Rural connectivity issues were a concern for customers
Launched in mid-2019, Hamilton-based bidr provides online auctions for the livestock industry. Anyone can log onto bidr, view available livestock and buy from anywhere. All the stock listed is backed by livestock agents with farmers making payment through their existing livestock trading accounts. Buyers no longer need to spend hours, or even days, travelling around to attend sales – they can buy from anywhere in the country.
bidr’s popularity has been growing since it launched, but it really took off during 2020’s lockdowns; given the uncertainty of the time, there was strong demand from the genetics ‘stud-stock’ market to run their on-farm auctions and include an online audience. The main issue to overcome was the lack of internet coverage at some of the studs, which were often in very remote areas of the country. Without a strong signal, an online auction could not take place.
“Essentially, we had a state-of-the-art online platform, and a customer base calling for the product, but an inability to put the two together,” says Liam Beattie, General Manager. “The main reservation for our clients was scepticism that internet connectivity could be obtained at their remote rural location.”
“General amazement” at the quality of the connection
The team at bidr worked with Spark’s IoT team and IT-IQ, coming up with a solution to provide a strong wi-fi signal from every sales location. They chose a plug-and-play solution using 4G routers, which effectively relay the cellular connection from a nearby cell tower and ‘beam’ it towards a sales venue. The results have impressed bidr’s remote rural sellers:
“From most customers, the response has been general amazement or bewilderment that we can have high-speed internet – typically multiples better than an ADSL or VDSL connection – in parts of the country where they are unable to get a bar on a mobile device,” Beattie says. “These customers have since looked to implement similar solutions to provide coverage onto their farms.”
This has been an important step in helping gain widespread trust in the bidr platform. Customers initially had their doubts that bidr could deliver an online auction in real-time without delays or glitches. Now, having seen the technology work even in the most remote areas of New Zealand, bidr is establishing itself as the regular feature for Kiwi livestock auctions.
Extra benefits add to the appeal
bidr has been brilliant during lockdowns, allowing buyers to purchase stock from anywhere. Thus reducing the need to travel to livestock auctions, it’s helping to decrease the carbon footprint of the industry whilst giving buyers a wider range of stock to choose from
Since mid-2021, international buyers have also been logging onto bidr to watch auctions, showing how much it can open up Kiwi livestock markets. Overall, the platform feels like not only a step forward for the industry, but also a way to expand opportunities for our farmers.
The technology used by bidr, Spark and IQ-IT shows that connectivity issues don’t need to be a stumbling block for growing our rural sector.
“Talk to Spark, they'll have consultants that might have a solution for you,” adds Beattie. “The solution for us is a mobile one because we need to travel to multiple places around the country, but if you need connectivity at your yards or woolshed, you should ask to see what is possible.”