Equipment

Meet Machinio: The online marketplace for GSE

Meet Machinio: The online marketplace for GSE
Machinio is an e-commerce platform for used commercial equipment (Image credit: Adobe Stock)

Machinio is a US-based e-commerce platform for used commercial equipment that serves a wide range of industries, including agriculture, construction, machine tools and, most importantly, the second-hand ground support equipment (GSE) market. Airside finds out more

According to Robin Hargadon, general manager of Machinio, the need for used GSE post-Covid is on the up – and with the aviation industry predicting a huge surge in demand for air travel in the next two decades, second-hand equipment could play a vital role in ensuring enough GSE is available to serve commercial aircraft worldwide.

That’s where Machinio identifies a gap in the market. The e-commerce business aims to be the “leader in the most comprehensive platform for second-hand vehicles and machinery”, Hargadon says, serving both buyers and sellers of used ground support equipment.

“Today, I’d say we’ve met that goal of becoming a worldwide and comprehensive, online platform for used equipment. We have clients – including dealers, brokers and auctioneers who are looking to sell equipment – in more than 140 countries,” the general manager explains.

“We have a couple million users coming to Machinio, whether it’s machinio.com or our localised domains like machinio.de, machinio.it and so on, searching for used equipment and getting in touch with the sellers of that equipment.”

Indeed, Machinio, a subsidiary of the e-commerce marketplace holding company Liquidity Services, serves second-hand buyers and sellers worldwide with local domains registered for Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Japan, China and Brazil.

The subscription model 

To browse Machinio and enquire about listings, it is “completely free”, according to Hargadon. “We do not take any sort of fee from the buyers’ side or any form of commission from sellers. We work completely on a subscription basis.”

Advertisers, known as ‘members’, pay a subscription to list used equipment. And, as Hargadon outlines: “We are more of a search engine rather than a transactional marketplace.”

Although Machinio is not directly involved in any transaction made through its websites, the company tries to understand as much as it can from the sales is facilitates. This includes the price the equipment was sold for, who it was sold to and what country it was sold from.

“That data helps us develop our platform – but the transaction is completed privately between the two parties. We’re able to keep track of, including what the trends and demand for this used equipment are, what types of GSE are the hottest right now in terms of searches for this equipment on our website and also seasonality.”

‘Demand is going up’… 

Using the data from transactions on Machinio allows the company to understand the markets for the different industries it serves – and used GSE is in high demand, Hargadon suggests. In the last 18 to 24 months, in fact, demand for second-hand ground support equipment has grown faster than any other commercial equipment for other industries.

Indeed, post-Covid, it seems there is an increasing reliance on used GSE as an alternative to new equipment, as operators look to balance the books. And serving “niche” markets like GSE has enabled Machinio to make a name for itself.

Where there are other platforms for equipment serving agriculture or construction, for example, Machinio has become the “go-to platform” to trade second-hand GSE, Hargadon claims.

“We have come along and inserted ourselves as the market leader for used [GSE] to trade online [and] we work with most of the biggest names that trade used equipment.

“But it’s only recently that we’ve started to work with these companies so it’s hard to say whether the trends we see on Machinio are more because of our company’s growth or because of any macro industrial trends.

“So, yes, we’ve seen the demand increase but it’s hard for us to pinpoint exactly when that is or why that is – and whether that’s disconnected from Machinio’s individual growth in this sector.”

… But which markets are most reliant on second-hand equipment?

Demand for used GSE is up, says Machinio’s general manager – but where most? As a US-based company, North America is its biggest regional market with the United States being Machinio’s biggest single-country market.

Behind the US is the UK, Germany and Canada. “They’re all about the same size in terms of the number of machines we list from those countries and the amount of business we generate,” Hargadon outlines.

“Then it’s countries like Italy, Spain, China – and China is a big growth opportunity for us right now which we’re focusing on. But North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific are our biggest markets.”

Eastward expansion 

According to Hargadon, there are new opportunities to be seized in the Chinese market. A “big focus” right now, Machinio aims to double, then triple, its footprint in China in the next 12 and 18 months, respectively.

But, the general manager concedes: “Working in China compared to working in the West has its own very unique challenges – especially in the used equipment market there.

“We are taking the time to understand that market and position ourselves to serve what we see as two different main goals for Chinese equipment sellers.”

Firstly, Hargadon identifies, is intra-China sales. The e-commerce site wants to be able to generate local demand and serve sellers that are looking to sell equipment within China.

Secondly, “oversaturated” markets mean second-hand sellers are looking solely to export equipment – be it to the mature aviation markets in the West, such as North America and Europe, or “developing geographies” like the Middle East, Africa or South America, says Hargadon.

He adds: “This requires us to position our business differently and tweak how we display Chinese listed equipment and promote that around the world so that people searching on Google or Machinio would be interested in buying that equipment.

“We try and say, ‘We know some of this older equipment in China, while it might not have a home there anymore, might be in big demand in places like South America or the Middle East or Africa’.

“So we can try and position that equipment where there is going to be demand for it and try and facilitate those connections between buyers and sellers there.”

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