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Industry Insight: The Rise and Rise of E-Commerce

 

E-commerce solutions for fresh produce are launching across Asia, South Africa, Europe and the Americas as market innovators see the potential of digital trading environments to drive industry growth and greater returns.


Momentum is building quickly behind the digital farming revolution – in recent months we have seen the launch of the Australian Farmers website, the SproutX funding initiative, the opening of a centre for horticultural robotics and intelligent systems at the University of Sydney and promotion of numerous workshops and articles from industry commentators exploring smart farming and agtech developments.

The adoption of digital farming innovations is increasing  production yield but there has been little emphasis on taking the revolution upstream into the supply & distribution chain. Using digital technologies to maximise the commercial yield for farmers, while maximising return on investment for wholesale buyers, is clearly the next frontier. And it is happening now.

Globally, market innovators and startups have been investing heavily in digital technologies with the objective of finding ways to facilitate a profitable, online market mechanism for produce trade. Spurred in part by key technological advances that overcome traditional barriers – supply chain complexity, poor digital coverage and insufficient risk management – this wave of investment has seen the launch of e-commerce platforms, servicing both domestic and global produce markets, in Australia, Asia (India, China) and the US.

At a macro level e-commerce platforms have the potential to facilitate a more profitable, equitable and sustainable trade system for produce. Yet many lack what the HiveXchange team know is an essential component to a successful trade model for the ‘produce’ industry and that is ‘Trust’.  Produce supply chains are inherently difficult to manage due to the incredible variety of produce and many potential impacts to consistent supply.

Speaking about the importance of trust to the build philosophy of the HiveXchange, CEO Antonio Palanca says,

“As anyone in the industry knows, trust and reputation is what stakeholders turn to, to manage risk. I have seen development of trading platforms in other countries such as Quixianyuan.com in China, Vegfru.com in India, Fruitspot.com in the USA, and one of the early pioneers Fgxplatform.co.za in South Africa. However, all of these e-commerce driven marketplaces are a generation behind what we have built here in Australia. They are based on a traditional model of e-commerce  whereas the HiveXchange has created T-ecommerce – trust based e-commerce.

Our vision is that risk can and will  be managed in novel ways, by using data, algorithms, and workflow tools to build trust elements into an e-commerce fabric. That is an entirely new business model and one that is already delivering Australian producers and wholesale buyers a meaningful alternative to traditional ways of trading produce. We also know, from discussions we have had with Asian stakeholders, that T-ecommerce will give Australian wholesalers and producers a competitive advantage against global peers, in a market that is becoming increasingly globalised. Watch this space – the business reasons are compelling.”  

As Australia’s first working national online marketplace for produce, the HiveXchange is helping producers and buyers capitalise on their investments by creating a new way to control and direct sales and marketing of fresh produce. Built in Australia, using the same cloud based architectures deployed by NetFlix, Paypal, and Ebay, the HiveXchange enables producers, market agents and buyers to trade in real-time with immediacy, transparency, and privacy. Already the HiveXchange has supported trade between producers in Queensland and wholesale buyers in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It has also supported its first trade for fishermen looking to sell their catch directly off the boat into the supply chain, another sign of the value that digital trade can deliver to industries involved in perishable products.

The proven benefits of e-commerce technologies, their ability to evolve with industry needs and the predicted impact of global ecommerce trends on export requirements, will drive digitisation of the produce system in Australia. This digital revolution will go far beyond the farm gate, influencing trade, handling, transport and administrative processes in both the domestic and export markets. It will provide direct access for farmers to a geographically dispersed, trusted network of business partners, facilitating real-time, private and direct trade opportunities that promote diverse, resilient and responsive supply chains.

The disruption of global supply chains by the digital economy is clearly evident, how the produce industry responds to this system-wide innovation will determine whether it has a disruptive or stimulatory impact on agricultural growth in Australia.

Relevant Links:

The HiveXchange – http://hivexchange.com.au/
FreshFruitPortal – Fruta Cloud
Fresh Produce Journal – Digital Future of Farming
The Land – GrowAg Youth Forum
AsiaFruit – India Online platform for Fresh Produce B2C

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