Service2Fruit chooses future-proofing with the transition from high-code to low-code

OutSystems Low-code

The end of high-code for Service2Fruit: a new course for the future

In the challenging world of online fruit trading and auctions, Service2Fruit has a clear vision: to expand its product offering and enter new markets, which are inherently linked. As an established player in the Dutch fruit market, it was time to scale up with the current focus on apples and pears. Bart Leemans, CEO of Service2Fruit, is clear: “If we can disrupt other markets, where retail determines the prices, just like we did with apples and pears, by making processes transparent and eliminating intermediaries, then I’ll be thrilled.” However, the existing Service2Fruit platform, based on ‘high-code’ .NET technology, was no longer future-proof for their ambitious plans. Continuing with high code would mean that Service2Fruit cannot build new functionalities quickly enough and would miss opportunities to meet the needs of future markets and platform users. Following the recommendation of independent external advisors, Service2Fruit sought an expert in low-code who could help them build a new, flexible, and scalable platform that would support their growth objectives without the need for complex IT knowledge.

The starting point for Service2Fruit: the vision for the future

The story of Service2Fruit begins and ends with their honest ambition and pay-off: ‘Always a fair deal’, meaning achieving fairer prices for growers and buyers in the fruit market (and in the future, in many other markets). “As a marketplace built on transparency, trust, and convenience, we were able to revolutionize the market ten years ago. We now connect hundreds of growers and buyers online, with growers selling their crops through auctions. It allowed us to eliminate many intermediaries, resulting in better prices for growers and buyers.” Even though the way of working is easy to explain, it was only sometimes accessible to bring the target audience along. “There is a clear shift towards online and related platforms nowadays, thanks to success stories like Marktplaats. However, ten years ago, it still needed to be advanced for many people, especially growers. After all, it concerns the business of an entrepreneur who needs to sell a million kilos of apples, pears, or other crops for a good price. That is their livelihood, and they suddenly have to entrust it to ‘something’ on a computer – and they find that scary.”

Service2Fruit has gained a strong position in the market through trust and transparency, and they have noticed that younger generations want to go even further. They want to use Big Data, AI, and all the other technologies that provide insights into auctions and their crops.

“There is a clear shift towards online and related platforms nowadays, thanks to success stories like Marktplaats.”

The challenge for Service2Fruit: an outdated platform and the need for change

However, a switch had to be made to continue serving the current market and the intended new markets beyond apples and pears. The traditional approach of ‘high-code ‘needed to be more flexible to quickly add new features and brands or adapt to changing market conditions in the current and future platforms. Scaling up was not possible.

By seeking external and independent advice, Service2Fruit knew that low-code would help them further, and they looked for a partner with whom they could build the future—a future where the platform could be managed by non-IT-specialized colleagues through drag-and-drop functionalities, responding to the changing needs of growers and sellers. LINKIT proved to be the perfect partner for this.

LINKIT’s 4D approach: Low-code as a strategic solution

Therefore, the transition to low-code was a strategic choice driven by the need for flexibility, modularity, and speed in platform development. “We see this as a typical question for a digital transformation,” explains Jimmy Iliohan, Solution Advisor team manager at LINKIT. “It is important to analyze which aspects of the service the customer wants to adopt and where opportunities lie for improvement in such questions. It would be a shame to transfer the current stack one-on-one to the new platform.”

It is important to analyze which aspects of the service the customer wants to adopt and where opportunities lie for improvement in such questions.”

This approach perfectly aligns with LINKIT’s 4D model, consisting of the steps ‘Discover’, ‘Design’, ‘Develop’, and ‘Drive’. In the first phase, practical and conceptual thinking was applied to the future platform and the required functionalities. “We developed some great applications, such as ‘smart auction creation’. It pre-fills the forms that the grower needs to fill in before the auction, based on previous auctions or data from their account. It greatly enhances user convenience,” Jimmy explains.

After this phase, the technological vision and architecture of the platform were defined, and user experiences were designed and validated. Service2Fruit will be the first customer of LINKIT to use the new Outsystems platform called ODC (Outsystems Developer Cloud). With ODC, organizations can easily and automatically scale up when visitor numbers increase significantly, eliminating performance issues. “In addition, ODC offers the possibility to use the latest technologies, such as generative AI, containerization, and microservices. This makes Service2Fruit future-proof in one fell swoop,” explains Anne Kreuger, OutSystems Developer at LINKIT.

LINKIT is currently finalizing the MVP using best-practice methods and an agile approach to create value quickly. However, both parties are already looking further into the ‘Drive’ stage. In this stage, LINKIT will provide the necessary support and training so that Service2Fruit can focus on its core activities and independently manage and scale the platform. It includes training internal experts to manage, maintain, and further develop this platform (and potentially future platforms). This way, Service2Fruit will always remain in control of its digital transformation.

A glimpse into the future: low-code as an enabler for fairer prices, even in the future

When asked when the project will be successful, Bart answers firmly: “If I can facilitate at least one new product category every year, while 80% of the ‘back-end’ of the platform remains the same and we can adapt the front-end based on the product category and target audience. In short, if we are scalable and remain so.”

By choosing low-code, Service2Fruit has laid a solid foundation for future success and created opportunities to tackle new challenges and seize new opportunities.

Fast facts

  • The volume processed annually through the Service2Fruit platform is 60 million kilos of apples and pears, and this is expected to increase in the coming years.
  • Apples and pears can be stored up to almost a year after harvest. Based on the Freshmonitor tool offered by Service2Fruit, which is considered price-setting in the market, growers often wait for the right moment to sell.
  • The grower market is consolidating and professionalizing, with larger parties wanting to manage the distribution to capture more margin.
  • Service2Fruit is the first customer of LINKIT to use Outsystems’ new cloud platform, ODC (Outsystems Developer Cloud). It means they are at the forefront of adopting this new technology and the associated innovations, such as containerization, microservices, and generative AI.
  • With the introduction of the new CSRD legislation, the market will have to disclose the origin of products (including packaging, etc.) in the future. It will majorly impact the market, where transparency becomes crucial. However, with the Service2Fruit (and future) platform, growers can fully comply with the CSRD legislation and gain an advantage!

About Service2Fruit:

Service2Fruit is an online trading platform for fruit that is renewing its efforts to promote a fair and transparent industry. It shortens the chain by connecting buyers and sellers, providing insight into the current market, and making trade accessible worldwide.