Despite all of its physical locations being closed for the near future, Ritchie Bros. says businesses are continuing to buy equipment at its auctions in great numbers.
Over the last two decades, the company says it has invested heavily in technology and saw a steady increase in internet participation at its auctions. In 2019 it sold us$5.1bn (approximately €4.6bn) worth of machinery, tractors and trucks to both on-site and online bidders.
It has developed new online bidding features and products, such as the Ritchie Bros. mobile app. Seventy-eight per cent of winning bids is now placed via the website or app.
In March, three of the company's European auctions were held as online Timed Auctions - a bidding system with multiple days of bidding and auction items that close on a set day and time. These Timed Auctions were held in France, the UK, and Germany, and featured more than 5,300 auction lots sold on behalf of 460 equipment owners. Ritchie Bros. registered 6,200 bidders, more than half of them from abroad.
"March auctions have shown massive online participation from all over the world and achieved strong selling prices," said Jeroen Rijk, MD at Ritchie Bros. "Although it's strange and uncertain times for our industry, there's still a lot of projects around the world being carried out. Businesses are looking for places where they can safely buy equipment that is quickly available to them."
Notable sales at the March auctions included a Caterpillar 320EL hydraulic excavator that sold at the Gaillon (France) auction for €83,000 to a bidder from Austria, Volvo EC220EL hydraulic excavator that sold at the Maltby (UK) auction for €56,000 to a bidder from Poland, and a John Deere 8345R tractor that sold at the Meppen (Germany) auction for €135,000 to a Romanian bidder.
Ritchie Bros. started auctions in Meppen, Germany in 2004. The Meppen auction in March was entirely held online and broke a record with 2,920 bidders - a 40% increase compared to the same auction in 2019.
"We usually have a pretty good idea what the selling price will be at a regular Ritchie Bros. onsite auction," said Jan Kees Kloosterman of Dutch earthmoving & contracting company Kloosterman BV, which sold equipment at a recent online auction. "Initially I was a bit hesitant now with the coronavirus, but we saw a strong international participation with the online-only auction, and it helped us get good results. We immediately added more equipment items to another auction in April."
Ritchie Bros. says that visits to its website and web account creations have recently increased by 15% and 19% respectively. Its mobile app users have risen perhaps even more drastically, up 90% year over year.
The next online auction in the UK with see bidding open on 12 June, closing on 18 and 19 June, depending on the individual lots.