For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been discussing the e-commerce revolution that really started taking off in the late 90’s, and still has yet to reach it’s peak today. In this post, we’re going to explore one of the biggest parts of this revolution which is online auctions websites.
Selling items via online auctions can potentially be much more lucrative than selling items directly, depending, of course, on the type of items that are being auctioned. What I want to discuss specifically regarding online auctions is which types of items sell well in auctions, the advantages of online auctions, and the disadvantages of online auctions. I’m also going to give you a list of online auction platforms where you can sell your own items for no upfront costs.
First, let’s discuss the types of products or items that sell the best via auctions.
Which are the best types of items to sell in an auction?
Before online auction platforms came into existence, if you wanted to sell anything via auction, you could only do so with certain types of items. Nowadays, with the availability of online auctions, you can list just about anything that you want to for sale to the highest bidder, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Just as it was in the days before online auctions existed, not every item that you can sell will get great results in an auction.
So, what criteria should you use to determine whether you should auction something, or take the direct sale approach instead? If the products or items that you want to sell fall into any of the following categories, I would say that you may want to consider selling them auction style to the highest bidder.
Rare, collectible, unique, or valuable items
Any item that isn’t being sold in mass quantity works well for an auction. If the item that you are selling is not something that I can just go pick up at any retail store or grocery store, or if it’s an item that is not easy to find, then putting it up for auction may be something to consider, as you can probably sell it for more than your original asking price.
High ticket items
Any item that can be considered a high ticket item is always good to auction. Things such as real estate, vehicles, expensive equipment, and jewelry would fall into the high ticket category.
High demand items
You could have an item that has been mass produced, but is in such a high demand, that it sells out in stores very quickly. If you want to auction an item like this, you would generally have a limited time to do so, as such items that have a demand like that are only in such high demand when they are first released onto the market. You’ll need to get items like this up for auction and sold within that short window of time before the hype dies down.
Limited edition items
There are certain items that are produced in a limited quantity and, once these items are sold out, nobody else can buy them again, ever, unless of course someone that owns one of these items decides to re-sell theirs. Anything that is produced in a limited quantity is a great item to consider auctioning.
Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of selling things via the auction method.
Advantages Of Auctioning Your Items
Assuming that the item or items you want to sell fall into one of the above categories, there are several advantages to putting them up for auction. Let’s see what these advantages are.
You end up selling items for potentially A LOT more than what you expect
The beautiful thing about auctions is that you can set a minimum acceptable price and, from there, the sky is the limit. If you end up getting just two people that really want the item that you’re auctioning badly enough, you may end up selling it for 10X your asking price or sometimes even for far more!
In some cases, you can sell items faster.
When people know that they have a limited time to purchase an item, there is a sense of urgency there that could have your item sold for much faster than if you were to go the direct sale approach.
You know exactly when your items will be sold
As the person auctioning your items, you get to set a time limit on when people can place there bids, therefore, you know exactly when your item will be sold.
No haggling or negotiating necessary
When you have potential buyers in competition against one another, it prevents them from trying to haggle with you for a lower price.
Auctions work well in a good or a bad economy
People love sales, and studies show that auctions attract buyers regardless of the state of the economy.
Sell your seasonal, discontinued, or damaged goods at a profit instead of having them incur the cost of storing them
This strategy allows businesses to sell the items that they have a lower demand for, without having to lose money because said items did not sell.
Auctions help you set a market price for your products based on supply and demand.
If you have a new product that has never before been introduced to the public, this is a great strategy to determine what you should price the item at when it goes on sale to the masses.
Find out what consumers are willing to pay for a product without doing expensive or time consuming market research
Many companies spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars every year on consumer research alone, while auctioning a new product before making it available for purchase could potentially save them these costs.
Disadvantages of Auctioning Your Items
While there are some tremendous advantages to selling certain items in an auction, there are also disadvantages that come with auctions as well, so lets talk about them so you know everything that comes with the territory.
You may get stuck selling items for a lower price than you want to or expect to
Sure, with auctions you can set a minimum price, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the price you want to ultimately sell your item for and, unfortunately, this can sometimes be the case in an auction.
Auctions can deter some buyers because of their competitive nature
While there are many people that love auctions, there are also people that hate them. Bidding for items in an auction comes with certain pressures that some people just don’t want in their shopping or buying experiences.
