Duncan Ward, general manager, commercial vehicles at BCA, says: “Online channels are increasingly important for both buyers and sellers of commercial vehicles, with the continued shortage of good retail quality used vans being a major factor in the growth of internet remarketing volumes.
"Trade buyers have to look further afield to secure the stock they need and BCA’s Live Online and Bid Now/Buy Now internet platforms are seeing plenty of activity.
“From the vendor’s viewpoint, online and physical sales work perfectly in harmony with each other, literally in the case of Live Online.
“Online channels play a complementary role in the broader remarketing remit, offering alter-native or discrete selling channels to the traditional route.”
Online LCV sales growing rapidly
Sales of light commercials through BCA’s Live Online channel accounted for more than 25% of the total LCV sales last year, compared to 20% in 2010 and just 5% in 2009.
Live Online allows trade buyers to bid for vehicles on their laptop or PC against buyers in the auction hall in real-time.
BCA has also launched regular LCV sections via its daily Bid Now, Buy Now and e-auction online channels, meaning buyers have access to constantly refreshed commercial stock around the clock.
Ward adds: “We have some buyers who buy almost exclusively online, particularly when they are searching for more specialist commercial vehicles.
"If current levels of online activity are maintained, the number of LCVs sold online at BCA could well represent a third of the total volume this year.”
BCA analysis shows that the highest percentage of commercial vehicles sold online is the double-cab pick-up and stationwagon sector, with more than a third being purchased by Live Online buyers.
But there is interest across the broad range of body shapes and specifications, with around a fifth of all car-sized vans, panel vans, crew vans, tippers and dropsides and a quarter of lutons and minibuses selling online at BCA.
In the metal
Ward says: “While the age of the vehicle is no barrier to internet bidding, condition becomes more important in the online arena.
"It is important to provide buyers with detailed images and comprehensive descriptions, as well as universally understood grading information.”
But while online channels are growing in importance, the value of a widespread national auction infrastructure should not be underestimated.
Many professional buyers will continue to go to the auction hall because they prefer to see the vehicles ‘in the metal’ which is entirely understandable when buying often hard-worked commercial vehicles.
For corporate sellers, the ability to de-fleet vehicles into the nearest appropriate auction centre to begin the remarketing process is an important part of the service, clearing the decks for the replacement vehicles coming on to their fleet.