Importing flowers direct from growers can be very beneficial for your business - fresher product, more product options, more sources, and have the ability to save some money.
While buying direct can be a rewarding opportunity, it is certainly not an easy task. If you already import flowers direct, you know all the challenges a flower buyer faces. If you are considering starting to buy “farm direct”, it would be very helpful to have some information in regards to starting and avoiding some of the common pitfalls.
After many years in the flower industry I have put together what I believe are the 5 “key factors” for achieving great results when buying flowers directly from growers in Ecuador.FIND THE RIGHT FARMS
The Ecuador floral industry has been growing over the last 25 years. Some statistics show that there are more than 1,000 companies dedicated to growing all types of flowers in this country.
While this is great for supply, the vast number of farms exposes a major issue – finding information on which farms are the best match for your needs. Hampering this research is the lack of accurate information on the internet about farm management and supply. Your competitors probably will not share the information with you either. Typically people will find source information from their clients that buy from their competition. The first step however is to try and find this information from these sources, as this is, in my opinion, very important to make wise choices. Try contacting some people you know in the flower industry and get information from them.
I also would recommend you use this free Ecuadorian grower assessment tool, where I personally put the necessary information together so you can have a better and deeper understanding of your potential future vendors.
This report takes information from our own 18 year experience in the flower industry and input from key colleagues and contacts involved in the Industry. This information is backed by bflora (exporters flower association of Ecuador).FREIGHT
When importing flowers from Ecuador businesses stress so much in the flower price while one of the crucial factors influencing the final price is FREIGHT.
Calculating freight for your product using cargo agency and airline methods are usually so complex that people don’t even bother to figure them out. The fact is however that an importer can usually save up to 25% on the final cost of the product just by revising this process.
It is staggering to see that even large importers can fall into this trap and instead accept higher freight rates.
Shipping costs are directly related to the Volume vs. Chargeable weight relation. Importers that are aware know this is a formula used by the airlines that states if the volume of the boxes, divided by a weight factor is greater than the real weight, you pay for volume
Simply, it means you are paying to ship air.
After assessing many importers around the world we have found out that most of the companies are wasting thousands of dollars paying for volume instead of the actual weight. The best time to weight and size your boxes is in origin so you can control and make sure you are being charge the right fare before your flowers leave, this is not easy when you are thousands of Kilometers away from Ecuador, for this you can e-mail me at email@example.com and I can send you a list of colleagues and companies that offer this service at affordable prices here.
To fix this you need to know the sizes of the growers boxes (and each farm has many different box types and none are standard dimensions), and the real weight of the product.
Using this information, you can compare the information with the cargo agency or airline reports, to ensure they are charging you the correct fees and that your farms are packing flowers efficiently. Also for an initial analysis of your cargo situation I can go to the cargo agency and prepare a free cargo assessm free-cargo-assessment so you have a clear Idea of what’s going on with your boxes, this will help you identify opportunities for you to improve your costs.
Of course if you are handling or planning to handle multiple farms, this can be a lot effort and time, however it is financially important to keep your cargo costs under control.
I have always emphasized the importance of “point of origin” Quality Control to make sure your flowers are in mint condition before flying.
Mistakes happen and even the most reputable growers make mistakes that can be costly. After working for many years for an important wholesaler and importer I can testify that nothing is more frustrating for an importer than opening a box of rotten flowers in front of my customer that is excited to see their special order for an important event!
There are many things that can be avoided when checking your product on origin, where you find problems here you have time to react and make corrections to make sure your order is fulfilled.
Many big and small businesses struggle with this problem. Naturally importers want the farm to pay for losses due to freight charges, fumigation/destruction, etc., etc. Naturally farms do not want to absorb these huge losses and try to avoid it.
Instead of contaminating a successful relationship between the farm and the importer, why not just check the quality at the country of origin and avoid all this hassle?
When starting to import product, one of the unusual aspects of payment is the need with new sources to pre-pay for the shipment prior to it leaving the farm. How can you trust to send payment to buy flowers from a farm that you haven’t even seen? This becomes even more difficult during peak seasons when bigger amounts are required.
To resolve this issue I would recommend you to use a third party company or person both you and growers trust that can hold your funds and release them once you receive your shipment and it is confirmed that everything has arrived in good condition. This a typical “Escrow” service that hasn’t been developed much for the flower industry but some trustworthy companies in Ecuador are already developing such systems.
Every Industry is constantly evolving and changing, the flower business is no exception. It is fast paced and aggressively adapting to market, supply/production issues. Keeping track of this frantic activity is hard work when farms fail to communicate issues that can stop your orders from filling. You definitely need some informative sources to know what and where is happening.
If you are looking for flower pictures the most complete catalog I’ve found in the internet is provided to the public by Cut Flower Wholesale and Aribaflor at http://www.onlineflowersearch.com and if you need some more information about substitutes for your flower needs you can use www.sierraflowerfinder.com.
And last If you want and up to date directory of growers with products and prices, you can visit us at www.freshlifefloral.com, we make an important effort to keep our information current so it becomes a quality source for you when buying flowers.
I hope this information was helpful for you and I would love to hear your comments with suggestions, ideas and recommendations to improve this blog.