"You can't always get what you want." That's a tremendous cliché truism, also for florists. Sometimes the flowers and plants you need are sold out, out of season, or whatever the reason unavailable. But what about this truism: "You can never get what you don't know." Because there is so much more than is to be seen right now, so many new flowers and plants are hidden behind digital walls of closed webshops and auction clocks. Let's see how you can climb this wall and empower yourself with VMP, the Virtual Market Place. From this blog you will learn that VMP is within reach for all floral professionals, florists included.
How It Works
The floral chain is a long supply chain that runs all the way from the breeder — inventor of the product — to the end consumer. You as a florist, find yourself near the end of this chain, after the breeder, grower, wholesale trader, importer, and perhaps a cash-and-carry. In all my years in the flower business, I have had numerous conversations about what are the buying motifs within the different parts of the supply chain. It appears that all parts and people have their specific reasons to buy or not buy a product and make it available to the next link in the chain. Growers base their decision on factors like yield and disease resilience. Traders look mainly at the (clock) price, shelf life, and transportability. Florists are keen on novelties and see a creative added value in a product.
Connect the Dots with VMP
Connecting the dots means for every florist to get access to all products from every grower. For about a decade the floral chain uses VMP, the Virtual Market Place. Mostly, this has been a tool for growers to reach traders. Let's not make this too technical. Simplified, VMP is a digital highway in which a grower can share his offer in real-time with flower and plant exporters, flower auctions, and flower and plant marketplaces. It's simply an internet protocol that translates all data from one peer to another, just like you have access to Amazon or Alibaba, or Floriday. Everyone who is connected can link this offer to their own customers, so the whole chain can see what's available. The orders that arise are created in real-time in the system at the grower. 'Virtual' in this sense means that everyone connected to VMP has the products that are still in the field or warehouse of the grower 'virtually' in their own stock as well, ready for selling with their own customers.
Advantages for Everyone
In the 100% ideal situation, all of the growers' produce is visible for every floral professional, including florists. And everyone can make a personal selection based on their own preferences. It helps florists, for instance, to get these gems that they otherwise would not see or even know of because their suppliers did not like them or buy them. It helps the traders to not have to decide on everything themselves, but get a better insight into both the offer AND the demand. It helps the grower to make a more educated decision about what the decision-makers further up in the chain love, so what products he should grow more, less, or even clear.
If I Were a Florist...
Now you know, so what to do with all this intel? Would you still leave it to your supplier: "What you see is what you get?" Or would you get yourself all those great flowers and plants that you may have never seen before, helping your supplier also along the way? It's all out there. All you need is a computer, the internet, and the natural curiosity of a florist.