Online auction sites for live auctions
It’s been almost four years since eBay shut down its live auction service which incorporated real auction houses with online auctions. The market wanted to focus on creating an experience similar to retail. Live auctions did not fit this vision.
Since eBay pulled the hammer away in late 2008, auction houses and online auction sites have been left to evolve virtual live auctions for themselves. Although eBay, the grandfather of online auction sites, has ended live auctions on their site, the demand for this type of auction is still high.
âThe live online auction sector is quite large and, honestly, it’s hard to put a figure on it because it’s a moving target,â says Dana Kaufman, communications director at Proxibid, one of the main sites of online auctions.
Proving that there is life outside of eBay
Two of eBay’s original partner auction houses, Live auctioneers and iCollector, continue to bring over 1,000 global auction houses each under their umbrellas and into your living room. Their customers place upcoming auction items in site catalogs, making real-time auctions available to bidders who cannot be there in person.
For sellers who have one or two items to sell, LiveAuctioneers can put you in touch with auction houses
Each auction house has its own set of payment rules and generally does not accept PayPal. They are likely to charge taxes and a âbuyer’s premium,â which is a percentage of the winning bid. You should therefore read the article page carefully.
Bidders find everything from real estate to art sales across the world, and online sellers can even use the sites to research selling prices. For sellers who think they have an item or two for sale through one of the auction houses, LiveAuctioneers offers a service to connect you with their customers for consignment opportunities.
Proxibid is evolving
Among the many online auction sites is Proxibide, which offers access to live and timed auctions.
âWe started as a marketing and technology company for auction companies,â the website says. âOur start as an add-on for auction companies wishing to put their auctions online has served us well. We have developed relationships with over 2,500 auction companies and hundreds of thousands of auctioneers around the world.
Proxibid offers a large number of agricultural, commercial and equipment auctions, but buyers can also find all other types of auctions under the sun there. Again, each auction company has their own set of payment rules, so watch out for buyer’s taxes, shipping, and premiums. To sell on Proxibid, you have to submit an application and pay an auction fee, which is usually why auction houses recoup their costs by charging a buyer’s premium.
A place for small auctioneers
Perhaps for the small business or new online seller, a good online auction site to try is Outbid. It’s a free service that allows sellers to host their own live auctions. The seller becomes the auctioneer and is responsible for inviting bidders and attracting RSVPs. The site is integrated with Facebook, which makes the auctions easily shareable with social connections. The idea is to invite your friends or your Facebook fans, and they will invite their friends, and so on.
Since this is a relatively new platform, Outbid has yet to build a large following, but it is risk free as there is no cost. Plus, as with any live auction, the experience doesn’t last for days, just minutes. Payments are made through PayPal and you do not need to be present to hold the auction.
Social auctions appeal to the youngest
âBuyers and sellers don’t always want to just transact, sometimes they want to establish real dialogue and relationships with each other. “
Most online auction sites attract Internet users between the ages of 45 and 65, but another of the newer auction houses on the Internet attracts large crowds of users between the ages of 25 and 45, mostly women.
Tophatter provides entertainment and a realistic experience by incorporating avatars, chats and virtual auction rooms.
âWe believe that buyers and sellers don’t always want to just transact, sometimes they want to establish a real dialogue and relationship with each other,â the website says.
You don’t need to be a certified auctioneer to sell on the site, which makes the platform more user-friendly for small businesses, but sellers pay up to $ 5 per scheduled item, and between $ 5. % and 13% of the gross sale, not to mention the usual PayPal processing fees.
To buy or sell on Tophatter, all you need to do is create a free profile and link it to your PayPal account. On auction day, buyers and sellers enter the auction room and use the chat feature to mingle while the auction is taking place. If the seller is present when their item is on the block, their avatar is moved to the front of the virtual auction room and bidders can ask relevant questions.
The majority of sales on Tophatter are jewelry and craft supplies, which may explain the high number of users. Tophatter is a community friendly platform. He makes every effort to interact regularly via Facebook, town hall meetings and his blog. Instant live chat with staff is available on the auction site, and community “hosts” are available in the virtual auction rooms. Tophatter also allows you to host your own community auction if you wish, but it’s up to you to advertise and attract bidders.
Still room for alternatives
eBay is still one of the top 10 most visited sites on the Internet in the United States, but that doesn’t stop physical auction houses from gaining traction on the web. LiveAuctioneers remains in the competition with web traffic beyond the others mentioned, while the young Outbid still struggles to grow its audience.
But size and longevity don’t necessarily win out. While Proxibid has been around for at least a decade longer than Tophatter, it ranks relatively lower in web traffic. Complaints about Proxibid often revolve around the customer service of the platform and the reliability of an auction house. This is why some users suggest that you start slowly with Proxibid until you know which auction houses are trustworthy.
Despite eBay’s strong position in the online marketplace, online auction sites prove that there is still a place for âthe real dealâ. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning costs and reliability, and harnessing what attracts buyers and keeps them.