Farm animals go live online

StockNet allows farmers to list livestock for sale and purchase any time of the day or night.

StockNet allows farmers to list livestock for sale and purchase any time of the day or night.

The site was launched two years ago, allowing farmers to list the stock themselves without having to go through an agent. As soon as farmers put an entry in, the site updates in real-time.

Rob Gollan (a farm consultant) says he and his partners, Dave Cotton (a stock agent) and Laurence Bevan (managing director of Web design and company, Master Business Systems) decided to launch the site because there was nothing else like it.

Site Development

Gollan says they were pretty clear about what the site would do. They wanted to make it simple for people to buy and sell stock.

Master Business Systems developed the site using Microsoft FrontPage 97, with portions of the site being developed with Microsoft Visual Interdev and the Microsoft Jet Database Engine. The site is hosted on a Microsoft Internet Information Server at Computerland in Palmerston North.

Benefits

It’s online all the time.

Farmers don’t have to pay agents. “It’s not to put agents out of work,” Gollan says. “But if an agent doesn’t have time to ring someone about your stock, it doesn’t get sold, whereas if you list them on the Internet, you never know who might be interested.” He says if he sold 200 cattle at $500 each, the commission would be around $6000. The cost to list the site would be 50 cents — although you don’t get the administration and negotiation that stock agents offer. “One of the guys who sold a lot of stock through it last year believes he saved around $3500 of commission on one deal.”

Gollan says agents can still be used to check stock. For example if someone in Northland wanted to buy stock in Wanganui they could contact the listing agent in Wanganui and get him to look at the stock, perhaps for an hourly fee, instead of a commission. “So it’s not put there to stop agents — maybe they can work smarter rather than work harder.”

Stock agents are using the site to sell stock they don’t normally have an opportunity for sell. Gollan says the agent can use the site to sell the most difficult stock, that he might normally run out of time to sell. “Those are the ones he should list and suddenly he’s done one more deal that night that he wouldn’t have done traditionally.”

People in the North Island are buying stock from the South Island that they would not normally be purchasing.

Cost

Registration on the site is free, but there is a cost to enter the sale and purchasing section.

“So I might pay for access for 10 listings and say 30 browsings,” says Gollan.

Payment to StockNet for that access is not made online, he says.

“But we’ll see how it grows in the future. Most people perceive there is some risk with that at the moment.”

Challenges

One major challenge was getting major firms to be comfortable in using the site; but that has become less of an issue as time goes on.

“When we started the Internet wasn’t a really happening thing. We thought we would be better to hold off for a little while and then do some marketing as more farmers get Internet access and become comfortable with it,” says Gollan.

The site has 500 registered users.

Advice

Don’t expect too much too early. Gollan advises that Web sites don’t have to be expensive.

Developers: Master Business Systems.

Hosting: Computerland.

Technology: MS Frontpage 97, MS Visual Interdev and M Database Engine.

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