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Kelly van Aarle, Gebroeders van Aarle:
“We've grown into a full service fresh produce wholesaler in 50 years”
In the final link of the supply chain from grower to consumer, an ever-increasing diversity of companies is poaching the same part of the market. When it comes to seducing consumers to do their daily shopping with them, the supermarket, the specialist greengrocer’s, the market vendor, the farm shop and, increasingly, the online shop, each entrepreneur develops their own strategy to be distinctive from the others. The supermarket offers the convenience of having everything under one roof. Fresh produce specialist shops, on the other hand, offer exclusivity, quality and service. They are their own boss, and use their own creativity and entrepreneurship. Being distinctive and customer relations oriented cost them much time and energy, and it can even result in quite a bit of stress. How does the penultimate link, the fresh produce wholesaler, respond to this? In the third part of this series, Primeur zooms in on this part of the supply chain. This time, Kelly van Aarle and Karin van Aspert from the Gebroeders van Aarle talked to us. As a full service wholesaler, they focus on quality and supporting their customers in the broadest sense of the word.
In 2017, Gebroeders van Aarle will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Over the years, the company went from a basic to a full service wholesaler. Their vision: the customer is central, fresh produce is of great quality and the customer is deburdened, and all this for both specialist shops, street trading, farm shops and catering industry wholesalers. A recent customer satisfaction survey showed quality, service and personal attention are experienced as characteristic of Van Aarle.
Kelly: “Each of our customers has their own personal sales advisor who makes sure the customer gets their desired assortment year-round, at the best prices and in the best possible quality.” Gebroeders van Aarle recently took the step towards ordering online combined with a new website. “Communication is very important for that. Some customers are worried they’ll lose that personal contact. We are doing everything to create a win-win situation, so that we can get into contact with our customers in an even more focused manner. Personal contact will therefore remain of distinctive and important value for Van Aarle for now.”
The sales advisors know their customers and can meet their customer-specific wishes. After all, a farm shop in the polder has a very different sales strategy than a specialist shop in a shopping mall. A greengrocer makes long hours, they start early and close their shops late. Finding time to come up with a fun action or poster with offers can be difficult. That’s why Van Aarle regularly offers actions, including ready-made posters, flyers or other promotional material.
Van Aarle also regularly organises events to inspire their customers. Early March, the company went all out during the Jubilee Fair on the occasion of their 50th anniversary. Rising fresh produce trends and recent developments in the food branch were displayed on stage. Karin, who is responsible for marketing, says: “We want to practically help our customers by showing examples and options they can immediately start using. That’s why we showed fun ways to display products during the fair, such as hanging fruit, letter signs, processed fruit and surprising fruit and vegetable presentations in wooden crates. Van Aarle regularly organises work shops and information events for their customers, such as ‘Lettering with Chalk Markers,’ ‘Processing Exotics’ and ‘Using Facebook as a Business.’ For daily support, customers can contact the marketing department for product information and custom promotions, for example. For Van Aarle’s jubilee year, we have some fun activities scheduled for our customers, such as visiting growers and actions to win great prices.”
“We want our customers to spend as much time and energy as possible on their own customers, the consumers,” Kelly says. “That’s why we work intensely with other companies who supply our customers, and, if possible, we’ll enter into cross-dock cooperations. That’s how we can be a one-stop supplier, and all orders are placed on one combined order and invoice. That saves our customers time. These cooperating partners supply, for example, sliced vegetables, cooled products, packaging and meals that fit the customer’s fresh assortment well. We are consciously looking for companies that offer something special for our customer to be even more distinctive.”
The logistical process is a critical success factor for fresh day trade. The ‘better’ the product feels, the better the condition of the product, and its shelf life, can be guaranteed. That’s why the storage rooms of Van Aarle have been divided into multiple temperature zones. A mushroom needs a different temperature than a tomato to feel good. Transport is also refrigerated, and Van Aarle recently replaced part of its fleet with three new lorries in its fleet of ten vehicles.
The company always places the product’s quality first in its own company processes. “When the Netherlands is still asleep, our buyers close the best deals for our customers. These products arrive at Van Aarle throughout the day, and sometimes they are even in specialist shops and on consumer’s plates that same day,” Karin says. This entire process was recently filmed and posted on Van Aarle’s YouTube channel. Karin: “This short film shows everything that happens behind the scenes as soon as an order is placed. We have high-quality requirements. If our inspectors are not satisfied, the product is rejected and it will be shipped back to the supplier. Our suppliers are also aware of our strict quality requirements. Our customers rely on us, because they want to be distinctive on the market with their quality.”
Within the company, Kelly is responsible for two of her own branches. The practical experiences of her own shops help Gebroeders Van Aarle to make practice-oriented actions and promotions. Deburdening is central, and this link to practice makes it even easier to respond to customers’ wishes.
Gebroeders van Aarle
Kelly van Aarle
Karin van Aspert
Publication date: 7/10/2017
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