Online auctions have become an increasingly accessible way of shopping via the internet. They offer a huge variety of products which are available at consumers’ fingertips, and in the comfort of their own homes. Sellers can sell unwanted items that might otherwise be thrown away.
This type of consumer buying continues to evolve, and is extremely popular and successful in today’s competitive marketplace.
There are two main attractions to online auctions. Firstly, the consumer is often able to secure an item at a lower price than it would be made available for in high street chains. Secondly, online auction sites offer an exciting and stimulating way of shopping. ‘Bidders’ enjoy the competition for products; a ‘win’ can be exhilarating, as well as being conveniently carried out without having to drive to an external location. In today’s society, competitive online shopping is becoming ever popular.
The most successful internet auctions are those that are easily accessible, are open to as many bidders as possible, and are straightforward to follow. An online auction is often active for a number of hours, during which bidders ‘bid’ for the product they want. They are usually allowed to withdraw from the proceedings at any time if they desire. Bidders who are more experienced can place bids at several sites at once, and will use software that tracks their status at each online auction.
There are basically two main types of auction process: Forward and Reverse.
In forward auctions, bidders who offer the highest bid win the item. The seller will put up the items available to buy and bidders will begin competing for these, thus driving the price up. Sellers might fix a reserve price so that sales do not fall below this. These types of online auctions are well known for selling and buying collectibles but also may sell business to business.
Auction sites have their own rules, such as whether sellers need a certain business accreditation to take part and whether to set a registration fee before use. Another consideration will be how payment is made; either between the parties involved or through the site itself. Seller profiles are established and rewarded by the more they sell and the more reliable they prove themselves in terms of delivery and quality.
Reverse auctions (Dutch Auctions)
In this type of auction, bidders who offer the lowest bid wins the item (the ‘item’ in reverse auctions is usually a contract for business). The event itself will last for a matter of just a few hours. Reverse auctions are important for supply chains (particularly electronic) and are viewed as a money saving exercise. These reverse auctions are becoming an increasingly popular way to do business through the internet.
There are numerous auction sites currently operating online.
Many of these sites are not geared towards a particular specialised area; they can be visited and used to buy and sell almost any general item imaginable. Products are stored within categories, alphabetically, or consumers have the option of using the search tool to locate an exact match. Once the product is found, information, as well as numbers in stock, will be displayed.
Some auction sites will conduct the bidding on a buyer’s behalf if instructed to. They may also include a ‘Buy Now’ feature that allows the buyer to opt out of the auction and purchase the product immediately at the displayed price.
Dedicated sites will offer a more specialised service for direct-niche items, for example if buyers are looking for products such as artwork, guns, coins, jewellery or vintage clothing etc, these can be easily located through the internet’s search engines. Again, consumers are able to search through categories or enter keywords to find a niche product quickly, which they are then able to bid on. Many direct-niche sites also offer the option to purchase items without bidding.
Also known as ‘bidding fee’ auctions, these sites offer an exciting way of buying and selling online, providing the consumer with a retail incentive as well as entertainment value. Penny auctions enable consumers to often get products that are very popular at low prices.
Bidders pay a non-refundable fee and receive a pack of bids before the auction begins, at a set price (a fixed step to ensure fairness). They then place their individual bids and hope to be the player with the last wager before time runs out. With each bid placed on an auction, the timer increases. When the clock stops, the last person to place their bid wins the product and pays the final price for it, which is often very low.
Many consumers enjoy penny auctions because of the competition involved in the bidding process, as well as the sealed end product, approved by a company.
Products that can be bid on in these auctions range from laptops, phones and home appliances to gift vouchers and more. Savings of 70%, and sometimes more, can be made on items.
The success of the penny auction lies within its clear competitive shopping element, and the time it takes to place a bid. Bidders may send short numbers by text message to place their bid (effectively reducing the time it takes) or they may visit the penny auction site and place their bid this way. Many of the sites offer automatic bidding systems to save further time.
By visiting different sites and watching auctions in action, as well as reading reviews on specific sites, consumers will gain a good understanding of which penny auctions are the best to take part in.
These offer bidders the chance of paying for an individual bid before the auction commences, then to add additional bids if they wish, to increase their chance of winning the product. A display will let bidders know their progress within the auction and further bids can be entered. With each bid placed, the value of the product increases as well as the countdown.