These days more estate sale companies are reaping the benefits of online auctions. Like everything else in the industry that has gone digital, including advertising on the web or accepting payment by credit card, buyers are doing their shopping online. So if your estate sale company doesn’t keep up with the times, but the company down the street does, guess who will get more business?
Big companies aren’t the only ones seeing the benefits of online auctions. Smaller companies see them, too. When Jason Hill, owner of Movin’ On Estate Auctions, was presented with the opportunity to move his sales to an online auction platform, he jumped on it.
“I knew that people were shopping online more than anything, and I just saw an opportunity to grab hold of another audience — and it’s working out for me big time,” said Hill who says he’s seen an increase in revenue.
However, traditionalists afraid of estate sales becoming obsolete have nothing to worry about.
“You’re never going to get rid of regular estate sales. There are people that just love to go to them,” said Hill.
Estate sales have a well defined niche market, people who love to physically browse and shop – and that’s not going away. If anything, online auctions expand the market. Hill also said some estate sale companies are not internet savvy, and they don’t want to be. He doesn’t see these traditionalists moving to online auctions ever.
Adam Gordon, Chief Operating Officer of online auction company MaxSold contends estate sales and online auctions don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
“We have a number of estate sales companies that refer sales to MaxSold when they have constraints or not able to handle too many sales for a referral fee,” said Gordon.
Here are more reasons why online auctions might be a smart move.
1. Allows more time for buying
A traditional estate sale or auction generally takes place over a few days. After that, everything must be sold because the house could be on the market or any other number of reasons.
Generally online auctions are held longer than a few days. Online estate sale company Everything But The House (EBTH) holds their auctions for as a long as a week.
“We’ve found that this allows the bidder to review an item before making a purchase, share it with friends and family online, and remain engaged until they either win the item or decide it’s beyond their price range,” said EBTH co-founder Brian Graves.
Most online auction software allows you to set the bidding times, so you stay in complete control.
2. Increases demand for items
As any auctioneer will tell you, one benefit of auctions in general is that they’re timed (see above). Regardless of how long the auction lasts, for some reason, when people feel like there’s only a limited amount of time to buy, they’re more likely to take action. This is a well-known marketing tactic that appeals to people’s sense of “urgency” and many e-commerce sites use a timer simply for this reason. And guess what? It works.
Use to your advantage the illusion of time running out to induce more bids from buyers who don’t want to miss out! After all, more bids means the opportunity for more revenue.
3. Removes barriers of distance
How many times do people miss out on auctions solely because they don’t want to drive the distance? This is why sites like ebay have taken off. Take advantage of the internet and use online auctions to attract more buyers, whether they live in your town or in another state!*
“Since shoppers are not restricted by geography, they can discover and bid on a wider selection of items from all over the country,” said Graves of EBTH.
*Interstate commerce restrictions may apply. See these auction laws in your state.
4. More convenient for buyers
Sure, it removes the barriers of time and distance, as stated above, but it goes beyond that by making it actually pretty convenient to place bids and buy online. Online auctions give buyers plenty of options, whether they want to browse via their mobile device, from their office, or in the comfort of their own home.
“You never have to wait in line only to find out that everything you wanted has been sold (regardless if you would have offered more money,” said Gordon of MaxSold.
5. Gives all items equal spotlight
Let’s face it. Digging through someone’s estate can take up a lot of time, and lots of stones get left unturned. With an online auction, buyers have a better chance of finding those unusual items since they won’t be buried somewhere with other smalls or cast-offs.
Plus with the ability to feature estate sale photos and descriptions, online auctions put the information right there at their fingertips, so you won’t have to be answering emails about history or provenance.
6. Levels the playing field for buyers
We all know those problem estate sale or auction shoppers. Aggressive buyers and dealers especially can be intimidating to reserved or newer buyers. This can cause you to lose out on a lot of potential revenue!
“Live auctions can be intimidating for a new or first-time bidder, but a digital platform takes the pressure off,” said Graves of EBTH.
With an online auction, everyone gets a fair chance to place their bids without putting themselves out there to get bullied by more dominating or experienced buyers.
7. Makes estate sale-ing accessible to all, not just the die-hards
If you’ve been in the estate sale business for awhile, you may have forgotten how scary or strange it felt the first time you attended a sale. People who aren’t experienced antiques shoppers or dealers often feel out of place at an estate sale. In fact, they might not go at all because they feel like it’s only for professionals. They might not know have experience in estate sale pricing and appraisal. That’s all changing, thanks to the internet.
“Estate sale shopping isn’t just for savvy vintage shoppers or experienced collectors anymore: more consumers are seeking unique ways to acquire eclectic furnishings and decor, driven by the thrill of finding an Edward Wormley for Dunbar console or a rare Andy Warhol silkscreen from the comfort of home,” said Graves.
8. Preserves the property
Estate sales and live auctions can present two problems: first is the matter of finding a place to hold the sale in the first place. Homes with HOA’s, for example, often won’t allow public sales in the neighborhood.
If you do hold the sale on the property, you run the risk of foot-damage or wear and tear to the property, which may already be ready to be put on the market or under contract.
Holding an online auction ensures your property remains private – one less thing you or your clients need to worry about.
9. Saves time
Transporting items and/or setting up the sale can take time on the estate sale professional’s part. When you’re adding up the numbers at the end of the day, these hours really start to count! And especially with online auctions, “a picture is worth 1000 words,” estate sale liquidator Hill said
With auction cataloguing software options like Wavebid, for example, you can easily catalogue and photograph items and load them into a various number of different online auction platforms. There is also the local pickup model which avoids the need for companies to ship items completely by requiring all purchases be picked up locally.
10. Moves more items
Movin’ On Estate Auctions company owner Jason Hill reports he’s seen a big lift in sales since moving to an online auction platform. “I was just tired of the mundane, tired of 14 tables of stuff left, you know? We were getting traffic, that was not an issue. But there’s always tons of stuff left at the end of the day when you do a regular estate sale.”
Especially those hard-to-sell items. Now, he hardly has any items left over. His final verdict? “Online auctions are the way to go,” Hill says. “If you build it, they will come.
11. More accurate pricing
The beauty of auctions is they allow the market to determine the price, which can often mean more accurate pricing.
“Online auction firms with a sizable bidding audience allow consumers to determine the final price,” said Graves of EBTH. “Traditional estate sale processes require the estate sale firm to determine the price based on their knowledge and expertise, which is not an exact science, despite anyone’s best efforts. In a competitive bidding environment, those prices are often exceeded due to unforeseeable factors such as purchasing the item for nostalgic, convenience or competitive reasons.”
Estate liquidator Hill agrees and says the online auction format takes a lot of the pressure on him to come up with the right price, as he acknowledges he often gets buyers with more expertise than he has.
12. Reduce opportunities for theft
With no physical product for buyers to browse, there’s no chance for theft — not counting the unlikely event that the package is stolen en route or once it’s delivered, which is out of your control, and should be accounted for in your estate sake contract!
Online auctions also eliminate any potential security risks, cash theft and other dangers and liabilities posed by holding a physical sale.
13. Never turn down another estate sale
How many times have you had to turn down a client because they didn’t have enough items to sell? With online auctions, you don’t need a set minimum number of items or revenue. You can sell any number of items via online auction, making it convenient for you and your clients.
Now EstateSales.org offers online auctions in the first platform designed especially for the estate sale industry. Try it with an entire sale or just by the item – you’ve got nothing to lose!
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. What benefits have you seen from selling via online auction? Let us know in the comments!