More estate sale companies and auctioneers are meeting customers where they already are: online. Online auctions are smart ways to move more product and can be easier and more convenient than setting up an in-person estate sale or live auction.
Check out these ten tips for selling in online auctions.
Follow the law.
While most states don’t regulate online auctions, some states do. It’s a good idea to at least be familiar with your state’s auction laws, especially as more become regulated. Here’s a guide to auction laws by state to help you get started.
When advertising your sale or item, whether in the title, photo, description, or starting price, tell the truth! If customers get what they expect, they’re more likely to shop from you again. You don’t want to get the reputation for being untrustworthy. Word gets around — especially online.
Preferably good estate sale photos. We know. It takes time to upload photos — time you often don’t have. But it’s the truth: photos go a long way in advertising your item. Part of the fun of shopping is browsing, and online this means scrolling through photos. Take a little time beforehand to take good shots. These days, you can take good photos on your smartphone, as well as find free photo editing software online. Whether you’re selling one item or in lots, good photography goes a long way in online auctions.
Specify your minimum bid.
While it’s true the market determines the price in an online auction, your starting bid sets the tone. You may need to go over the minimum price with your estate sale consignor beforehand, depending on your contract. Since so much of an auction is out of your control, the one thing you can control is the opening bid. So make sure it’s a price you’ve researched and feel comfortable with — here’s a great online guide to estate sale appraisal and pricing.
Contact the winner ASAP.
Don’t delay. Just like deals involving money, buying a house, signing a job offer, auction winnings have a tendency to fall through before cash is exchanged. Contact the winner right away via email to cut down on second-guessing — or disappearing — during the lag.
Provide clear delivery details.
Shipping and delivery details are usually up to your, the auctioneer. How do you plan to transport the item to your customer, especially bigger items, like estate sale furniture?
Whatever you decide, be clear. Some people aren’t willing to pay shipping costs or may not be willing to pick up the item themselves. Be up front about your stipulations – and then of course, follow through with them.
Give tracking information.
If you are able to provide their package’s tracking information, do it. It will help manage your customer’s expectations, plus give them something to check without having to contact you.
Ship or deliver on time!
This is really the key to good customer service when it comes to online auctions. Be diligent about shipping on time — and taking necessary measures to make sure the item arrives intact. Happy customers mean repeat business and more customers via word of mouth.
Have a clear return policy.
Sometimes customers are unhappy with their item. You should have this figured out with the consignor what your deadline will be for returned items. State your policy clearly so customers know what to expect – and stick with them. If they are outside of your area, ask that they provide photos and descriptions detailing the damage. Explain items returned after the deadline cannot be refunded. And of course, since this is an estate sale, items won’t be able to be replaced.
Keep organized records.
Document, document, document. This helps you in a dispute with a customer or client. Plus clear records will come in handy during tax time, or in the event you get audited.
What online auction selling tips do you have to share, either as a customer or a seller? Let us know in the comments below!