Fleet News

Award winner’s profile: Web is tailor-made for auction houses

THE internet seems to have been tailor-made for the auction industry, no matter what customers are buying.

Buyers and sellers can meet in a virtual environment and create a perfect marketplace where items find their natural selling price at the touch of a button.

So it seems logical that one of the best auction sites available should have been developed with vehicles and the fleet industry in mind.

BCA Europe’s award-winning website, www.bca-europe.com is a portal to the heart of the remarketing industry.

Launched in 1997, it is one of the longest established websites in the motor industry and has offered the unique AuctionView service since 1998.

As well as providing a showroom for the BCA brand throughout Europe, it also offers a range of hi-tech services including online selling, electronic resources and guides and online account management.

Online sales have been embraced by the fleet industry, with major suppliers including Motability Operations, Bank of Scotland, Arval, Vauxhall, MG Rover, Ford, Citroen, Jaguar, Peugeot and Renault offering vehicles through Live Online sales.

BCA has recognised that the internet has a role in enhancing, rather than replacing the physical auction, so it can include an online element in a traditional auction, so buyers in the auction hall are competing against buyers over the internet with live bids.

It also offered online fixed price sales, aimed at presenting cars to buyers through dealers, while there is also an electronic tender system, where sealed or open bids can be placed on vehicles over a given period.

In addition, the website carries a list of cars due for auction, a non-trade stock locator for private buyers, a commercial auction view sister website, digital sales guide and an automatic email alerts service.

One of the most impressive aspects of the service is also its pricing review, where it takes a sample of cars sold at auction and provides a direct comparison with what residual value experts CAP Motor Research and Glass’s Guide have predicted. Little wonder then that the website attracts nearly 7,200 visits a day, equivalent to 647,000 in the past three months.

Tony Gannon, the firm’s commercial strategy and communications director, said: ‘BCA ‘inventory manages’ more than £3 billion worth of our customers money annually.

‘As a service company, it is our duty to explore every technological avenue and remarketing channel for the benefit of our customers.

‘The internet was identified early on by BCA as being key to the company’s future plans and have been leveraged in a number of ways to benefit the customer base.’

This includes providing wider services such as white label products to dealers, including the Audi Stockmarket, which allows dealers to see available stock from the manufacturer in the search for particular cars that customers might want.

The Fleet News Awards judges agreed the service was hitting the spot with the industry as they awarded it the category win the second year running. The site also took the Best Online Fleet Initiative in the 2001 awards.

Constant development means the site has become a portal for customers, with links taking them throughout the industry.

This includes a new tracking facility to help buyers keep an eye on vehicles they want.

Gannon added: ‘Not many websites have as much dynamic content available to customers. We have to make dozens of updates a day, particularly as the website serves a pan-European auction audience.’

What the judges said

‘A VAST online resource providing something for everyone, operated by pan-European auction giant BCA. Offers a wide range of links and access to everything from sale brochures to your own personalised sale list and access to AuctionView, still the market-leading resource for online price comparison for any fleet wanting to get an overview of what prices it can expect at market and how they will compare with guide values.’

A perfect blend of old and new . . .

BRITISH Car Auctions vowed a few years ago that the internet would dominate its future plans, but there would still be a clear commitment to physical auction centres.

The firm insists that the key to developing a successful web-based sales business is to build a service around a strong network of physical auction sites.

This was hammered home this year with the official opening of a its new £12.5 million Bedford Remarketing Centre.

The centre will hold a minimum of three sales every week and the programme includes cars and both light and heavy commercials.

UK managing director Andrew Hulme said: ‘Developments of this scale are unique to BCA within the UK auction industry and the latest design standards are incorporated to provide a first class facility with the emphasis on customer services.’

The centre, which employs 100 people, includes the facility for online bidders to compete against buyers in the auction hall.

As if to emphasise how its internet services go hand-in-hand with physical auctions, the opening is the largest UK development for over a decade, since the similarly sized BCA Nottingham was built in 1994.

Key contacts

  • Tom Madden, director of customer affairs
  • Jon Olsen, chief executive
  • Andrew Hulme, managing director
  • Paul Bradbury, managing director of BCA’s mainland Europe operations
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