Farmers embracing web, says trader

Farmers are far more likely to be connected to the internet than other people, says the head of an agricultural equipment sales website.

Farmers are far more likely to be connected to the internet than other people, says the head of an agricultural equipment sales website.

Telecom estimates 350,000 farms are online, which research firm ACNielsen says is about half the total number. AC Neilsen says 1.6 million New Zealanders are online, out of the 2001 census population of 3.8 million.

Agriculture-based websites are boosting this growth and farmers increasingly using e-commerce, says Lee Williams, general manager of farmpoint.co.nz.

Farmpoint.co.nz, one of several e-commerce sites run by the ACP-owned NZ Trader Group, uses the figures as evidence that farming websites “have arrived” in New Zealand. Williams spoke to farmers at this month's Fieldays agricultural expo in Hamilton about how the internet can help them, saying many already make large online purchases through such agricultural sites.

“ACNielsen shows that farming penetration is higher than average because of the quality of the websites, despite the speed of the internet connection. If you can deliver the right [broadband] service, the [e-commerce] take-off will be awesome,” Williams says.

Online research firm HitWise says farming sites dominate the rural, government and specialised portals. Among them are fencepost.com, farmpoint.co.nz, rd1.com, maf.govt.nz, nzdairy.co.nz and lifestyleblock.co.nz.

Farmpoint.co.nz lists farming goods for sale like its Farm Trader magazine sister, though there is still a need for physical visits to see the equipment, says Williams. “People are advertising on these directories and are now getting responses and real sales. We have seen this across all our Trader Group websites.

“RD1.com and fencepost.com are getting enquiries for their specialist stock. The ordinary ‘baked bean’ properties are not happening online; it’s more the specialist, hard-to-find stock,” he says.

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