Most people have attended some kind of in-person auction in their lives, whether it’s live or silent. An online auction is a common way to raise money, whether for farmers who want to get money for their unused equipment or for non-profits looking to increase their fundraising capacities. No matter who wants to hold an auction and for what purpose, there are a few industry best practices for organizing them online that should always be followed.
1. Choose the Right Software For Your Online Auction
Every option online auction software is a little different, so make sure to choose one that is not just affordable, but also easy to use for both auctioneers and attendees. Auction holders who want to find a comprehensive software solution can learn more about what to look for over at Maxanet.com.
2. Take Stock of Items and/or Solicit Goods
There are many ways to collect items to sell at an auction. Some organizations use auctions as a means of liquidating assets such as equipment, furniture, electronics, and fleet vehicles. Others, such as non-profits, solicit the donation of goods to the auction so they can put 100% of the money it generates towards their missions.
3. Take Multiple Photos
It’s much easier to get a fair price for goods if people can see what they are buying. Consider hiring a professional photographer, and if that’s not in the budget, the auction organizer should at least take multiple, high-quality photos.
4. Present the Goods in an Attractive Light
Don’t stop at taking a few photos. It’s equally important to write up accurate but enticing descriptions. Make sure to include all the basic information about the item, including things like its size, condition, and relevant history. It’s more important for the item descriptions to be accurate than entertaining.
5. Set Proper Starting Bids
The goal when holding an auction is to solicit multiple bids for each item and to ultimately get between 80% and 100% of its market value. However, the starting bids should be set much lower, at around 35% of market value. Round up or down to keep things simple.
6. Promote Both Before and During the Online Auction
People don’t typically visit new online auction sites unless they have a reason to. Make sure to market the auction properly beforehand by promoting it on the company’s website, newsletter, and social media pages, and try to attract as much attention to it as possible by reaching out to relevant organizations or newspapers with press releases. Continue these efforts as the auction gets started to maximize reach.
7. Monitor the Online Auction
As the auction gets underway, monitor what’s happening and post interesting developments on the organization’s social media pages or send them to interested parties via email. A fundraiser thermometer can monitor your fundraising auction progress as well. Keeping people updated will encourage attendees to continue bidding right up to the very end, driving up prices.
8. Know How the Items Will Be Shipped
Auction holders should make arrangements for shipping in advance with an eye to the fact that attendees can usually place bids from anywhere in the country. It’s fine to request that bidders pay for shipping, but the auction holder will still need to make arrangements to get the items where they need to go. Most online auctions limit bids to those from participants within the United States to cut back on delivery costs and reduce potential complications.
The Bottom Line
Holding an online auction is a great way to liquidate assets, raise money for a non-profit, or even start a new business that focuses on a specific industry. Just make sure to follow the best practices described above to maximize bids and make the entire experience more enjoyable for participants.