Customers are not just a number; building relationships paves the way for the future

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Gradually, the first seasonal flowers from Dutch greenhouses are making their appearance, and a tour around the box at Hans Visser Bloemen, a major Dutch flower exporter who is heavily involved in auction buying and supplies both retailers and florists throughout Europe, gives a good impression of the available selection.

“We buy as much as possible at the auction,” explained director Martijn de Zwart and manager Richard de Boer. “What we can do directly, we do, of course, immediately, but our customer base benefits from what happens at the auction. So, we purchase at least 80% there.”

The supply at the auction has been fairly stable in recent weeks. The major change lately is in Central Auctioning. “A positive development,” says Martijn, “as it offers more overview and we as a major buyer benefit from that. You see that the dynamics change, but it does not diminish the importance of the auction as a tool. There will always be some form of auction because the grower, especially when he has a wide and seasonally changing assortment, simply needs that price formation.”

Webshop is a tool
Incidentally, futures trading and auction trading in flowers are always seeking a balance, Richard knows, but both are subject to change. “The biggest difference from the past is that there is much more contact with the growers. An important reason is that they often work more on a campaign basis. On the other hand, you see that the trade itself seeks out its customers less. Webshops have become increasingly important, and everything is digital. Although we have one too, we see that webshop more as a tool. We continue to focus on personal contact; customers are not just a number, and I think we have contact with every customer daily.”

Sustainable business practices
Hans Visser Bloemen has seen its numbers grow slightly over the past few years, but on the other hand, it hasn’t “discovered” any spectacular new markets. If anything stands out, it’s Eastern Europe, where about 20% growth was realized over the past three years. Customers are wholesalers and florists, “from very large to very small,” but according to them, they never deliver to a customer of the customer. “That can be quite a balancing act, but we are very sharp on that. As much as we want to move forward and keep up with all modern technologies, we also want to maintain personal contact, a phone call, and a visit. It may sometimes require a bit more effort, but in the long term, that’s the most sustainable way of doing business.”

For more information:
Hans Visser Bloemen
Richard de Boer
Email: [email protected]

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