Aston Barclay develops industry-first Alexa-based auction briefing

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UK remarketing company Aston Barclay has developed a new auction briefing service for users of Alexa, the cloud-based digital assistant from online retail giant Amazon.

Customers can obtain details of the UK auction company’s programme by asking the digital assistant for a ‘flash briefing’, after setting up the auction alerts feature.

Alexa will automatically announce auction activity at key sites over the next 24 hours either via the Amazon Echo smart speaker or via smartphone when the Alexa app is installed. Aston Barclay believes the innovation is a first in the remarketing industry.

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Stewart Ford, Aston Barclay’s group IT director, said: “It’s a bit of fun, but it also plays a major part in our digital technology testing before rolling out to customers.

“Voice recognition is becoming an important channel to access information in your house, your car and office and we need to be mindful of adapting our technology to enable customers to engage with us in this way.”

Aston Barclay has plans to double in size by 2022 and is undergoing a major expansion programme that includes wide-ranging use of innovative technology.

The growth follows a multi-million-pound investment in the business as part of a management buyout, supported by Rutland Partners.

The MBO was led by chief executive officer Neil Hodson, who brings more than 25 years’ experience to Aston Barclay, having held senior roles at Manheim, HPI and Experian.

Innovations have included the launch of a buyer and vendor smartphone app, which recognises that nearly half of all the company’s web traffic comes via mobile.

Digital services are at the heart of every auction centre, with the aim of creating a seamless connection between the physical auction hall and online bidding.

The Alexa service will be showcased at tours of its latest network expansion next year, with the opening of a new northern auction centre in Wakefield.