Generic farmer in a paddock with tractor
Generic farmer in a paddock with tractor

Armchair machinery online trading goes gangbusters

Central Queensland machinery dealers and customers are turning towards online shopping, with new figures showing almost half of machinery sales are now done by phone.

Machines4U is one platform for online machinery sales and its CEO Steve Krebs said the recent rain in Central Queensland has put ag machinery in high demand, followed by dozers and semi-trailers.

"Most of what is being bought or sold now in Rockhampton and Central Queensland changes hands through mobile phone transactions, with the key buying time between 6.30pm and 8.30pm midweek," Mr Krebs said.

"In the first quarter of this year, we had a whopping 43 per cent increase in online buyers compared with the same time last year."

He said the COVID pandemic has changed the buying and selling patterns in Central Queensland and the Machines4U service has experienced unprecedented usage.

Machines4U founder Steve Krebs. PIC: Contributed
Machines4U founder Steve Krebs. PIC: Contributed


They had an average of 180,000 members nationwide last year, but now has 25,000 more daily customers, $376 million in stock and 2.6 million more searches.

"During COVID and now with the current lockdowns, tradeshows are more often than not cancelled, and visits to the local dealership are now less frequent," Mr Krebs said.

"Rockhampton machinery buyers and sellers have embraced digital channels."

Machines4U has experienced a 96.2 per cent increase in inquiries since the pandemic and sales are continuing to soar.

"From the comfort of couches all over Australia, we sell anything from a $10,000 mini excavator, a John Deer harvester, $500,000 semi-trailer up to several million dollars in super-sized mine machines.

"A few years ago, you wouldn't buy a television or pair of boots without going to look at them.

"Today, buyers don't think twice about clicking "buy" and having a major purchase roll up to their doors and that is now translating to high-value items like machinery."

Interest in earthmoving equipment has jumped 78 per cent, metalwork machinery is up by 85 per cent, wood working equipment 81 per cent, agricultural machinery by 121 per cent, and truck interest is up by nearly 150 per cent annually.

"Armchair auctions and scroll-generated sales are now the norm rather than the exception with mobile sales expected to increase," Mr Krebs said.

Machines4U digital performance manager Lyndon Smith said almost a quarter of their traffic is coming out of Queensland.

"The ability to be able to display and demonstrate a machine online saves the need to travel," he said, with regional Queenslanders reaping big benefits.

"Just through the use of video alone is huge."

He said between March 1 and 31, 2021, there were 65128 searches for 'agricultural equipment' and 109000 for 'earthmoving machinery and equipment'.

"We've seen on average about three, nearly four searches per person before they generally find anything they're after," Mr Smith said.

He said the bulk of the machinery needs in Central Queensland were for agriculture.

Machines4U had a spike in usage in February and March 2020 when COVID broke out, but was pretty consistent after that until now.

"Dealers that I'm talking to on the actual machinery locations, they're flat out," Mr Smith said.

"The demand is absolutely massive at the moment."


On the ground

JCB Construction Equipment general manager Greg Landsberg is a client of Machines4U and uses the platform to sell machinery.

His company has embraced online sales and said the internet was the way of the world now.

"Everybody wants to look at things online because it's quicker and easier," Mr Landsberg said.

He said listing online was far more cost and time effective.

"When they can see a video, they're starting to get a real… they're seeing and hearing, which is important with machinery," he said.

JCB started using Machines4U six months ago and has increased their business, and he said the COVID pandemic has been irrelevant to the trends Mr Landsberg's seen.

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