PRE-SALE auction inspection is set to enter the virtual realm with Elders to become one of the first livestock agencies to offer 360 degree marketing to clients.
Add that to the fact live streamed 360 degree auctions will be available this year, and the auctions space is rapidly changing.
Revealed exclusively to the Queensland Country Life, Elders has partnered with Think Digital owner Tim Gentle to record and produce 360 picture and 360 video virtual reality experiences allowing prospective buyers to view products from all angles.
The idea was launched publicly last week with clearing sale lots from the Killara Clearing Sale at Tara available for viewing through Vimeo.
By streaming online either through a virtual reality headset or a desktop or phone/tablet device, viewers can move in the 360 environment in any direction they desire.
The marketing approach has already been trialled for livestock with plans to also utilise it in real estate and training inductions for new staff in a national roll out.
A group of Elders staff members, including Elders Queensland Livestock Sales Manager Paul Holm, first learnt of Mr Gentle’s work during an MLA event in Alice Springs last year and began discussing how they could bring the idea into their business.
With plans to incorporate the experiences on AuctionsPlus, Mr Holm said the new marketing approach offered a different level of interaction with buyers.
Where previously buyers were shown what the vendor wanted to showcase in their stud sire through a well posed stand up shot, virtual reality allowed the buyer to look at the areas that matter to them, he said.
“Each person that is buying something has something that they will specifically look at,” he said.
“When it comes to bulls I spent a lot of time in the west so I’m very particular about feet first then everything else where someone else will be skin, shoulders etc.
“With this you can actually look at that bit that you want to look at, where as when we are taking a photo now, we are telling you what we want to look at.”
While their virtual reality is currently focused on the stud stock industry, Mr Holm said it could very easily expand into the commercial space by connecting it to feedlot buyers and allowing vendors to showcase cattle they were demanding a premium for.
But, he said, virtual reality wasn’t replacing any of the traditional auction formats, rather enhancing the experience.
“We currently sit in a reasonably good position in stud stock, so how do you go again is the challenge?” he said.
“There are great auctioneers in all companies and there are people that have got great work ethic in all companies so what do you do to be different? You have got to do something a little bit out there.”
Streaming live auctions is also set to be offered in virtual reality later this year, according to Mr Gentle who is discussing the idea with AuctionsPlus.
Just like the cricket which allows audiences to put on a virtual reality headset and enjoy grandstand seats from their home, the virtual reality auction live streaming would see prospective buyers sit ringside and view the sale from any angle.
Mr Gentle said working to erase lag times and deal with the large file size of streaming was restrictions they were working to overcome.
Augmented reality could also benefit agricultural sales, he said.
“I think one day you will have that sort of hologram/augmented experience where the tractor you are thinking of buying can be positioned right next to you in your house and you’re in Goondiwindi and it’s in Coober Pedy,” he said.
“We are already experimenting with augmented reality and it’s very exciting.
“This (virtual reality) isn’t fantasy, this is here now and don’t be scared but rather embrace it just like Elders are.
“This isn’t all just for kids, this stuff is here now and we are asking the older generation to embrace it.”
While Elders are leading the way in the virtual reality pre-inspection space, Elders National Livestock Manager Chris Howie said they saw it as a benefit for agribusiness as a whole.
“It’s about Elders investing in stuff that may be of benefit to the entire industry,” he said.
“We figured that we are probably in the best position nationally to put this out there.”
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