developing an app that growers can use to easily take those high-quality photos that buyers will subsequently be able to view.
So you see, everything is connected. For example, if you pull a string here, something will move there. It is precisely this coherence and integrality that is so important to monitor, However, it should all happen gradually. Similarly, growers and buyers should be allowed to get used to new circumstances before there is a move to the next phase.
Can we count you in?
We certainly do not claim to have all the answers. And we certainly cannot do it alone. It is for this very reason that we attach great importance to the contribution and participation of growers and buyers alike, with the participation of suppliers and buyers in working groups and support teams already proving invaluable and bringing us tangible improvements. Can we count you in? After all, we are doing it for each other and with each other.
Erwin de Bont