“The journey to get to where we are today was challenging”
September 14, 2021
We recently spoke to Guido Zwart of Mount Elgon/Rose Handling Services about digitalisation in the floriculture industry, the start of Floriday and the current working method. Read more in the interview!
Mount Elgon cultivates 43 hectares of roses, 200 hectares of avocados and 2 hectares of summer flowers at the foot of Mount Elgon in Kenya. It is a genuine family business, where the fourth generation is currently in charge and the fifth generation is being readied. Mount Elgon has its own processing company in the Netherlands, Rose Handling Services, located on the Royal FloraHolland location in Rijnsburg. The incoming shipments from Kenya are processed daily at Rose Handling Services. It then makes all the preparations for the auction and handles the logistics of national and international orders.
Besides its passion for flowers, Mount Elgon is also focused on civil society in Kenya. Years ago, Mount Elgon established its own trust with which it supports civil society in Kenya, including its own orphanage and hospital, HIV testing centres and a school for children with disabilities. It also attaches great importance to climate-neutral production of its roses, by means of solar panels and a hydroelectric power station.
Digitisation in the floriculture industry
“Of course something had to happen. The industry was working with outdated systems and more and more small systems were being developed around us. Which is of course not efficient for anyone. Sometimes you have to jointly move in a certain direction and it takes a deadline to get people on board. With the arrival of Floriday, we can work together as a cooperative which, hopefully, will ultimately strengthen the industry. But, getting to the point where we are now has been a long journey. Working towards a totally new way of working in a difficult (corona) year with a very tight deadline was not always pleasant. At Mount Elgon, we have taken this process very seriously from the start and we have done everything possible to comply with digital trading and the associated working methods. In the end, we are very happy with the excellent link between FreshPortal and Floriday and the functionalities that were developed recently, though it has not been without struggle.”
Working with the link
Mount Elgon works via the API link with Floriday from the FreshPortal software package. FreshPortal has followed the developments from the start and has developed all Floriday modules and linked them to its own package. “We conduct both direct trade and trade via the auction clock and can link this to Floriday via the API link. We are able to supply all channels and settle through Royal FloraHolland. As a result, the information is exchanged quickly and continuously.” Peter, responsible for sales, enters the supply via the FreshPortal system, which is then shared with Floriday and processed and delivered by the team led by Remco, logistics manager. Mount Elgon uses a wide range of functionalities linked to Floriday, such as the contract function, direct sales function including auction presales, setting delivery conditions and the network function.
We have noticed that many new customers have joined since we began working with the API link to Floriday. We regularly receive new connection requests from customers who want to do business with us. That’s obviously a very positive development!
Vision of the future
Mount Elgon/Rose Handling Services
“We now have other direct links with our buyers, all of which require maintenance. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could send all customers to Floriday and there was only one type of link/platform? That would save a lot of time and energy for the entire industry.”
“People are listening better”
Floriday introduced the interactive roadmap to users this year. Mount Elgon uses this as well. Guido explains that the company submits requests and votes on different components in order to be able to influence prioritisation. “This provides much more insight than before and we get more of a feeling that we are doing things together. People are really listening better.”
In addition, Guido is pleased with the recently added functionalities. “You can see that there is a lot of focus on development and we have gained insight into the planning. More and more functionalities that were originally missing are being added. Functionalities such as missing lengths on a supply list to submitting a transaction that is not approved. Fortunately, functionalities like that were incorporated into the platform. It is impossible to build a system that works for everyone right away. There are so many suppliers, different products and types and everyone has their own requests. Floriday and FreshPortal have already taken enormous steps. Today, there is an efficient working method and flow.”
“We are ready for it”
“I think that there are still big steps to be taken on the buyers' side. On the supply side, a large part of it is reasonably under control and well organised. In our eyes, the buyers are not very involved yet. We see this in simple things like for instance the acceptance of corrections by buyers, while only one button needs to be pressed in Floriday. Fortunately, we can still arrange many things the “old” way if a customer is not yet ready for it. People tend to cling to old ways and practices, but it will help us all if we all move forward together. This will enable us to truly accelerate and take the next step. Whatever happens, we are ready for it.
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