The Internet's Role in Used Machinery
It was only a matter of time before the impact of the internet would be felt in the world of used farm machinery. It was safe to assume that some machinery would exchange hands via cyberspace yet many had doubts it would make the major inroads that it has in the used iron market.
There were concerns with the issue of dealing with people through a computer screen. Farmers are honest to a fault. Yet we've all heard those stories of unscrupulous operators.
Considering such stumbling blocks, one rightfully wondered if the Craigslist phenomena would ever establish itself as a major market for used machinery.
Interest in internet used tractor and tractor part sales in the last couple of years is nothing less than astonishing. The first hints of this trend were witnessed in the antique tractor world. Increasing numbers of collectors were reporting great finds on the internet.
Used tractor part websites, like tractor-part.com, allow for the ease of online buying and selling of tractor parts with more quality and trusted suppliers than a site like Craigslist.
Auctioneer Greg Peterson began hearing from growing numbers of auctioneer houses that were turning to cyberspace sales. "The concept has been simmering on the back burner for years," Peterson says. "But its use has just recently taken off to the point that some auctioneers employ it as a major part of their business."
Or in the case of West Auctions out of Woodland, California, internet trading is the only way of doing business. "We view it as the preferred method," says West's Jack Young. "We don't even put our phone number on our sale bills anymore. We just put on the website address."
West Auctions may represent the future of used farm equipment auctions. A growing number of auctioneers, as well as equipment dealers, report turning to the internet. "We e-mail pictures of equipment to potential customers across the country all the time," says Kevin Bauman with Haug Implement in Willmar, Minnesota. "This year alone we've sold a plow to Oregon, scrapers to California, a planter is bound for Florida, a four-wheel-drive tractor and skid loader to Montana, and numerous other items in our five-state area."
Even early Internet adopters are surprised by this media's recent growth. "We initiated our Web site in the early 1990s," recalls Geri Paul of Steffes Auctioneers, Fargo, North Dakota. "In the beginning, our individual auction page views were under 500 per auction."
With time, interest climbed to 2,000-plus views per auction, Paul reports. And then, interest took off. "We are now up to 8,600-plus pageviews," Paul says. "Advertising on the internet gives our audience a chance to shop 24/7."
That last point is key in explaining the growth in internet iron sales. Farmers have discovered the convenience of viewing a nation's worth of machinery and used parts from the comfort of their desks.
Looking for a tracked tractor with low hours? Not long ago your search was limited to local classifieds, auction listings, and dealers' lots. Today an Internet search will turn up tractors from every corner of the continent. Plus, the variety of exchange methods is equally diverse. You can choose to buy from and sell to fellow farmers, machinery jockeys, auction houses, and dealers employing transactions ranging from private treaty sales, contacting suppliers directly for a particular used part at tractor-part.com, or bidding at an auction broadcast live online.
Experienced internet users have found putting common sense to work - like only buying from established and trusted websites.
It was only a matter of time before the impact of the internet would be felt in the world of used farm machinery.