Ritchie Bros.’ next Dubai auction to be an online-only and ‘timed bidding’ event

The 29-30 June 2020 auction in Dubai will be an unreserved timed auction, where online bidding opens on 24 June and closes at staggered times during the auction dates.


Due to COVID-19, all Ritchie Bros. auctions worldwide are temporarily being held as online-only sales events where items are sold exclusively to online bidders. Recently, for the first time, the company’s Edmonton auction was held as an online-only event which attracted over 23,500 online bidders from 58 countries, setting a new company attendance record. One hundred percent of the equipment in the auction was sold to online buyers, including 20% purchased through Ritchie Bros.’ mobile application. 

The next auction to be held in Dubai on 29-30 June 2020 will follow the same model, with an additional feature called ‘timed bidding’. A timed auction, unlike a live sale, is an automated auction that does not require an auctioneer. Online bidding for timed auctions opens a few days before the auction date and closes at staggered times during the auction. Every item is sold to the highest bidder when bidding closes. Bidding for the June auction in Dubai opens on 24 June and individual items close at staggered times during the last two days (29-30 June). Viewing and inspection of equipment is allowed during 24-30 June.

Eduard Faig, regional sales manager, Middle East, Africa, Asia Sub Continent, Ritchie Bros., says: “Our first online timed auction in Dubai will have no auctioneer, bid catchers or a big crowd bidding in the auction theater. We will allow pre-auction equipment inspections at the site under strict rules of limited visitor numbers, social distancing and sanitary protocols. Our top priorities are keeping our employees and customers safe, while also protecting their respective livelihoods and continuing to serve our customers’ changing business needs.”

The timed auction bidding system was developed by Ritchie Bros. a decade ago and upgraded through the years, but it was primarily used for equipment attachments and other smaller items sold at live auctions. This system is now being deployed for the entire range of heavy equipment, vehicles and accessories sold at selected Ritchie Bros. auctions this year. 

A unique feature of a timed auction is ‘maximum bid’, which allows a bidder to enter the maximum amount up to which he or she is willing to bid. The system automatically starts with the lowest bid possible and then bids up to the amount specified. The maximum bid amount is not revealed, and the bid is raised by the system only if someone outbids the bidder.

When time is running out on an item, any new bids placed will cause additional time to be added to the closing time of the lot. This gives the bidder an opportunity to react and place another bid before the lot is sold. Bidders can opt for notifications in a timed auction, via email and/or SMS to know when they have been outbid or if an item was sold to them.

The maximum bid feature is beneficial for bidders who don’t wish to stay online and prefers the system to bid for them. Those who want to place bids in increments manually can use the ‘quick bid’ feature. 

“Holding our auctions entirely online without auctioneers is a temporary solution. We have several ways of doing online auctions but we found that our timed auctions work extremely well in this situation. A timed auction is an entirely different auction method and experience compared to a live auction with online bidding. The response to timed auctions in Europe have been very good. Customers who never used it understand it quickly and like using it; they love the simplicity of the system,” says Faig.

Despite the COVID-19 situation and moving to online-only auctions, demand remains strong and selling prices are holding up well, according to Faig.

“Our teams are working hard to turn the challenges in advantages for our customers, and that is what are focused on right now. Because of the COVID-19 situation, some of the needs of our customers are changing; for example, they ask us more often to support them with logistics. We are still seeing quality items coming to our auctions and marketplaces. Our next Dubai auction features both used and unused, low hours items from top brands; especially for these items, we see good appetite from the international market,” says Faig.

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