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Virus steers more auctioneering online

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Covid-19 has forever changed the traditional live auction model, forcing a “new normal” digital standard on the industry, if it wants to remain profitable and relevant, the SA Institute of Auctioneers has been told.

SAIA director and property auctioneer Joff van Reenen, speaking on a SAIA webinar to discuss the implications of Covid-19, said there would always be a place for live auctions but every auction company now needed secure, industry-tailored digital platforms which reached larger audiences.

“Rather than hampering auctions in some sectors, the move to online platforms has proved more effective with larger and more diverse audiences. Covid-19 has forced people to try virtual auctions.

“Online auction platforms have become the perfect place to dispose of certain items in certain markets and this part of the auctioneering industry is set to grow.”

Van Reenen advised auctioneers who had not adopted online technologies to do so and become part of the future growth of the industry. As distressed sales as a result of the pandemic’s fallout became more common, the need for auctions would increase , he predicted.

The sentiment was shared by SAIA president John Cowing, who said the industry had got a rude awakening when lockdown prohibitions prevented physical gatherings.

“Online auctions have been around for many years but the pandemic has now popularised this type of auction. The most important advantage is that it takes auctions to the people and has the potential to attract far larger audiences with improved reporting and administration of auctions as all proceedings should be recorded.

“Online platforms also allow better marketing of assets, as photos and video, or live feeds, can be used to view items at the potential buyers’ leisure. “However, there are also disadvantages, such as the need to do much more work upfront to load information and place it online. It also requires up-to-date IT infrastructures, a reliable internet connection and back-up connections.” 


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