Selling your wool online

Can it be done, or is it a little too good to be true? Greg Miles investigates.

Many farmers market their own products, but how many, I wonder, have tried to market and sell their own wool? The website www.woolbuy.net promises to assist sellers and buyers of wool, yarn, or speciality fibre. “We envisage that the website will be used by sellers who have no access to auction systems, or who wish to sell independently,” says Victor Chesky, CEO of International Trade.

“Simply log in and see what you can buy, or list your wool for sale. This 24-hour interactive platform is easy to use and free to all. Anyone can log in and list their wool for sale and we’re not a party to any financial transactions between buyers and sellers.” As with most free websites, woolbuy.net supports itself through advertising. I must say, though, my initial reaction on first visiting this site was that perhaps it’s a little too good to be true. I could foresee numerous obstacles.

After going onto the website, prominent Cookhouse wool farmer Jules van Aardt agreed with me. Which company, for example, would test your wool for you and what would storage and testing costs be? With woolbuy.net very much a new marketing venture, I’m sure many farmers will be shaking their heads in incredulity. On the other hand, farmers these days need to think out of the box. And maybe we wool farmers need to become more proactive when marketing – not to mention more creative.

I’m sure that when Jeff Bezos left his job as vice-president of Wall Street firm DE Shaw and moved to Seattle, people thought he had gone crazy. Especially when they heard of his plan. But Jeff persevered. When it came to deciding on a name for his new company, he paged through a dictionary looking for ideas. One word caught his eye, as implying something ‘exotic’ and ‘different’ – exactly the qualities he was aiming for.

The word was ‘Amazon’ and, in March 2013, Jeff’s net worth was estimated at $25,2 billion (R250 billion).