“In the horticultural industry we tend to work together with a limited number of suppliers of choice with usually longtime relationships and why change if things run well? Developments like the Corona crisis change the settings of doing business. Just as in the consumer world also in the B to B world the online business has increased tremendously, not just in The Netherlands, also internationally.” Speaking is Bert Strikkers form Alumat Zeeman. He explains how not only Corona pushes online business. “Also, the fact that webshops for the horticultural business become better and better with clear pictures, drawings, instructions and available in the local language of the customers supported by professional online advise add to this trend.”
In The Netherlands horticulture is really concentrated in a small country with optimal logistical circumstances. This is not the case in many other countries. “Yes, there are probably some areas where horticulture is concentrated, but this does not mean there are no other places where horticulture is active,” he says.
“Take France for example. A huge country with 3 or 4 concentrated areas for horticulture, but also in the rest of the country you find greenhouses all over the country and also, they need to be supplied. However, they do not have easy access to the distributors or wholesalers concentrated in the few hot spots. It is often too far away. This is where professional on-line business for professionals closes the gap especially in the areas of repair, maintenance, and renovation of greenhouses.”
Where newly built greenhouses form a real international market especially for glass greenhouses, the maintenance, repair and renovation market is national or even regional. “This is where we believe professional on-line business can close the physical distance gap between suppliers and the actual business customers. We found out that the critical success factors to bridge the gap were: Use local language, a professional webshop for professionals with pictures, related products, instructions etc., professional staff to answer questions, products on stock and digitized order fulfillment for fast delivery and optimal logistics and transportation for quick delivery at acceptable cost.”
The last years Alumat Zeeman has worked hard to accomplish this and last week they opened their French Webshop. “And we have our first enthusiastic reactions,” Bert says proudly.
Erlend Bonnet of Vitrérie Bonnet SARL from St. Antoine l’ Abbaye (Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region): “It is great to see all parts in detail and if I have some questions for example when renovating a greenhouse, I just contact them and they help me to find the right parts. For the rest the ordering process and shipment is very easy. I have access now to products coming from the Westland, the heart of horticulture in Holland,” Erlend says with a laugh in his voice.
“We will now focus on making our on-line platform known in France so more professionals can find the parts they need even in times of Corona or being far away from wholesalers or distributors, we are just around the (electronic) corner,” Bert concludes. “We plan to roll our platform to more countries in Europe where the same principles are valid.”