When Simulcast Technology emerged, auctions designated an ‘Online Manager’ to be held accountable for digital event management, and customer support. Eventually, the position expanded to include the management of inventory on 3rd party platforms, such as OVE, OpenLane, and SmartAuction. In addition, it was expected that the person assigned to this role would continue to carry out the tasks of their previous title. Why? Because ‘Online Manager’ was not seen as a full-time position. Auctions applied ‘just enough’ resources to accommodate the execution of online technology. However, the preference was always to have customers physically attend the sale.
Despite what seemed to be an effort to impede the growth of simulcast participation by starving the initiative, the industry continues to experience a year over year increase in online sales… but that’s not all. Whether purchasing in lane or online, dealers have begun to use more digital tools to assist in their inventory research, and are increasing their use of text and email to communicate with auction representatives. This should send a very clear message to auctions that dealers are advancing faster than the traditional auction business model will allow. If that doesn’t say it, then just listen to the dealers who are becoming more vocal about the inefficiencies and burdens surrounding auction participation.
The bottom line is… the digital revolution is here!
Companies such as Integrated Auction Solutions (IAS) and AuctionEdge – two of the largest providers of Independent Auction Technology – are working to address the needs of dealers by building a stronger bridge between their Auction Management Systems, and their respective Marketplaces. They are also enhancing these products with features that will expedite auction workflow and improve 3rd party integrations. However, it is important to note that, while vendors may provide the tools and training, they cannot impart the leadership. In this regard, auctions must rise to the challenge.
AuctionVcommerce, which emerged to assist the industry in the development of a sustainable online infrastructure, has just released its own set of tools geared towards minimizing the gap between customer engagement and workflow. The system, which does not replace or compete with an Auction Management System, was designed to centralize, distribute, and track communication. The automated features allow customers to engage with the auction 24/7 while reducing call volume and administrative burdens. However, as intuitive as the system is, it is up to the auction to execute, monitor, and uphold a standard of use.
A bare minimum approach is no longer acceptable.
The overlap between the lane customers and their online counterparts has warranted the need for more than just an ‘Online Manager’. Auctions should focus on the digital strategy and workflow necessary to accommodate the service expectations for both segments and maximize the use of existing technology. The auction culture needs to change, beginning with the hiring/training of a Digital Operations Manager. For AuctionVcommerce Members, a mentor will be assigned to serve as an advisor in the training and development of this role. For auctions that are not AVC Members, I hope this article serves as insight. It is not enough that a handful of auctions adapt. We must…
Move Forward… Together!