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Wired wool trading takes off

29 September 2000
Rural & Business Media; Farm Pages

Wired wool trading takes off
(490 words)

Woolnet, the internet-based wool trading system, has had its first $1 million month and now has more than 800 farmer clients – up from 350 in May.

WoolPro managing director Lance Wiggins says Woolnet’s sales are still small beer when compared to other major selling systems, but they’re heading in the right direction.

“Sales growth has been exponential at a time of the year when wool is scarce. At $1 million a month we are probably one of the biggest e-commerce sites in the country,” he says.

“With seven exporters actively buying on Woolnet, our biggest challenge now is to keep up with buyer demand. As fast as we sign up growers and list their wool, it goes out the door.”

WoolPro launched Woolnet last December into a somewhat sceptical market.

“We expected the response we got, but while the critics focussed on the limitations of our bare-bones prototype, we worked with enthusiasts who shared our vision,” he says.

“Ten months and five versions down the track, we have a system which is highly efficient. And it keeps getting better by the day.”

While Wiggins says it is likely to be a year or so before Woolnet comes to profit, it is already making money for the growers, service providers and exporters using the system.

“Woolnet makes farmers into strong sellers. They can deal direct with buyers and take personal control over their selling costs,” he says.

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“For the wool trade, Woolnet eliminates many problems associated with location.

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“For instance, North Island exporters can buy wool direct from farmers in Southland. Previously they would have used commission agents.

“In addition, Woolnet creates efficiencies in the supply chain from farm to scour or ship, which enables buyers using Woolnet to be price-competitive.”

One of the reasons for Woolnet’s emerging success, says Wiggins, is its flexibility.

“Farmers can forward list their wool, or wait until it is shorn. They can do the listing themselves or use an agent,”
he says.

“The farmer’s service provider or WoolPro can enter a valuation against the lot and the test house can enter weight and technical specifications.

“Then it’s up to the farmer whether they handle the selling, or whether they use an agent. Farmers don’t even need a computer or a personal link to the internet.”

The next Woolnet development will be bulk lot loading, which will allow service providers to load and unload multiple lots on behalf of grower clients.

The ultimate Woolnet development will be international trading, for which there is already considerable local and offshore demand, says Wiggins.

“But first we need to sign up more growers and get them used to selling on the net. The system is working well and now only needs volume to become a commercial success.”

Woolnet’s website can be found at


For more information, please ring Lance Wiggins
Tel 04 471 4670

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