Are you looking to sell a valuable antique, piece of art, or jewelry? An online auction could be a great way to get rid of your unwanted belongings while also earning money from the sales.
Popular auction items can lead to intense bidding wars between potential buyers. If you can get a competition going for your item, you can raise more money for your personal wellbeing and any other financial goals you may have. However, not every auction will get interested buyers.
At Fruitcocktail Collectables, customers regularly ask us whether it makes sense to choose an auction or a different sales method, like an estate sale or consignment. In this article, we put together a guide to how online auctions work so you can decide if it’s the best option for you.
What Is an Online Auction?
Online auctions allow people to sell, bid on, and buy goods online. Compared to traditional auctions, online auctions often get a larger bidding base which may include potential buyers from across the country or even around the world.
People can sell many different kinds of items this way, including:
- Art from just about any era or artistic movement
- Fine jewelry and costume jewelry
- Home decor such as silver and glass
When an item such as a piece of art, jewelry, or antique goes on sale online, people can begin bidding. As with traditional auctions, the person with the highest bid will get to be the buyer, so the item will sell for the highest price any bidder will pay. Sometimes bidders will compete for a popular item and raise the price far higher than what they would pay in a different setting, as you may have seen in movies.
Some online auction sites are designed for a general bidding audience, while others tend to attract niche buyers for specific goods. The most widely known online auction-style sales site is eBay, but there are plenty of other sites that work differently, like Auction Ninja. The auction itself can be fast or slow depending on the seller’s strategy.
Many people today choose to sell goods through online auctions. They are becoming an increasingly popular and convenient way to sell items to a large audience, including potential buyers who may not live near the seller.
The Online Auction Process
The pre-auction process begins with photographing and cataloging items. In most cases, the auction host will need to verify the items and determine that they are worth selling.
Current trends and the item’s history, materials, and condition can all influence whether or not an item is popular enough to sell. In many cases, the seller may need to get a professional appraisal done to confirm the item’s value and history.
After the auction host finishes gathering together information about the items and posts it online, the auction can begin. People will bid through a virtual platform until the price has reached a high point that no buyer wishes to pass.
Many online auctions require potential buyers to register. Some sites have a live auction session where the bidders stream online from their homes, while others do not have a live component so that buyers can more comfortably bid whenever their schedule allows. Both types of online auctions can help people with a wide variety of goods to sell.
For auctions with a live-streamed component, there are usually two types of bids a potential buyer can make: a pre-bid, which is a set amount bid before the date of the live auction, and a regular bid during the live auction session. People who make pre-bids can usually also make regular bids.
After the auction ends, the item will go to the highest bidder, who will then pay the price they offered. Some of the proceeds will usually go to the auction company as well as to the seller.
What to Ask Before Hiring an Online Auction Company
There may be multiple online auction companies in your area. Before you decide who to hire, you may want to ask a few questions to find out which auction company is the best choice for you:
- Can you help with the item I want to sell? Some auction companies specialize in a particular type of item, such as art. If a company you contact does not sell items like yours, they may still be able to recommend another company that does.
- What kind of experience do you have? The more experience the auction company has with items like what you are trying to sell, the more likely they can help you get the highest possible price for your items. They should also have experience with the online selling process – you do not want to lose out on a sale because of a technical error.
- Do you have an in-house appraiser? You may need to have your item appraised before you can sell it in an online auction. Some online auction companies may have in-house appraisers who can help verify the value and history of your item. Your appraiser should ideally be certified by International Society of Appraisers (ISA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA), or another well-known appraisal association.
- What is your fee structure? Before signing an agreement, make sure everyone is clear on the fees and when you will be expected to pay. Some auctioneers charge a percentage of the auction’s gross sale, while others may have a slightly different fee structure.
Online Auctions at Fruitcocktail Collectables
At Fruitcocktail, we can help you host an online auction and get the best possible price for your items. You can begin the online auction process by either having us catalog items in your home or bringing them to our office warehouse in the SODO neighborhood of Seattle.
The items we sell online include a wide variety of vintage, historical, and artistic goods, such as:
- Unique collections
- Vintage clothing
- Designer goods
- Native American collectibles
- Mid century furniture
- Other items
We will take care of reaching out to potential buyers and hosting the auction. We typically host auctions through Auction Ninja, a site that allows potential buyers to bid in real time.
Our online auctions typically go on for 20 days. To learn more about our auction process, ask about our fee structure, or request an appraisal, reach out to our team.