Growing B2B commerce in the horticultural sector
Florensis is a Dutch based supplier of plant propagation material for professional growers. The second-generation family business established in 1941 has always been known for its advanced growing techniques. Their next step was to digitise their product selection and order process for their clients. This is where DEPT® stepped in to help Florensis take this same tradition of innovation to their online business. Sounds easy, however, successful innovation isn’t solely about implementing the right technology, but also about getting the industry to use and embrace it.
A new way of doing business
Florensis is a global player when it comes to seeds, cuttings and younger plants. They want to respond to their clients’ wishes and give advice on growing and selling young plants using smart solutions. They are also the most disruptive within their industry and enjoy pushing the boundaries of horticulture. Thus, they approached DEPT® to help them establish an online ecosystem which included a whole new website and a client order form, something that was new and unique to the market at the time.
An online ecosystem, something that’s unique in this market
The old fashion way
It used to be that Florensis Account Managers would visit every client and fill out a paper form with what they would like to order. However, this was a tedious and time-consuming process. This is why they wanted an online tool they could use as it would save the company both time and resources. A webshop would allow clients to discover new products, see personalised recommendations based on previous purchases and learn more about specific products and whether they were a good fit for them or not. It would also give both clients and Florensis employees flexibility and more up to date results which could lead to more sales.
Building an online ecosystem
In June 2015, DEPT® launched the first version of the website which included all new visuals of over 4,000 items in addition to text and easy navigation features. The ordering system followed a few months later. When it came to the order form and layout, Florensis wanted a tool that has a similar layout to their current Excel sheet, since employees were familiar with that but more organised and visually easier to navigate. This made building the order form a challenge. Thus, we tested multiple layouts before settling on one. In this first phase, this tool was only intended for Florensis’ own Sales Representatives so we could optimise the interaction based on their feedback. While they were getting acclimated to working with the new platform, we observed and learned from how the employees interacted with it to further improve the project. We then proceeded to use these insights for our ultimate goal: an online store for B2B customers.
In March 2016, Florensis celebrated its 75th birthday. To honour this event, we choose to launch the B2B webshop just before the annual Flower Trials in June so we could ask clients what they thought of it. We then enhanced the website based on the feedback and extensive user data analysis. Thanks to the intensive nature of the collaboration and our expertise in the field of digital marketing, we were able to accomplish a lot in a short period and implement new requests quickly.
The Florensis platform
DEPT® and Florensis collaborated to build a successful e-commerce strategy with a clear focus. We started with designing a new and modernised website for Florensis, available for all formats, which includes over 4,000 products with both texts and photos. We also introduced easy filters which enable people to more conveniently find the right plant when they search the website. The website grew in popularity rapidly and within two years Florensis established their own e-commerce team to better support the influx on customers.
To support the website and Florensis’s digital transformation, a basic order form is now available online for clients so they can easily order young plants and cut flowers. Customers can easily see their orders from previous years as DEPT® imported all past purchase data onto the new digital platform. This allows consumers to duplicate order and make changes for the coming season with just a few clicks. Additionally, in order to increase conversion, clients can order Surplus Products via a separate flow too. With marketing automation, we have targeted mailing campaigns in place to support this.
Lastly, we helped bolster Florensis presence by helping them rebrand both online and offline. This included designing a new logo and variations for sub-brands in addition to online and offline style elements.
A recommender system
After the rollout of their new website, Florensis wanted to continue being proactive and innovative when it comes to their website and the products it showcases to its customers – the growers. With this in mind, they commissioned DEPT® to design a recommender system which will leverage big data and machine learning. It will recommend products that are fully tailored on a personal level and specifically adapted to the tastes and expectations of the customer. Thus, providing the consumer with a selection of products that matches their individual needs in addition to inspiring them.
To make this a reality, DEPT® started with analysing all past order data and applied an algorithm which sorts people based on their previous purchases and browsing history. Based on this information and external data such as the season and plant availability, the computer can give recommendations and will continue to learn and evolve as consumers view or ignore the recommendations. This allows Florensis to, for example, recommend products based on the season, earlier orders and click behaviour on the website/shop. This feature is still being tested before being implemented across all website pages. However, at first glance, it has lead to a double-digit increase in conversions.
The new website gives consumers the ability to order young plants and cut flowers directly resulting in 141% uplift in organic traffic, +479% uplift in mobile traffic, 500% uplift in returning mobile traffic. The average sessions duration also increased by 48%. Online sales rapidly became more popular than offline sales, breaking the assumption that complex and personal B2B processes are not suitable for e-commerce platforms.
We created a service environment for clients allowing them to plan and order all Florensis products and track their orders. The environment is connected with the industries’ standard back-office system PAT and is continuously improved. We also developed a comprehensive order form making it much easier for Sales Representatives to submit orders, saving the company time and resources. Lastly, we gave Florensis a Digital Asset Management tool allowing them to easily send and share high-resolution images with clients who use them for marketing purposes via one link.
The collaboration is still ongoing as we continuously improve the webshop. The next step is enhancing the platform architecture resulting in improved stability and flexibility in addition to rolling out the recommender system across all pages of the website.
See more about our horticulture and agriculture expertise here.
Client Development Director
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