So simple even a baby can use Simulcast
"When we first launched Simulcast back in 2004, we had no idea how quickly our buyers would take to using it,’ admits Liz Bailey, Manheim’s Head of Online Technology. ‘Nor that it would be so simple to use that to even a baby could buy a car."
Liz’s smile suggests that there is a little more to her last comment than meets the eye, but before she shares that particular Simulcast legend, she first explains why Manheim introduced its award-winning system.
"We kept hearing that for some of our buyers, attending physical auctions wasn’t always possible, yet they didn’t want to miss out on buying stock. So we wondered if there was a way we could use advances in technology to help them be in two places at one."
Simulcast was an existing product that Manheim found in the USA. After acquiring the system and applying some good-old UK logic, the auction giants first launched it to their buyers in 2004. Liz Bailey admits that even they were surprised by the speed at which Manheim’s buyers accepted it.
"We wanted to make it simple for our buyers to attend as many auctions as possible,’ she says. ‘However, back then online buying was really new and some of our buyers and ourselves to a certain extent, were quite sceptical."
See live auctions without attending live auctionsLiz needn’t have worried. The industry was quickly won over by how simple the system was. From day one, users were able to log onto Simulcast using their PCs and watch multiple auctions broadcast live from the comfort of their own desks.
"Our buyers loved the convenience," says Liz. "They could see and hear the auction live, watch vehicles drive through the lanes in real-time, communicate with the auctioneer and compete to buy as if they were standing right there in the Manheim hall itself."
When Simulcast was originally launched in May 2004, just 36 vehicles were bought and by the end of that year, the total of Simulcast sales stood at 900. It was early days and the technology was brand new, so it took a while for customers to get used to the Simulcast concept. However, by the end of the following year, Simulcast was responsible for over 3,000 vehicle sales.
Since those initial years, Manheim’s buyers have embraced the technology so much that by the time of Simulcast’s ten year anniversary in May 2014, the number of monthly sales alone had risen to 6,500.
Much of Simulcast’s incredible success has been down to Manheim’s continued support and investment in the technology, as Liz Bailey explains.
"Simulcast Two was a real game-changer for us. The enhanced system was introduced in 2013, allowing us to broadcast our auctions live to smart phones and tablets. Customers were now no longer tied to their desks – they could quite literally bid and buy from any location with an internet connection. And they did."
Liz fondly recalls one sale in particular, which perfectly encapsulated how customers quickly embraced the opportunities that Simulcast delivers.
Buying vehicles from the back of a tractor"I got an excited call one day from the General Manager of our Gloucester centre, telling me he’d sold a commercial vehicle. I congratulated him, but then politely asked if that wasn’t what we paid him to do? He replied by saying… no Liz, you don’t get it; this was bought by a farmer using his iPad whilst standing on a tractor in the middle of his field!!
I think that was the moment I knew for sure that Simulcast would be a success.
Since then, I’ve had stories of buyers stood fishing in rivers whilst buying on their mobiles, playing golf and buying at the same time, even buying cars from a plane, 43,000ft up in the air."
For most buyers, Simulcast has more practical benefits. Using it enables them to combine a hands-on role running their business with the ability to attend auctions and buy stock from any Manheim location in the UK.
In 2014, over 75,000 vehicles sold via SimulcastLiz Bailey is quick to point out how Simulcast has changed the way Manheim’s buyers now do business. "Switched on buyers use Simulcast to attend two or three or even ten or more auctions at the same time. For them, distance is no longer an issue and nor is travel time. All our auctions take place at the same location – on our customers’ phone, tablet, laptop or PC. And it’s now become so popular and so essential that last year over 75,000 vehicles were bought via Simulcast."
As with most innovations, launching Simulcast across Manheim’s network wasn’t without its challenges and the smile returns to Liz Bailey’s face as she recounts two particularly memorable incidents.
"There have been times when I wonder if we’ve done too good a job by making Simulcast so easy to use," she says. "Like the time a buyer called to say that although it looked like he’d just bought a car, he hadn’t really…his cat had apparently walked across his keyboard and pressed the Bid button by mistake.
"And then there was the customer who was watching Simulcast whilst holding his baby. Just as bidding reached a crucial moment, the baby’s dummy fell out of its mouth and – yep, you’ve guessed it – landed straight on the Bid button, accidentally winning the auction."
Perhaps stories like this just goes to show that for some Manheim customers buying vehicles using Simulcast is so simple its child’s play.
Find out more about bidding and buying using Simulcast here >