This time last year we were having our very first meetings with Steve France, founder and MD of buying platform Florismart, as he prepared to enter the market with his ground-breaking new concept. Now twelve months on and nearly 200 happy florists down they're embarking on their next huge step as the world's first online flower market comes out of beta and launches its all singing, all dancing Florismart V2.
So what's changed since then?
Last winter we were inviting you to join the revolution. We said, "Something big is coming to the UK florist sector. Florismart need you. They're looking for independent florists who are serious about their business and not afraid of change."
Hundreds of you registered interest, keen to see changes in your own profitability by embracing a fresh concept which we reckon is still set to change the flower buying landscape forever.
Florismart's original aim was to create a platform where any supplier can list their offerings and allow florists to compare individual products, creating a marketplace which has resulted in exporters and wholesalers matching on price and quality.
The end goal? To create a fair and even playing field among florists and supermarkets since right now it's nigh impossible for any independent to buy quality blooms at prices the big boys can get them at.
THE FLORISMART TEAM
Steve gives his thoughts on his company's rapid growth, "Every day I meet people who can't believe Florismart didn't exist before. An online flower market for florists with multiple exporters and wholesalers in one place seems so obvious in our digital age. And our growth is extraordinary, already 1,000 florists registered in six months. It is as if the market was waiting for Florismart to happen."
Now with enough staff to fill an Aalsmeer-based office - so the team are right next to the action - the company is headed-up by Steve along with their Director of Operations, Bert Buis. Bert has worked in the flower industry for 15 years and has been with FloriSmart since February this year. With a brain for business processes and technology he's perfectly placed to understand the complicated systems lying beneath the platform's pretty new skin. Bert says, "Florismart, a real time flower platform, is the ultimate solution. Florismart manages the logistics so florists really can spread their order over many different suppliers, and we'll collect and ship."
Since Florismart's inception we've also been in regular contact with Tracey Griffin, who has now become a lead ambassador for yet another major movement to come out of the company: FloraBritain. The new collective of large-scale British growers, many of whom are supplying their crops to UK florists for the first time in over 20 years, exists thanks to Florismart. With logistical solutions provided by the new platform, FloraBritain's 14 growers have finally been able to find a passage to independent florists.
Tracey tells us how she feels about the way the last twelve months have snowballed, "It's a constant pleasure speaking with florists that love having all the suppliers in one place, a real one stop shop. However, the real joy comes when they understand what is truly key and makes Florismart so special; the fact that we're dedicated to supporting them - the professional florist, we don't have bias with who they buy from and that puts us in a unique position, the florist love knowing we're there for them. The last twelve months have been an amazing journey, but I can't wait to have more florists discover the benefits of Florismart. "
With new salespeople, Ed Scanlan and Damon Griffith on the ground chatting to florists all over the UK, plus Susanne Nijssen taking charge of their new FloriMag and social media, along with Merel van den Burg, always on top of quality control, and newbies Coen & Viktoria taking care of analytics and accounting, the growing team are set for success.
TRIED AND TESTED BY FLORISTS
Florismart have become a fully-fledged flower supplier to florists up and down the country, many of whom came on board as original 'Florismart pioneers' and are now very happy customers, keen to keep the revolution rolling.
One such customer is Janet, of Sheila's Florist in Mexborough, Yorkshire who has been testing out the new site and says, "The choice of available varieties is fantastic and it's just so easy to identify the best flowers and quality. I now use it in a very different way to the old beta site, it's far easier.
"It's fantastically clear and I love the sort functionality. It meant I could search for the Ocean Song roses I needed for a wedding, selecting the exact stem length and maturity I needed, and I could see all the options together. It also meant I could sort by grower, so I sorted through Holstein and Porta Nova roses and I found some for 68p... I thought 'I'm getting those!'
"And the new filters are wonderful – it's great being able to see everything, across the board, as all the suppliers appear together."
When Florismart started there were just three suppliers – Paauw & van Egmond, Gerard Heemskerk and Ed de Groot, but the new site will boast eight exporters Star & van der Gugten, Barendsen, Daan Kromhout, Flori-International & FloraBritain from the get go with even more lined up, creating an endless product choice and even better pricing.
New to take a stall at the Florismart cyber-market are Barendsen and Star & van der Gugten.
Barendsen have supplied specialised cut flowers for over 100 years. Famous for quality, knowledge, service and contacts with growers, they are actively involved in quality control projects with Chrysal and Floraholland.
SVG have huge experience supplying to Dutch florists and global markets and are recognised as an established flower brand. Passionate about flowers, SVG deliver expert, specialist knowledge, and are known for their flair for innovation.
Not forgetting new initiative Flori-International, now registered on the platform and enabling flower producers from as far away as Colombia, Africa and Asia to fly their product directly to the UK, minimising transport time and maximising quality and freshness of products.
MASSES OF INFORMATION
But the new website isn't just about buying. The Florimag section is jammed packed with all sorts of useful information on flower buying and the latest varieties, as well as trends to help you make your range different.
But being different is actually what Florismart has always been about. Breaking the rules and moving the boundaries so independent florists can get a better deal and improve their profitability. Twelve months on from its inception, the new website is a sign that things are on track to get even more exciting.
Article created in collaboration with Florismart.