To bid - or not to bid, that is the question.
Thankyou for taking the time to look at this brief article. As a real-life auctioneer and valuer, I can hopefully offer you a little insight into real life auction scenarios, which you may like to consider applying to your ebay bidding techniques. Either way, I hope you will find it interesting.
In a real life auction room you will find many bidders, some experienced, some not, some professional, others not so professional. You will also find, if you speak to the more experienced bidders, each will have their own particular techniques for bidding, and for securing that bargain at the best possible price.
Here are some examples of bidding techniques:
JUMP BIDDING This is where the bidder will try to frighten off competing bidders. For example, if an item is being auctioned and the bid is at 80.00 going up in increments of 10.00 at a time, then the jump bidder may attempt to frighten off competing bidders by offering a much higher bid, of say 150.00 - that can frighten off the other bidders and grind the auction to a halt. It can of course have the oppositte effect too and encourage other bidders to jump in quickly, almost with a sense of panic, assuming that the item must be worth far in excess of this amount.
HOLDING BACK In many cases an experienced bidder may well hold back until the very last minute to make his bid, even to the point of where the auctioneer is just about to bring the hammer down. The logic behind this technique is to wait until all other bids are exhausted and jump in at the last second. Again, this can work, the downside being that it may well create a last minute bidding frenzy, with the eventual winner actually paying more than they ever intended to.
THROW BIDDING This is where a more experienced bidder will try to throw the bidding sequence completely, putting the auctioneer off his stride and at the same time abruptly hindering the flow of bids. For example, if the auctioneer is going up in bids of 100, say One hundred, Two hundred, Three hundred etc, the throw bidder will suddenly shout in +and sixty two fifty+ - or some other odd amount. This will of course put the auctioneer off his flow, and can be very off-putting to other bidders. Of course the reaction of other bidders depends on their own individual skill and experience.
AFTER THE AUCTION VULTURES As the name would suggest, these are potential buyers that do not actually bid whilst the auction is in progress, preferring to wait until after the auction to make a low offer on any item that did not reach its reserve price - or indeed, perhaps did not receive any bids at all.
HOW CAN ANY OF THE ABOVE BE APPLIED TO INTERNET AUCTIONS - AND HOW CAN THEY WORK ?
JUMP BIDDING A similar way of jump bidding that can be applied to ebay, is where an item has a reserve price. We will use as an example a car that has a £1 start price, but when you go to place your bid, you see that there is a reserve price.
Well, to start with, the item is NOT going to be sold for less than the reserve price that the seller has set, so if you want to buy it you have to be prepared to pay AT LEAST what the reserve price is. On ebay, the only way to find out what the reserve price is, is to keep increasing your bid until the reserve price is reached. Once the reserve price is reached, you will be shown as the CURRENT winning bidder, you can of course be outbid right until the very last second.
OK, so going back to our example, say the car you are bidding for has a reserve price, and the bid you type into ebay puts you above the reserve, in other words it makes you the CURRENT winning bidder for the moment - are you going to end up paying too much?
Not necessarily. There are various points of view on this, but please think about these following facts very carefully. In my experience on ebay, when an item starts with a high starting price there is far less interest in it, the item gets far fewer watchers, and in turn there are far fewer bidders. So, if that car has just been listed, and you put it up to the reserve straight away - then the price on that item is immediately far higher than others in the same section that have not yet reached their reserve. It will certainly attract a lot less attention, and fewer watchers, just as it would if it had a high starting price. Whilst I am not saying that this will work on every occasion, it can work and it does happen. You can see this often if you study the higher value items on ebay, a particular item may have the same winning bidder thoughout the course of its seven day listing.
HOLDING BACK I think we have all seen it on ebay, where a bidder holds back to the very last minute to get their bid in - commonly referred to as sniping, they jump in at the very last second and snatch the item from the winning bidder. So, should you hold back to the last second yourself? Well, it is of course a matter of personal choice, but bearing in mind the above secion on jump bidding you can see there are alternatives to sitting up all night trying to snipe something at the last second - only to be disappointed as another sniper beats you. Again, it may well put off the snipers by getting the bidding up to a comparatively high price at the beginning of the auction, to put the professional snipers off the scent - and play them at their own game.
THROW BIDDING Whilst this particular live auction room technique cannot be applied directly to internet auctions, there is one element of it that can be applied, a fact that more experienced ebayers are familiar with.
I refer to the element of throw bidding where you finish off your bidding on an irregular or unusual amount. For example, say you are bidding on one of my rings, and you decide the maximum you would like to pay is £30.00 Well, there may well be another potential buyer with exactly that same amount in mind. If there are two high bids for the same amount, then ebay will make the first bid of this amount the winning bid. The answer to this one is quite simple. Never make your highest bid a round figure. Always add a few pence to the end of it. Whilst those of your reading this with some experience on ebay may already be familiar with this idea, there are stil many who are not. If you need convincing of this fact then take a look at the bids on any finished auction - you will see that majority of bids are liekly to be round figures.
My advice on any bid is to always add on the extra few pence, so instead of bidding £30.00, bid £31.54 - it may well make all the difference between winning and losing the auction - just for a few extra pence.
AFTER THE AUCTION VULTURES Whilst I can admire anybody who tries to get themselves a bargain, I and most other autioneers have a specific dislike of this method of operation. The idea of an auction is to join in the bidding. The vendor of the item for sale wants people to bid in an open and competitive atmosphere, that is usually why they have decided to sell their item by auction in the first place. After auction vultures are NOT joining in the spirit of the auction - and are certainly NOT acting in the spirit of ebay when they try the same thing on here. It is very common in real life auctions, especially property auctions, for more experienced dealers to wait until the end of the auction, and then approach the auctioneer with low offers for whatever is left, in the hope that a depserate or motivated vendor will be forced to accept.
I have noticed in recent months an increasing trend for some people to approach me after an ebay auction, on the rare occasions when an item has not reached its reserve, to try to buy the item cheaply, directly.
Well, for starters, making an apporach after the auction to buy directly is STRICTLY against ebay rules. Thankfully ebay do allow sellers to re-list items which have not reached their reserve free of charge, subject to some conditions. This is useful to sellers who are unsure of what interest they may receive in a high value item.
My personal opinion of post auction vultures is not a very good one. It totally goes against the spirit of the very essence of ebay being an auction site.
If you do miss out on an item that has ended with no bids the correct method of approach to the seller is to ask them if they will be re-listing the item. If they are you could ask them to message you with the item number. Another method which could help you bag that post-auction bargain AND keep within the ebay rules is to negotiate a price with the vendor post auction, agree a price with the vendor and then get the vendor to re-list the item with a buy it now price that you have agreed. You would then be able to buy the item instantly, and both you and the vendor would be acting within ebay rules, and more importantly you will both be protected under the ebay buyer and seller programme, and if paying by paypal, by their protection programme too.
Whilst I for one would not say that ebay is perfect - it is very good, and those who try to circumvent the rules are not just acting against the spirit of ebay, they are spoiling it for others.
I do hope you have found this brief guide useful, and it has given you food for thought. Auctions are a fascinating subject, and I will be writing more guides later this year. I have got this guide off a site outside of ebay, however I feel this will be very useful for people on ebay.