For a franchise formula like garden center Intratuin in the Netherlands, speed is very important. The 67 branches are facilitated by a central service office and two distribution centers: one for hardware and one for greenery. “The specific dynamics of greenery required adequate automation of the ordering process,” says Frank de Groot, responsible for Intratuin Groencentrum. FreshPortal Software plays a key role in this.
Intratuin chose FreshPortal Software because the existing Order Management System (OMS) was insufficiently tailored to greenery: products characterized by growth, ripening, or limited shelf life. This has a major impact on both the purchase and sales price. Within FreshPortal Software, all this is under control.
Frank de Groot (general manager Intratuin Groencentrum), Marcel Sangers (CIO/COO FreshPortal Software), and Vincent Romijnders (information analyst Intratuin)
De Groot: “We also deal with many different suppliers who offer and deliver their products in different ways. That characteristic dynamic requires the right automation and logistical handling.” FreshPortal Software distinguishes itself in this respect with a number of crucial features: cloud-based, modular, scalable, and, based on APIs, relatively easy to integrate. “In terms of design and functionality, the software is based on broad experience in our industry,” explains Vincent Romijnders, involved in the project as an information analyst.
As general manager, Frank de Groot has been in charge of the Intratuin Green Centre day-to-day since November 2022, handling the procurement and logistics of greenery to all 67 branches of the soft-franchise formula. From order to delivery. He is also an MT member of Intratuin Netherlands, where he was responsible for the overall supply chain for just under a year prior to his current role.
“Well, before I joined as Manager Intratuin Groencentrum, a program was already running around the implementation of FreshPortal Software,” he says. The addition of additional functionality had been delayed partly due to a major relocation. “So a new impetus was needed,” says De Groot, who has held leading positions within the green space and logistics sector since 1987. “After a period in hard goods, I had a focus on green here again.”
Frank and Marcel in front of the new Intratuin distribution center in Aalsmeer
The aim was to integrate FreshPortal ERP with the existing WMS system and the web portal linked to it through which the product managers of the Intratuin shops place their orders. Within the best-of-breed application landscape – an integrated combination of solutions that have proven themselves within the industry – in addition to the web portal, Warehouse Management Software (WMS), Product Information Management (PIM) system, and master data management software also run financial processing software.
The links between FreshPortal and other applications are based on modern APIs on the FreshPortal side and are accessed by using the Microsoft Azure Service Bus. This Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is an intermediate layer through which all systems are “loosely coupled”: the systems do not communicate directly with each other. “The services and data are reused, monitoring can be better organized, and the applications remain unbundled so that in case of an unexpected failure, messages are queued and can still be sent and processed later. Other processes and systems can thus continue to run as normal,” Romijnders said.
Frank de Groot: “Our old procurement environment was mainly tailored to hard goods and, as mentioned, lacked a number of features that are important in green. FreshPortal Software is now used for supply, procurement, and order management, where correct data transfer for processing and process flow within the supply chain is crucial.”
Intratuin distribution centre in Aalsmeer
Combined with a link to the PIM system, growers’ supply is enriched with a variety of data relevant to greenery and made visible in the aforementioned web portal via FreshPortal Software. Orders from the shops are, again via FreshPortal, smartly consolidated into purchase orders, which are then sent to the various growers for confirmation. This is done, whether automatically or not, through various purchasing channels, including Floriday and through direct trade. When quantities change, redistribution is cleverly made to the shops’ orders.
Other gains, according to the manager in charge, include better insight into the logistics chain and, thus, more control over the process. “Another advantage is that thanks to FreshPortal, we are much more flexible to change orders once placed. For example, choosing alternative products or a different way and time of delivery. The peak period has already proven that partly thanks to FreshPortal’s software, our logistics have also become more efficient.”
Frank de Groot finds the interaction with the people at FreshPortal Software very pleasant. “They know very well what is going on in our business and have knowledge of the technical aspects. They are well-informed about the possibilities and impossibilities. Within the partnership, they are a good addition to our own IT team. Industry knowledge is essential for the success of this kind of project.”
“In addition, we as users have our specific wishes and requirements. These were always well addressed by FreshPortal. If possible, it was translated into a solution. Our cooperation was very intensive for several months. This included making sure everyone was aware of all the important issues and wishes.”
Points of interest
The first part of FreshPortal’s integration was completed back in 2022, and various extensions and desired modifications were finalized in spring 2023. Meanwhile, the software has been running satisfactorily for quite some time: “We are satisfied with the way everything is performing now, even during the peak period. We are now going to evaluate internally. This will probably reveal wishes and points of attention. After the summer, we will also involve the people from FreshPortal again to see what new issues we will pick up towards 2024.”
In the end, the total roll-out, from initial introduction, demo, and workshops, to actual commissioning, took more than a year. After De Groot took office, things really took off, and implementation was a reality within a few months. “You know that automation projects always take more time than you think or hope for beforehand. Here, too, it was a bit tough at times, but together with the people at FreshPortal, we managed it well.”
For more information:
FreshPortal Software B.V.
Bedrijvenweg 6a, 1424 PX
De Kwakel, the Nehterlands
Tel.: +31 (0) 88 70 70 400