INTERNET SELLING SET TO TAKE
Trading cattle online is not a new concept, but until recently the
Internet was never able to provide the real-time action of a live
auction. Now Live Global Bid (LGB), a division of Live Global
Communications of Moose Jaw, Sask., claims their new software
virtually eliminates the frustrating delays in online video and
audio feeds during a sale. While Canadian and U.S. auction markets
are impressed enough to start installing LGB's software and
holding online sales, it may take some time before hardened cattle
buyers are convinced clicking a mouse is as easy as catching an
About 3 years ago, Barry White, CEO of LGB, hired on a team of
local high-tech gurus to speed up the transactions. Today their
software offers a delay off less then one-third of a second on the
audio portion, while the video image of cattle moves at 7 frames
per second. A new phototype program speeds up the video to the
point where it will be like watching it on TV. When wired up, this
new technology should give online bidders an equal play with those
around the ring or on satellite.
"It took us about 18 months to get this software system even close
to being developed and, I admit, we were extremely fortunate to
have this kind of technologically astute people right here in the
Moose Jaw area," says White.
About 4 years ago, White and his spouse, Barbara, were running
White Sales and Auction in Moose Jaw, Specializing in farm
equipment. They realized a change was needed so they learned about
computers and launched a static Internet auction system. It worked
like eBay, where items were posted on the site for 10 days and the
highest bidder at the end of that time got the merchandise.
"It worked out pretty well for about 8 months," White recalls. "
We sold items into Texas, Alaska, B.C., Manitoba, all over the
place, and we were getting 90,000 hits per day and 3,700 user
sessions. But it was short-lived because we had to reserve the
items, and auction people on the whole hate reserves."
They concluded that they needed an interactive online auction, and
that was the beginning of LGB.
HOW IT WORKS!
LGB will operate the sale for the market, or sell them the
equipment and license their software for $750 per month, which
includes technical assistance and upgrades. The only other cost
for the market is the charge for an Internet connection.
Those who want to buy cattle must download and install the browser
plug-ins, register with LGB and create a password to gain a paddle
number. Buyers may also need to register and verify their credit
with the auction company holding the sale ahead of time. At a
minimum buyers need a Pentium II processor, Windows 98 and
Internet Explorer 4.5 ( not version 6) or Netscape Navigator 4.7 (
not version 6), a sound card, a monitor with 800x600 screen
resolution, and a 56 Kbps modem ( fast dial-up or better).
Once logged in, buyers bid on lots in increments, usually $250,
$500, $1,000 or $5,000, by clicking on a dedicated hot key. If you
are the highest bidder on a lot, your paddle number will be
displayed in the " last bidder" window, and you'll be notified by
e-mail of your purchase.
Prior to a sale a catalogue is available on site, and complete
descriptions go with the video pictures during the sale. "No doubt
about it, buyers still have to trust the descriptions the auction
market puts up there of the cattle," says White. "That's very
important with this and, for that matter, any cattle auction."
FITS WITH PRESORT SALES!
Roy Rutledge, manager of the Assiniboia Livestock Auction in
southern Saskatchewan, has been selling cattle over the Internet
for nearly 2 years. The first year he used a SaskTel system but it
was plagued with problems. He's since moved to LGB and is happy
with the way the program works. What's needed now are more buyers
to try it out. "I do see this Internet cattle auction eventually
taking over from satellite sales," he says. "Where it works really
well is for presort sales where there's liner loads of cattle
coming in, and there's a sale catalogue buyers can get off the web
site with all the cattle descriptions."
Most of Assiniboia's online sales run smoothly except for bidders
on a dial-up modem link when their hook-up speed drops below 56
Kbps. They can maintain the audio feed right down to 28 Kbps but
the video image gets choppy.