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I believe it’s fair to say that eBay originated the online auction concept. AuctionWeb (soon after to be www.ebay.com) was opened for business September 5, 1995 and the first item sold via an online auction was a broken laser pointer for $14.83.

By 2007, upwards of $80,000 in goods and services sold on www.ebay.com every minute of every day. Today at various times just as much or more sells through a “Buy-it-now” format as does the competitive auction format.

More recently, many auctioneers have added online bidding to their live auctions, and others have chosen to offer exclusive online-only events, using third-party companies to either direct users to those external sites, or embed third-party solutions on their “auctioneer” websites.

eBay now has 100’s of millions of users (potential buyers) worldwide; almost no auctioneer uses eBay for his or her online-only auction software; a few companies today tie their listings to eBay and LiveAuctioneers started out in 2002 as an eBay-based platform.

Nevertheless, why do nearly all auctioneers not use eBay for their online-only auctions?

eBay is viewed as buyer-friendly in regard to disputes, and there is no way to direct potential buyers to a particular seller’s items (that auctioneer’s seller’s items.) As well, buyer premiums don’t fit well in eBay’s system, and shipping costs are strictly monitored. eBay also prohibits and/or restricts the sale of some items (firearms, real estate, slot machines, etc.)

By using customized software for auctioneers, auctioneers offer online-only events without having to use eBay, with embedded options, and more equitable and customizable terms for sellers and buyers.

At least, that’s the way it’s been up until now.

Take a look at this box below. This is a new (Beta) release from eBay called, “eBay To Go.” eBay To Go allows embedding of a certain seller’s items or certain search query results — one item, multiple items and even an eBay store’s items.

Here’s a sample search query result for “Bose Headphones.”


As can be seen here, any particular picture can be enlarged by mousing over it, and that particular item’s details can be viewed easily by clicking on any picture. Users can search for other items, and access a number of other choices (go ahead, try it out …)

In addition, there are different format options such as a text list, summary, single picture or the picture gallery above. Too, given this is in beta form, the final solution is likely to be even more enhanced.

eBay’s fees appear higher than those fees of auctioneer online-only software providers (as low as 9% to as high as 13%, with other options and fees.) But, the exposure is to a much larger audience.

If an auctioneer can list items on eBay and direct potential buyers to just those items, on the auctioneer’s website, and expose those items to possibly over 500 million potential bidders worldwide, why wouldn’t an auctioneer do that versus hosting their own online-only auction?

It would appear the folks at eBay wondered the same thing.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.