Australian wool buyers Zoom to first online open cry auction

Sheep Central, April 8, 2020

The Zoom screen for Australia’s first online open cry wool auction.

AUSTRALIA’S wool-selling system continued to develop its digital selling capacity this week, with the first live online open cry auction in Sydney.

Australian Wool Network was the first Australian broker to auction wool online via the online conferencing tool, Zoom, in the sale, followed by Moses and Son.

AWEX senior market analyst Lionel Plunkett said today’s inaugural OOC auction offering of 61 lots/335 bales, of which 55 lots/288 bales were sold, before normal physical sales, gave an indication of the strength of the market with solid buyer demand for all microns.

The auction was run by the Australian Wool Exchange, with Room 1 exporters competing for a limited number of lots.

“Being a live auction meant the new environment was commercial with all business rules observed,” AWEX chief executive officer Mark Grave said.

Mr Grave said the OOC auction demonstrated that the wool industry has been actively working towards contingency options, including online platforms, for wool sales since the escalation of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Significantly this work is ongoing in each of the three selling centres.”

He said the wool industry is an essential industry for the Australian economy.

“To ensure continuity of business through low cost innovation, using the videoconferencing tool Zoom, is one example of how industry is managing the new COVID-19 environment.

“The objective of today’s sale was to examine this technology under ‘live sale’ conditions and gather valuable feedback from the exporters and brokers involved,” he said.

Online selling a pathway should auctions be suspended

AWN said faced with increasing uncertainty over the viability of wool auctions due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, AWN and AWEX with support from buyers have been actively involved in trialling auctions via Zoom for the past two weeks.

AWN managing director, John Colley, said today’s Zoom wool auction provides a pathway forward for Australian wool growers to continue to sell wool, should traditional wool auctions be suspended due to COVID-19.

“Ensuring that Australian wool growers have an option to continue to sell their wool should they chose to do so over the coming months is imperative for the industry.

“Many growers have been hit hard financially in recent years with the horrors of drought, floods and bushfires,” he said.

“Virtual auctions via Zoom will allow growers who wish to sell wool to do so, with no risk to the health of the brokers, exporters and AWEX who facilitate the sales.”

AWN NSW/QLD state manager Mark Hedley said it was encouraging that the auction had support from other brokers and the active support of all buyers.

Moses & Son managing director Marty Moses said it was pretty clear that today’s Zoom sale demonstrated that in our first live attempt the auction can run at around 80 percent of the physical auction speeds.

“I am confident that this innovation provides a way forward should industry require to move from physical sale rooms.”

Mr Grave said AWEX provided training, operational and technical support to enable the sale to be held and assist if any difficulties or issues arose.

“There were none.

“Today’s auction will create opportunities for AWEX to deliver further technical support and operational training to industry stakeholders,” he said.

“These details will be issued under separate cover.”

More online auctions to come

Mr Grave said the OOC auction today also put the transition from one broker to the next in a commercial context.

He said the Australian industry is looking at all selling options, if physical auctions need to cease. Two other online platforms – WoolQ and AuctionsPlus – were also trialling systems for selling wool.

“I think it is important that there are options available; it’s not going to be calamity.”

“We are going to see a lot more of it, because there is greater interest as a need to have greater understanding in how it might be used,” Mr Grave said..

Trial Zoom auctions have also been conducted at Fremantle and Melbourne with other brokers with positive results and more will be held this week and next week.


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  1. Peter Small, April 9, 2020

    An outstanding achievement. The commercial industry innovating and adapting to changing circumstances.

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