Interview with Guido Ottens from AGRAVIS Technik Center GmbH
Agriculture is facing major structural changes and the agricultural machinery industry is bound to be affected by them. Guido Ottens, General Director of AGRAVIS Technik Center GmbH, explains how agricultural cooperatives can respond to these transformations. In an interview with Agriaffaires, Guido Ottens talks about the online agricultural machinery market, the European competition and the offers and services that have established AGRAVIS as one of the most successful resellers of used agricultural machinery in Germany and throughout Europe.
Mr Ottens, could you please tell us about the AGRAVIS and AGRAVIS Technik Center GmbH group?
Ottens: AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG is a modern agricultural cooperative engaged in the fields of agricultural products, animal nutrition, crop production and farming machinery. It is also involved in the energy and construction sectors. With a workforce of 6100 employees, AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG makes over 7.4 billion euros in annual turnover and is one of the market leaders, with approximately 400 entities in Germany. We are also active internationally via subsidiaries and investment companies in over 20 countries and via export activities in over 100 countries across the world.
AGRAVIS Technik Center GmbH is a subsidiary of AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG. Our mission is to commercialise the used agricultural machines of our 25 branches, across 105 locations in Germany and abroad.
How important is the Internet for your business / for the agricultural equipment market?
Ottens: The Internet is very important to us as a sales opportunity. The majority of our customers search the internet to find information regarding machines. Our online presence allows us to partake in global competition and reach out to new target groups. In order to sell our machines successfully, we use various distribution channels, such as auction sites, sales platforms and obviously, online marketplaces.
Why have you chosen to place advertisements on the Agriaffaires website?
Ottens: We simply asked ourselves the question: How does a customer find the machine he is looking for? One way is undoubtedly through Agriaffaires. The website represents 6.2 million visits a month from 160 different countries. We could not miss out on such an opportunity and wanted to engage in the competition alongside the other professionals present on the website.
Is there increased competition between European dealers?
Ottens: Yes, there is. For geopolitical reasons, we have lost Russia as an export market. The consequence of this is an increasing supply market throughout the European Union and a rising pressure on prices. In Western Europe, used machinery stocks are growing – which is why it is more and more important to find new markets.
What challenges are farm equipment dealers facing today?
Ottens: The main issue is finding new pathways to commercialise agricultural machinery – and not just in Europe but on a worldwide scale. The biggest challenge and opportunity is the Asian market. Due to its rapid development, this market represents a high potential.
How do you see the future of the agricultural machinery market?
Ottens: More international and more professional. The regional market will undergo important changes. In the future, there will be fewer farmers who will operate increasingly larger farm units. For the retailer, this means that there will be a demand for fewer but bigger machines. Automation and digitalisation, or the phenomenon known as “precision farming”, will play a very important role in the future of agriculture.
How do you gain the trust of your clients?
Ottens: Whether customers are looking to buy a machine on site, online or by telephone – it is important for them to find what they are looking for and trust us enough to purchase a machine without having seen it beforehand. This is where our “country managers” play an essential role: they answer all customer queries in French, Polish, English and seven other foreign languages. Trust is often built over the years and lies on the fact that AGRAVIS does not only offer machines for sale, but a complete service package which includes trade in, repair and inspection services. We place great importance in handling used machines just as we would new ones.
Can you tell us about atc-trader and ab-auction?
Ottens: www.atc-trader.com helps clients find used farming machinery online. Our 25 branches’ full-range offer of used machinery is presented on the website. With the search tool, online visitors can easily find what they are looking for among over 3000 machines and equipment items in stock at AGRAVIS. Our multilingual platform is an interesting tool for customers all around the world who wish to have access to used machinery.
www.ab-auction.com is AGRAVIS and BayWa’s common online auction platform. Since the end of 2013, it presents a selection of farm equipment among the two cooperatives’ 8000 machines. Since the beginning of 2015, ab-auction.com offers new features to customers. In addition to auctions, it is also possible to purchase a machine directly or propose a purchase price. The selection of machines intended for this direct sale option is complementary to the range put up for auction. To benefit from all the features displayed on ab-auction.com, users can create an online account for free. Auctions take place every odd Tuesday from 7:00 pm.
What are your future plans for both of these websites?
Ottens: I would simply like to say: Come and visit us from November 10 to 14 at Agritechnica 2015 in Hannover. We will be very happy to welcome you on our stand in Hall 20 and tell you more about our websites and offers.
Thank you for the interview!