Quick to adapt to the changing buying and selling landscape brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers have made hay while the sun shone virtually. Plant & Equipment chats with Eduard Faig, Regional Sales Manager Middle East, Africa & Asia Subcontinent, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers about acclimating for success.
As much as we’d like to disagree, there are definitely advantages brought on by this global pandemic. The biggest one being the explosion of online business for all and sundry. Companies that were already doing a lot of business online have just been ahead of the race. Ritchie Bros Auctioneers was one such company ahead of the others as they pivoted entirely to online auctions.
Eduard Faig, Regional Sales Manager Middle East, Africa & Asia Subcontinent, Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, says: “Even before this virus hit, we already sold the majority of the items online. With this pandemic, we have adapted our processes to the situation, and through our auctions, we have been able to help our customers buy and sell equipment in these challenging times.” The online-only auctions are performing well, with Ritchie Bros. seeing record attendance of bidders and with strong selling prices.
Change is the only constant
The auctioneers have adapted their business on multiple levels. “First and foremost, the safety of our staff and customers has been a priority. All our auction sites and offices comply with the COVID-19 safety measures,” says Faig. While their in-person participation at all their local auctions has historically been strong, the recently held online auction in Dubai (on June 29-30, 2020), saw a 21 per cent increase in online registrants. The online auction system used on their website (called ‘Timed Auctions’) was developed almost 10 years ago for selling attachments and smaller items, proved to be very effective for other types of assets as well.
The Timed Auction system keeps the option to place bids open for several days.
With just a few minor enhancements to this feature (Timed Auction system), Ritchie Bros. keeps the availability to place bids open for several days - a key difference to the live auctions. “It’s very easy to place bids and bidders have more time to get their bids in. The system notifies bidders when they’re outbid or are in the lead,” adds Faig. However, bidders can still come to the auction site to inspect items of interest before they place bids.
|Eduard Faig, Regional Sales Manager Middle East, Africa & Asia Subcontinent, Ritchie Bros Auctioneers.|
Ritchie Bros. have made all necessary adjustments to their site with regards to health and safety. For example, before the online auction, the site was open for inspection from June 24. No booking was required; however, a limited number of people were allowed on to the site at the same time. But buyers have also been open to this change as historically they have shown a preference to visiting the auction site personally to participate, as most of them are based in the UAE and wider Gulf region. “After the online auction, we have spoken with a lot of our customers, and they enjoyed the experience. We saw a big increase in bidder registrations, and selling prices were strong across the board,” he says.
And indeed, this online auction dealt with multi-million US dollar numbers, featuring 1,080+ heavy equipment items sold on behalf of 170 sellers. Over a thousand bidders from 73 countries, of which 235 became successful buyers. Top buyer countries were the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and the US. Ritchie Bros., meanwhile, recently extended the lease contract of their brick and mortar Dubai site after being there for 20 years. Faig says: “It was time to renovate some of the auction site premises, including the building and the yard, to provide a better experience for our customers.”
The next online auction is scheduled to be held in September from the 29-30th and will also be a Timed Auction.
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