26 November 1999

WEB WINDOW FOR USED TACKLE

Beyond all the glitz and

glamour of new machinery

on display at Royal

Smithfield Shows, behind the

scenes contacts are made

and renewed among those

involved in the second-hand

market. At other times, as

Peter Hill reports, the world

wide web is becoming a shop-

window for this domestic and

international trade

ALTHOUGH running a finger down the classified ads remains the most popular way of locating desirable used tractors and machinery, dealers are turning to internet web sites to attract new custom.

Fast as this new communications medium is growing, its use as an agricultural machinery shop window is still in its infancy. Until there are sufficient well-managed sites available for would-be buyers to search, few will think web site first when setting out to track down that 93 low hours John Deere 6900, excellent condition, creep, a/c, 90% tyres.

That will change as more dealers go on-line, seeking eager buyers both at home and abroad. The UK already enjoys good export trade (when Sterling allows, that is) and internet web sites provide a shop window that can be viewed from anywhere around the world.

In the US, where internet usage is well established, there are plenty of places to search for used kit. In Britain, dealer organisation BAGMA has followed the north American lead by creating its own online database on which any member dealer can advertise their second-hand stock.

Pleasing reaction

"We are generally pleased with the reaction so far," says Ian Jones of BAGMA. "And its interesting to see the way the initial enquiry level has gone from 60 to 70 per month in the first six months, but has since fallen off – which is due, we believe, to regular enquirers using the hyperlinks to go straight to the dealer web sites."

Although overseas buyers are Tractor-Market UKs main target, dealer-to-dealer trade and UK farmers and contractors are also using the site to track down tractors and equipment.

"One thing we have noticed is that priced items, and especially those that have a full description, get a lot more attention than others," says Mr Jones.

Response to individual dealer web sites has been mixed.

"We often get enquiries for equipment we dont sell and, at present, the number of genuine UK and overseas enquiries that come through the web site are not that great," says Russell Brett of Ross Farm Machinery, Ross-on-Wye, Herefords. "But we do believe web sites and email will be used more and more, which is why were getting experience of them now."

Like most dealer sites, RFMs lists tractors and machinery by make, model and price, age and horsepower. Registered trade contacts have access to the export area and users can search the site for particular models.

At eastern counties dealer Ernest Doe & Sons, sales office manager Tony Mawer also reckons web site advertising is ahead of its time.

"Ive yet to be convinced of the value of web site enquiries and email," he says. "We already do a lot of export business, so have established contacts, and the standard of enquiries received so far has not really helped the business."

A positive early result has made Attleborough-based Norfolk Farm Machinery a little more optimistic about the potential of web listings; within a few weeks of setting up its site, an enquiry about a TIM sugar beet harvester on the stock list led to a sale.

"We already have some second-hand export business but hope the web site will act as a shop window to get more contacts," says NFMs Richard Fulford.

The important thing, he recognises, is to keep information regularly updated and enquiries promptly dealt with.

E-mail system

"When everyone is busy with their own day-to-day problems, it is too easy to over-look these aspects," he suggests. "But we now have an email system that alerts users to new mail, and the web site itself will be improved to hopefully make it more effective."

Attracting overseas interest in used tractors is also the main reason for Rea Valley Tractors in Shropshire going online, says Ian Vance.

"It is starting to reap rewards," he says. "One of the important things is to register with as many internet search services as possible to ensure people surfing for such sites have a good chance of finding yours."

After looking into available technology, Mr Vance decided to employ an agency to build the Rea Valley Tractors site, to take advantage of design skills and latest web site software. The result is a clean layout with simple but effective graphics, but which is also quick to download. &#42

A selection* of dealer web sites (add www. to each address)

Andrew Guest Machinery countrylife.org.uk/guest/index.htm

BAGMA bagma.com

Burton Salmon Tractors yorkshirenet.co.uk/belarustractors/index

Carter Agricultural carteragri.co.uk

E O Culverwell eo-culverwell.ltd.uk

Douglas Beck Tractors beck-tractors.co.uk

Edward Bourn Tractors bourn-tractors.co.uk

Ernest Doe & Co ernestdoe.co.uk

Farol farol.co.uk

Gibson Machinery Sales gms-tractors.co.uk

Hamilton of Larkhill (Houstoun) houstoun.demon.co.uk

JCB Agrimart jcbagrimart.co.uk

Lawrence Farm Equipment netcomuk.co.uk/~mlawrenc/home.htm

Norfolk Farm Machinery nfm.co.uk

Peacock & Binnington peacock.co.uk

Rea Valley Tractors rea-valley-tractors.co.uk

Reekie Group reekie.co.uk

Riverlea Tractors riverlea-tractors.co.uk

Robert B Flett rbflett.co.uk

Ross Farm Machinery rossfarm.co.uk

Sharrocks sharrock.co.uk

Startin Tractors startintractors.co.uk

Tractor-Market UK (BAGMA) tractor-market.co.uk

Tractor Net tractornet.com

Tractor Web (US) tractorweb.com

Watling JCB watling.co.uk

T &#42 White thwhite.co.uk

* If youre not here please let us know!