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April 28 2015:

CA (ON): OFG to launch new virtual auction system

Ontario Flower Growers (OFG) are ready to launch their Virtual Auction tomorrow, April 28. "The test run was held last Wednesday, April 21 and everything went well." explains Shaun Parish of Ontario Flower Growers.

"We first saw this Virtual product being offered on the Vancouver floral auction (UFG) three years ago. At that moment, we thought it would be something for us to try at some point", says Shaun. So, over the last 2 years they have tried to work with some informal virtual auctions where they stopped their 2 existing clocks and let some virtual product go through. However, they were not able to completely shift to virtual actions because their existing hardware and systems weren’t really meant for these virtual auctions. Therefore, they upgraded their gallery and software last January. "We now have 4 projector clocks, 2 of which are used for on-site gallery auctions and 2 of which we will use for off-site virtual auctions."

The first virtual test auction. "The first time we’ve had 3 clocks running at once."

The buyers have the option to browse a product by using the OFG's new Remote Buying software that allows them to view pictures of the product. These pictures are provided by the growers before the auction begins. While browsing the product lines the buyer can choose to purchase specific lots right away through a feature called Pre-Auction Purchasing (PAP). "PAP is when a grower makes a certain percentage of his product available for purchase before the auction begins. The price is slightly higher than a stop price on auction, but the buyer has guaranteed themselves a purchase", explains Shaun. The buyers can also pre-bid on a product, either virtual or on-site. "This does not guarantee a purchase but it does give the buyers a chance to rationally think about what they are willing to pay and it leaves them free to do other things while the auction is going on."

According to Shaun, the virtual auction is an ideal method of sale for their OFG's growers. "The product is already sold before it is even cut and delivered. Therefore, the quality of the flowers stays high. Currently, the flowers travel many kilometers before reaching their destination. With this virtual system, the grower knows exactly what he has sold and what he has to bring to OFG."

How do you think the auction will develop in the future? "We expect that in time virtual sales will surpass on-site sales as both buyers and growers get used to this new method of sale", he concludes.

For more information
Ontarion Flower Growers
Shaun Parish