The flower industry is dynamic and ever-changing, staying ahead of the game involves being faster than your competition and consistently delivering the highest quality goods. Any delay in the supply chain has an impact on the product’s quality, freshness and ultimately, the bottom line.
By standardizing, automating and organising processes more efficiently, Flamingo Flowers and Eqeep have reduced logistics expenses while also eliminating unnecessary manual operations. Thanks to clever system integrations, the right information is also readily available within IFS, making export documentation quick and straightforward to compile.
Each year, Flamingo Flowers enters into thousands of purchasing agreements with its growers. Much of this process was done by hand. From placing and confirming an order by mail or phone to receiving, verifying and processing the information within IFS.
I quickly discovered that we were still doing everything by hand, rather than leveraging all of the available IT systems and connections that exist with the Dutch flower suppliers. This was also one of our toughest hurdles; connecting our business to the digital opportunities that are out there,” says Richard van Duijn, Finance Director at Flamingo Flowers.
As part of our Digital Transformation efforts, we approached Eqeep in June 2019 to automate and digitize all of our manual operations in the Netherlands. In preparation for Brexit, we are working closely to automatically generate the necessary export documents in IFS.
In order to remove unnecessary manual operations from this process and make use of what is already digitally recorded, Flamingo Flowers had an API link made by Eqeep between IFS and the flower system. This link is used to exchange information with the growers regarding goods.
The data between the two systems are linked by a number of fields, so that any discrepancies in pricing, quantities, or other data are automatically adjusted. It is possible to check whether the quantities and pricing are right, and that everything is supplied as promised, even before the items arrive. Purchase orders and delivery notices are also visible in IFS.
We can now see directly in IFS what goods have been transported, in what packing unit, what quantities, what pricing, the origin, and other features; not only has this saved us a lot of time processing this information, but we can now be confident that we have the right information accessible in IFS.
As a result of the Brexit, Flamingo Flowers also had to deal with changing (export) legislation and documentation requirements.
Starting July 2022, in addition to plant shipments, also flower shipments will be required to undergo physical inspections; this will incur costs, but it will also lengthen the lead time, as an inspector will have to visit first before a truck can take to the road.
It proved challenging to get all of the necessary information ready in time for the inspection since it had to come from various sources. Eqeep has created several live connections in IFS so that this information is now available in real time and straight within IFS.
Important fields such as country of origin and VBN code are automatically populated, allowing Flamingo Flowers to prepare the export documentation faster and easier.
As a result, our Goods-In team don’t have to fill out the receipt references because they are automatically generated from the delivery notifications. The only thing Goods-In personnel have to do is physically confirm that the goods match what is entered in IFS. After that, they will be able to close the booking process much faster and easier.
The finance team also greatly benefits from this as well, as the receipt references are included on the invoices we receive. This is also the foundation for realizing automatic invoice processing. This is something we are now working on as well; keeping the invoices we receive digital.
How to achieve growth in challenging times?
Despite the Covid pandemic of the last two years, Flamingo Flowers was able to sell more flowers throughout this period, resulting in significant revenue increase. And while growth is typically beneficial, it also carries with it (new) obstacles.
Because the question is:
how can you sustain such long-term growth while maintaining basically the same workforce and capacity?
“The way to achieve this is through standardization, automation, working smarter and designing processes more efficiently to be able to reduce logistics costs, among other things. That is why we are always searching for new methods to transform our obstacles into opportunities and grow as a result.”
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Digital Transformation journey Flamingo Flowers
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