Welcome to the World of Online Auctions: A Beginner’s Guide
Auctions have been a part of human trade and commerce for centuries, even dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. But they certainly didn’t have the internet back then, did they? The technological innovations of today have ushered in a new era of auctions – the online auction. But how are online auctions different from in-person auctions and how exactly do you go about making a bid on the wide world of unique items you can find here at US Auction Brokers? Well, let’s dive in and find out!
A Brief History of Auctions
A process of the selling of goods to the highest bidder, auctions have roots tracing back to 500 B.C. in ancient Greece. While these early auctions, and those of the Roman Empire, were a way to sell women for marriage, sell off the spoils of war, or liquidate debt, they have come a very long way since.
The first mention of “auction” as a popular term dates to 1595. During the 17th and 18th centuries, a live auction became a common method for selling goods and artwork in Europe. Live auction schools appeared in the US in the early 1900s, training people as auctioneers, as economic conditions created the large need for many people to liquidate assets during the Great Depression. Today, auctions have seamlessly transitioned into the digital realm, with online auction marketplace sites accessible to a global audience around the world.
What is an Auction, Anyway?
By definition, an auction is a public sale where items are sold to the highest bidder. This dynamic process starts with a seller listing items, typically through an auction house. Sellers can be individuals or businesses, and these items can be anything from art, furniture, and fine jewelry to any kind of tool, equipment, livestock, real estate and cars.
Traditionally, participants physically gather as an auctioneer oversees the process, presenting each item and calling for bids. Participants then bid by announcing their willingness to pay a specific amount for the item. The item goes to the highest bidder, traditionally acknowledged with the striking of a gavel, quite ceremoniously.
In contrast, online auctions leverage today’s digital platforms for users to bid from the comfort of their own homes. On computers, an app, or on their mobile devices, customers can browse online auction catalogs, see current bid prices, and place their bids for nearly any item imaginable. A digital system manages the entire process, facilitating bidding and ensuring fairness.
Are Auction Prices More Affordable? Why Should I Shop an Auction?
This is a frequently asked question of any auction house — and the answer is “it depends.” For the most part, auctions can be a great way to find myriad items at a lower price than you’d pay in a retail store. You can also find unique items that you might not find at a mass manufacturer, giving you access to unexpected finds at great prices.
However, for exceedingly rare or highly sought-after items (you know, the auctions you see in the movies or big news headlines), the opposite can be true. Ultimately, it depends on the popularity of the item, the other bidders, and the economic environment.
Auctions also offer a sustainable way to shop for all sorts of goods. Reduce, reuse, recycle! Buying items secondhand is a wonderful way to fulfill your needs while protecting the environment and saving some previously loved gems from ending up in a landfill.
Plus, auctions are simply exciting! Hunting down treasures, finding something you’ve always dreamed of, and a little competition add a lot of fun to the shopping experience. And winning is even better. Whether you’re looking for a new rug, designer shoes, vintage jewelry, or any number of other goods, auctions have a lot of upsides for both buyers and sellers.
Need to Know: Auction Terminology
Before you dive into bidding for items in an online auction, it’s helpful to have a good grasp of auction terminology so you know what you’re doing.
- Bid: The amount of money a participant is willing to pay for an item. If someone bids against you, and you want to keep bidding, you can place additional bids using the same process, depending on the type of auction you’re in.
- Hammer Price: The final bid amount when the auctioneer closes bidding on an item.
- Lot: A group of items sold together as a single unit.
- Buyer’s Premium: Many auction companies add an additional fee, expressed as a percentage, to the final hammer price to cover auction house expenses. This helps bring in high-quality merchandise with little or no reserves.
- Auto Bid: In an online auction, an auto bid is a convenient feature that allows you to set the maximum amount you’re willing to pay. The auction system will then automatically place incremental bids, up to that amount, on your behalf.
- Bid Increment: The set minimum difference between the current bid and the next acceptable bid. At any time while the auction is open, you may bid using the exact increment or anything higher. For example, if the current bid is $50, with a set increment of $25, you could bid $75 or higher.
- Reserve: As common auction practice, a reserve price can be set which is the minimum amount a seller is willing to accept for the item. If bidding does not reach this amount, the seller is not obligated to sell the asset.
- "As Is": Indicates that the item is sold without guarantees or warranties. It is best practice to always ensure you read the terms and conditions, FAQs, and are fully informed of what is known about an item’s quality and condition before purchase.
How to Participate in Online Auctions
While every digital auction platform has its processes and procedures, here at US Auction Brokers, there are just a few simple steps to follow to join the auction action:
1) Register: You can bid in an online auction by registering for a US Auction Brokers account, providing valid contact information including name, address, email, and telephone. Anyone may create an account and registration is free. By registering, you agree to the terms and conditions of our auctions. Once registered, you will receive a confirmation email, and then gain access to view all current item bids and place bids of your own.
2) Pay for and claim your item: Within 5 minutes of our online auctions closing, winning bidders can log in to their accounts and complete payment for any winning items. You’ll also receive an email letting you know you’ve won. Payments are required within 2 days of the close of the auction.
3) Stay alert: Once you’ve placed a bid, you’ll want to closely monitor the items you’re bidding on, in case you want to up your bid, and especially as the auction nears its close, to find out whether you’ve won. Generally, US Auction Brokers auctions are open for 2-4 days, but there are 1-day and week-long auctions as well. Each item page displays the start and end times for its auction.
4) Bid: When you’re ready, place a starting bid or set an auto bid to get in the action. Bidding is a legal contract, and cannot be removed or canceled, so make sure to do your research first.
5) Add items to your watch list: Once you locate something you like on our site, you can add it to your watch list. Adding items to your watch list (using the button on each item’s product page) keeps all your favorites in one place. Explore both current and upcoming auctions
6) Shop: Whether you’re looking for something specific or just browsing, you can explore US Auction Brokers product categories, including art, coins, collectibles, designer fashion, jewelry, gemstones, rugs, silver, vintage goods, and more. Each product category may also have subcategories to help you refine your search. For instance, within the “jewelry” category, you’ll find subcategories such as bracelets, diamond rings, heart jewelry, pearls, and watches.
Ready to Shop Online Auctions
Over the years, US Auction Brokers has helped connect countless people with diverse interests with an extensive range of merchandise at great prices. Established in 2006 by owners with more than 30 years of industry experience, US Auction Brokers has sought to revolutionize the way agencies, suppliers, wholesalers, and customers engage in buying and selling. We are a premier, full-service, private auction company acquiring contracts with individuals, businesses, and official agencies to obtain merchandise from banking and loan defaults, bankruptcies, estate liquidation, and overstock.
We take pride in being a trusted resource connecting sellers and buyers in seamless transactions and love curating an inventory that leaves no desire unfulfilled.