August 13, 2015
Tech savvy farmers can often be found sifting through digital classifieds on their iPads while tractor driving.
Dwain Duxson operates the business FarmTender.com.au, an on-line buying and selling service for the agricultural industry, and believes the way farmers buy and sell goods is changing dramatically.
Mr Duxson said farming families were now embracing on-line forms of buying and selling.
Since Farm Tender was launched four years ago, the business has sold more than $35 million worth of farm machinery, goods, livestock and produce.
Farm Tender’s 10,000 members nation wide deal in trucks, farm machinery, livestock, fertiliser, grain, hay, fodder and chemicals.
Drawing 2000 unique visitors a day, the website sells items as large as land packages and headers worth $400,000 down to goods valued at $50.
Farm Tender is the digital version of the traditional newspaper classifieds but uses a business model which provides assistance during the selling or buying process.
“We have seen a change in the way farmers search for things on line – they are very specific about what they want and it doesn’t matter how far away the item is, they will travel if it is the right article,’’ Mr Duxon said.
“It is common for our clients to be sifting through listings on their iPad while driving a GPS-controlled tractor. They look for specific items such as tractor tyres, a type of hay to suit their dairy cows, or particular models of tractors, headers or trucks.
“The uptake is growing dramatically with both men and women of all ages.
“We can also list items on behalf of people or connect buyers and sellers if they are not so tech savvy.’’
Mr Duxon worked in the family business, Glendemar Merino Stud at Marnoo, in the Victorian Wimmera, until moving to the Murray River town of Yarrawonga to start Farm Tender.
“The phone service and internet speeds are much better in Yarrawonga than Marnoo,’’ he said.
“I was an early adopter of the internet and always interested in on-line trading.
“I realised the potential and could see a gap in the market.
“Farm Tender began as a simple buying service for farmers – if a farmer wanted to 100 tonnes of MAP, it would be listed and suppliers would put in quotes.
“But this quickly turned around and it became more of a selling service as well.’’
Mr Duxon said the website was designed to be user friendly and has evolved over the years as the business became more comprehensive.
“The website is the shop front but it is the people behind the business who really drive it,’’ he said.
“We can connect people, draw up contracts, provide insurance, and help with the buying and selling process.
“There are some specialist websites dealing in grain, hay, fodder, machinery and car sales but we cover everything.
“Trucks – second hand prime movers and grain trailers – are our most viewed item followed by machinery then hay and grain, while fertilisers is growing and we would like to expand our livestock section.
“We are not cutting out local businesses as they have an opportunity to trade things with us.’’
Membership is free and members can list items to sell and buy, with a fee charged only if the item is sold.
Staff include grains specialist Matt Henke, of Elmore, sales representative Paul Grayling, of Kerang, administration officer Bec Rumler, Ellen Garland and Jane Gervasoni, and web developer Richard Gonzoles.
Mr Duxson said the buying and selling process was secure with no phone numbers provided on the website to encourage scammers.
“When people buy grain, hay or machinery, payment is before or on pick-up,’’ he said.
“Photographs are provided of the items but more often than not, people like to inspect before they buy.
“The digital selling platform frees up the farmer’s time – they can list machinery while in the paddock through our iphone app.
“It’s an exciting space to be in – we plan to incorporate video within the next 12 months.’’
In 2013, Farm Tender added another layer to the business by partnering with Ag Finance and insurance specialists, Ag Guard.
A mobile app was launched in 2014 and is a free download from the iTunes store.
Farm Tender has exhibited at Henty for the past four years and attends many field days around the nation including Elmore, Lucindale, Wimmera, Orange, Farm World, Mildura, Riverina and Riverland.
“The field days are our only form of advertising as all our content is highly indexed on Google,’’ Mr Duxson said.
“They give us an opportunity to put a face to the name of our clients.’’