As Covid-19 pivots go, a Hamilton agritech firm’s was one of the swiftest.
Online stock auction company bidr.co.nz moved fast to add to its offering during lockdown. The result, livestreaming with bidding, has helped it quadruple the number of registered users, says general manager Tania Smith.
The Hamilton firm deals in both commercial and genetics sales and so far has had most success in the latter, with “great pickup” over the Covid-19 period, Smith says.
Bidr could see a need, with farmers concerned as they headed into lockdown. “These genetic bull sales, the two-year-old bull sales, are a real landmark for them, and they are big events in a farmer’s calendar. Some of these guys, it’s their main income, so they were very concerned, and our phone ran red hot as it became apparent we were going into lockdown.”
That saw the bidr team spend three hours with a PGG Wrightson auctioneer to co-design a new product.
“My board signed it off and we got building it and delivered a livestream product into the market for those first bull sales in June,” Smith says.
“That’s been stunning, I think we did 49 bull sales over Covid, 31 of them were in the live stream format.”
Bidr, a subsidiary of PGG Wrightson, was based initially on sequential auctions where all bidding is by remote online buyers and live time slots are controlled by a computer. It provided an alternative channel for farm to farm sales of commercial stocks, and with animals moved directly from farm to farm there was less stress on livestock, potentially improving animal welfare and performance. It also meant vendors could reach a national market.
Bidr, using cloud-based video streaming and collaboration tool Amazon Chime from Amazon Web Services, launched at last year’s Fieldays and its offering before Covid-19 was fully online.
“Whereas now you can be on farm, bidding on farm, and that will mean those bids are relayed into the system, or you can sit at home and watch the live stream and bid from home,” Smith says.
She says they carried out a lot of testing to get the product to enterprise level, ensuring it is robust and secure. The system features sub-second latency, making the experience “very seamless” with virtually no delay, she says.
They have almost 4000 registered users on the platform. “So it’s a decent set of eyes that can be looking at stock.
“We’ve got a lot of traction in some quite niche areas like Jersey genetics and deer. We’ve had some really successful deer sales. That’s quite a traditional industry, but they seem to be really embracing us.”
She says they are also getting bookings for ram sales, following the spring bull sales, while they have also had good commercial sales of premium stock.
Eight agencies are accredited to the platform, and about 300 agents are signed up to utilise bidr. “They’re the ones that are potentially on the ground talking to their clients about bidr as an option.”
They are looking to grow commercial sales. “This is a very new technology to a very traditional industry. So we are very much in the early stages of getting that adoption.”