NAALDWIJK, Netherlands -- Supermarkets in the Netherlands have begun testing new 3-D computer technology that allows floral/produce managers to preview customized floral-department planograms. If successful, the application may help wholesalers and retailers increase sales, maximize space and minimize waste. Florpartners here has been using the software since its release last fall, according to Iwan Weijenberg, Florpartners' project manager-retail. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Flower Auction Holland, a cooperative floral-auction facility and worldwide exporter. The tool, Pro/space, is a product of Irving, Texas-based Intactix.
"The floral department is not high on the agenda in supermarkets," he said. "Although many retailers now use bar codes to provide point-of-sale data for analysis, most of them do not analyze plants and flowers separately from the produce section."
Weijenberg noted that such broad reporting and analysis has been a significant obstacle in demonstrating return-on-inventory investment of specific plant and floral products. Weijenberg now generates 3-D computer images that he can fully customize for his wholesale buyers by easily interchanging such variables as rectangular or round shelving, different sized buckets, stacked displays and advanced fixturing.
"Now, we can test the shelf purely," Weijenberg said. Instead of wondering how different planograms might look, "We can see what it would look like if we put the roses behind the chrysanthemums."
In the United States, visual-imaging technology has been deployed in retail malls for such innovative uses as helping consumers to "see" what they may look like with a different hair style, after projected weight loss, or by undergoing various cosmetic surgical procedures.
But Weijenberg suggested that because Intactix' new software product integrates with all Microsoft programs and other database applications, "Retailers can now enter all their data to analyze other merchandising elements related to the products -- things like days of supply, sales volume and performance, and other data types."
He said he believes that the software will help buyers facilitate plant and floral wholesaling by adding a new dimension to their communication with retail clients, growers and breeders.
"Also, because of these insights, more and more people realize that [sales] don't end at the depot," Weijenberg said.
Despite preliminary results in Holland, Pro/space is thus far in use by only a very small number of U.S. supermarket companies, and the manufacturer was unable to confirm whether those domestic retailers are using the application specifically to develop floral planograms or for general space and inventory management.