Equipment Auction Website Ensures Iron-Clad Transactions

Nov. 1, 2007
Looking for a simpler and less expensive way to buy or sell used equipment without traveling countless miles to visit live auctions across the country?

Looking for a simpler and less expensive way to buy or sell used equipment without traveling countless miles to visit live auctions across the country? Such a place exists and more than 320,000 people are testing the auction waters from their own computers. And because rental companies are turning over 20 percent of equipment every year, online auctions are becoming an increasingly easier solution to dispose of inventory to reduce fleet age.

Located in Pleasanton, Calif., IronPlanet ( serves as an online marketplace and auction house for used construction equipment and trucks. The company claims to have the only site in the industry that takes the guesswork out of buying equipment through its detailed and “IronClad Assurance” inspection process.

Sellers have the option of requesting that their equipment be given an inspection, which creates buyer trust and confidence. These inspections include a point-by-point, detailed 4-star rating with extensive notes on each component including the current shape of all parts. Fuel samples and other fluid samples are taken and sent for complete analysis as well. The inspections also feature 15 to 30 photos of the equipment showing every nook and cranny, to give potential buyers enough images to make a fully informed purchase decision without physically being in front of the equipment.

Once equipment inspections have been completed and the products are registered with IronPlanet, the marketing team takes over and beefs up the publicity of the upcoming auction, which typically takes place once every two weeks on a Thursday. Before the actual auction, the team at IronPlanet sends out emails and makes phone calls to potential buyers to generate interest. Clients can peruse auction items online at their convenience during the two-week preview period. Bidding does not technically begin until auction day, however, buyers can place a bid on the website as well as set their maximum bid. They can continue bidding once the live auction starts, but the pre-bidding helps to get their foot in the door. If a bidder is away from his computer during the live auction, placing a maximum bid might be in his best interest to make sure he remains on top. Roughly 65 percent of items have bids already placed before the auction even opens.

The sales team at IronPlanet keeps the live auction running and the bids coming by closely watching each bid race and calling clients that either have been outbid, or clients that keep bidding. With real-time accuracy, the sales team sees all and can generate more buying competition by assisting buyers who want to keep bidding, and can even bid for a client who is at a jobsite and away from his computer.

Each product in the auction has a set bidding time of 10 minutes, with three-minute extensions for bids coming in with time running out. Most products are sold within that 10-minute time slot, however some products can take hours to wrap up with bidders unwilling to let their desired piece of equipment go to someone else.

Unlike equipment auctions at a physical location where bidders can see who they are competing against, IronPlanet bidders are likely to be from anywhere in the world. An excavator located in North Carolina and bid on by contractors in Georgia, California and Argentina can be sold to the end-user in Argentina in a matter of minutes. This world market just physically couldn't happen without the online auction. Equipment has been sold to end users in 70 different countries so far this year.

Once a piece of equipment has gone to the highest bidder, IronPlanet continues its assistance to both the seller and buyer by serving as the bill collector as well as providing the seller with bids from shipping companies to ensure that the transaction of equipment and money goes smoothly for both parties. The buyer has three business days to complete the transaction.

The IronPlanet auction on Oct. 25 sold more than 500 pieces of equipment and attachments for slightly less than $12 million. Serious cash for a company serious about increasing online auction exposure to the global market. IronPlanet plans to host online auctions with sellers located in Australia and Europe in 2008, and in Asia in 2009.

Submit new technology, computer products and websites for consideration in Megabytes to Katie Eagan Ernzen at [email protected].