You may have trouble auctioning items that are not keyword driven or already of interest
In the world of e-commerce, even in online auctions, keywords are a huge factor that drives traffic to, or away from your products. This is something that must be considered before you decide whether to auction an item or a product.
Buyers have the opportunity to back out
There is always a possibility that you have a prospect win your auction, only to ultimately decide that they don’t want to pay their bid or or that they no longer want the item. In that case they can refuse to pay for the item forcing you to accept the next highest bid, or worse, start the auction process all over. Now, we’re you to sell the item directly, depending on your return policy, the sale could be final.
Not all items sell well in auctions
If you are selling items that do not fall into one of the categories we discussed earlier, then you could get poor results if you try the auction approach and may be better off selling them directly.
Lack of search indexing
Most auctions, due to their temporary nature, are not on sale long enough to be indexed by Google or other major search engines, which means that a lesser number of people will be aware of your listing.
As mentioned in the previous point, not as many people will be aware of your items that you are selling due to the fact that there is a limited time for people to bid on the items, and most items up for auction do not get indexed by the major search engines by the time the auction ends.
Lack of automation
When you have an item listed for sale online at a set price, the sales process is automatic, whereas with auctions, you need to be more hands on.
Payments are not immediate
When you have set prices for your products or items you want to sell, your buyers pay the asking price, and they pay for it on the spot, whereas in an auction, you have to wait for the auction to be over to recieve a payment.
Online Auction Platforms
Now that we’ve discussed the types of items that are good for auctions, and we’ve looked at both the pros and the cons of selling via online auctions, I’m going to list all of the online auction platforms that I’m aware of so that you too are aware of them in case you are ever interested in selling items via this method.
This website enables you to host silent auctions online for fundraising purposes free of charge.
If you own a piece of art by a famous artist that you would like to auction, you may want to do so through this website as opposed to using a general auction site like Ebay.
Open an Auction Blox online storefront for free that you can embed on your own website. Integrates easily with Ebay and Amazon.
Auction Zip connects you with bidders in your own community and from around the world. Features include free email marketing, free featured listings, extended customer support hours, payment processing, fraud prevention, and timed sales online.
Free, open-source, silent auctions from the makers of Hub Spot.
If you own a website domain name that you no longer want or need, Bido is the place to put it up for auction.
Sell your used car for cash through this online vehicle auction website.
I couldn’t have published this post in good conscience without mentioning the king of online auctions, which is none other than Ebay, of course!
On eBid, you can register as a seller for free. As a seller on eBid, you may open up to 5 online eBid stores in which you can sell your products direct, or auction style. There are no fees to list products, and eBid only takes 3% of any sales.
Click. Click. Bang! Bang! What is auctioned on this site should be obvious. Gun lovers, check it out!
On this platform, you can auction or sell guns & ammo, survival gear, and outdoor products.
Like Ebay, this is a general auction site where you can auction just about anything.
This is an online network of professional auctioneers and avid auction buyers. You can apply to consign items with Live Auctioneers and, if an auctioneer accepts your item, they will auction it for you for no upfront free, and take only a percentage of the winning bid.
If you own any rare stamps or an entire stamp collection, you can consign your stamps to Noble Spirit which has consistently achieved world record prices on Ebay auctions.
This is a platform where you can auction the rights to, or the license to use your patented inventions.
This is an auction platform specifically for gamers, where you can auction and sell your in-game currency, gold, coins, items, skins, accounts, power leveling, boosting, and CD keys.
If you want to sell on this auction platform, you must apply to do so because Proxy Bid “makes sure that only sellers of the highest caliber are in their marketplace.” If you make the cut, however, what that means for you is that your listings will attract buyers of a higher caliber.
This is an Ebay alternative where you can auction both physical and digital items.
Store returns auctions and wholesale auctions online.
The go-to online auction marketplace for new, overstock, closeout, and recertified products.
Web Store is essentially a free classifieds website where you can sell or auction your new, used, and hard to find items with no fees whatsoever, so you make a 100% profit.
By now, you should have a good idea of what types of items do well in auctions, the advantages that you get from selling items via online auctions, the disadvantages that you should prepare for when you sell in auctions, and which online auction platforms would work best for the item or items that you want to sell. If you know of any other free online auction platforms that were not mentioned in this post, please mention them for us in the comment section below. Of the auction websites that I did mention, which ones were your favorites?
In the next post for this series, we’re going to explore online platforms where you can sell your music, sound effects, and other types of audio products for no upfront costs.
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Thank you for reading!