Web trading offers taste of the future
By John Burns South-west correspondent
ONLY six of the 50 bulls offered in the British Simmental Cattle Societys groundbreaking internet sale changed hands.
But society secretary Roger Trewhella still hailed the sale a worthwhile exercise that showed the potential of technology and trading software he has developed.
"I think once buyers got wind that there would be a bull sale at Perth in February they decided to wait until then. Theres no doubt buyers do like to see a lot of bulls lined up so they can compare them.
"However, the internet-based system definitely helped buyers to shortlist bulls which they then travelled to see, and breeders who had entered bulls were pleased they had given it a try."
The BSCS is now looking at using an internet-based system for promoting sales of batches of females, as well as continuing to use it to support live auction sales of bulls, says Mr Trewhella.
Robert Addison, of Harrison and Hetherington, one of the auction companies involved in the Simm-ental bull sale, says the internet system is no substitute for the real live auction sale with buyers around a ring. But it served a purpose in very difficult circumstances when live sales could not operate.
Richard Webber, managing director of Shearwell Data, which set up the Simmental bull sale web-site and developed the programs to drive it, says that in just three weeks his team of programmers did six months work to get the site operational.
"The more the industry realises what technology can do for them, the more use it will make of it. There were two firms of auctioneers involved in the sale and we developed special programmes, which allowed them to enter the sale site and put bids on the screen."
Mr Webber has been struck by the difference in cost of entering and preparing for a live bull sale and the much lower cost of the Simmentals internet-based sale.
In future, he predicts there will be at least five ways of selling breeding and slaughter stock – tender, forward contract, live auction, web auction and interactive web and live auction.
"The great thing about the internet is it allows people to get the information they want without a sales pitch by the vendor." *