AUSTRALIA’S largest online livestock seller AuctionsPlus and newcomer WoolQ are getting ready to provide online wool auctions in the event of the loss of physical wool-selling services due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian Wool Exchange’s National Auction Selling Committee said it has contacted AuctionsPlus and Australian Wool Innnovation’s WoolQ about online selling.
And in a document outlining Frequently Asked Question distributed today, the NASC has also recommended that brokers and buyers invest time in reviewing and learning about the online options “as soon as practical”.
NASC said each online service provider offers offer board and auction-style exchange methods and training opportunities would be provided.
AuctionsPlus chief executive officer Angus Street said the NASC had not said what its concerns were.
“At the moment, it is very much based having a contingency plan should an event occur and that event could be someone getting coronavirus at a selling centre and they have to shut it down.
“It could also be the Federal Government and its decisions on gatherings of people,” he said.
“I know we are yet to see whether agriculture is seen as an essential industry and I hope that it is.
“We have a platform there, we are the only business that has run online wool auctions in Australia and we have a great rapport with the brokers and the buyers,” Mr Street said.
AuctionsPlus is in the process of updating its wool auction technology and will be hopefully coming back to the industry with a “plan of attack” in the next 48 hours, he said.
“The foundations of the technology are there, leveraging of our existing livestock auction software; however, there are data uploading and exporting abilities that we are investigating.”
Mr Street said AuctionsPlus was working on integrating the existing wool listing board with existing wool broker and buyer software.
“The feedback from the selling committee is that there is a preference for wool to be auctioned.”
AuctionsPlus was also working closely with wool brokers and buyers to determine what they needed to list and bid on wool online.
“I’m extremely confident that we will be able to run wool auctions within a fortnight.”
AWI readies WOOLQ Market for auction
AN AWI spokesman said WoolQ contacted NASC to discuss how WoolQ might be able to play a part in addressing the potential impacts of COVID-19 or other future challenges.
“In response NASC asked WoolQ to answer to a series of questions surrounding the functionality of WoolQ.
“NASC then offered an opportunity to WoolQ to demonstrate market place functionality to industry brokers and buyers at the end of this week,” the spokesman said.
“It has always been WoolQ’s aim to complement all the strengths of the existing system at the same time as delivering additional services, rather than being a replacement.
“These selling alternatives remained a longer-term goal and WoolQ in recent times efforts has been focused on the WoolQ grower data and the ability to profile stakeholders throughout the supply chain,” the spokesman said.
“However, the escalating concerns over COVID-19 have prompted a reinvigoration of the WoolQ Market should the trade investigate this option.
“WoolQ is ready to work collaboratively with NASC, and others, immediately to deliver an alternative electronic auction system which can quickly be launched into a viable, efficient tool for the wool industry to exchange ownership of wool whilst eliminating the concerns raised by managing the current COVID-19 pandemic.”
The AWI spokesman said the WoolQ Market system had been trialled by AWI in February and March last year.
“They went well and provided important feedback.
“Both trials included eight participants, including buyers and sellers.”
The spokesman said only registered open cry auction buyers and sellers were able to participate and the trials used ‘dummy’ data
“Users were not able to have access to the catalogue prior to the commencement of the trial.”
The spokesman said the trial auctions were accessed remotely via an active internet connection.
“The response from those involved in the trialling of WoolQ Market was positive and constructive, with speed of selling commensurate with a normal physical auction.
“We have since made a number of enhancements based on input and suggestions from those involved during the initial trials,” he said.
“In addition to this, the groundwork has already been laid for our 24/7 wool offer board known as the “WoolQ bulletin board.”
The spokesman said WoolQ Market is designed to be a centralised online marketplace consisting of a bulletin board of buying and selling interest, accessible on a 24/7 basis, and an online auction, operating outside the open cry market hours.
He said only registered brokers and buyers will be able to buy and sell wool on the WoolQ Market platform, and brokers and buyers must provide valid EDI code(s).
“The systems, particularly the WoolQ Market, is now at a stage that we believe the auction mechanism can be used by the trade should the need arise.
“The wider industry participants would need to join forces to provide the necessary integration and run end to end trials prior to going live.”
The AWI spokesman said WoolQ is planning to have a limited auction demonstration this week and would welcome the involvement of industry “registered” wool buyers and sellers.
“After this, WoolQ will be better placed to make a judgement on an appropriate launch time for an online wool auction.
“That being said, we are confident WoolQ Market is fit for purpose and should industry need an alternative to the physical auction room we would work to provide a solution in haste.”