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Is there online auction software that’s too difficult to use? Apparently there is, and the measure we’ve suggested is, “If directions, a step by step handout or how-to videos” are needed, the software is clearly too difficult to use.

It’s 2020. Software whether local or online should be (and can be) intuitive. Big buttons, clear visible text, common terminology, easy-to-navigate and sensical steps to get from A to B to start with …

Auctioneers are reporting that some software requires them several hours of phone or other support helping users sign-in, put their credit card information in, bid either a highest-bid-to-be-executed or a fixed amount, etc. Again, it’s 2020 and almost no users should have any of these questions.

Further, just the other day someone said that she was told to always ensure bids/bidders are the same by logging into the “back end?” Really? Software can do all these wonderful things, but not check to ensure all this data matches? Software can’t alert the auctioneer when it doesn’t match? Or better yet, fix the problem?

And … we now even have online classes, webinars, podcasts, videos and other training on how to use software (and related issues.) Is it that difficult to use? Why is it that difficult to use? I don’t remember the last “class” I saw advertised helping people put items on eBay but it’s been a while.

Of course, as we’ve argued, the easier the software is for auctioneers, the easier it becomes for buyers and sellers to dis-intermediate the sale process — and possibly eliminate the auctioneer (agent) role? Either way, it should be elementary for the bidder to use.

What should online auction software look like? For one, when creating an auction for online bidding … let’s see: take several high-quality pictures (and/or video) of the lot, describe the lot in detail (size, shape, color, maker, serial, model, condition, weight, etc.) and hit upload.

It then should be as easy as setting the minimum opening bid, reserve, increments, buy-it-now price, start time, end time, shipping, any warranties and I’m pretty much off to the races. — or I should be? Of course, there are other issues but those should be easy to manage as well.

Live auctions don’t appear to me to be non-intuitive although they have been around 2,000 years or more. Occasionally, we have a bidder say, “I’ve never been to an auction before … what do I do?” I tell them to visit the registration area to begin the process and seemingly they are bidding within a minute or two.

Finally, classes, webinars, podcasts and the like are wonderful and suitable for advanced topics and features. All auction software should have advanced features in addition to basic functional usability which in 2020 should be easy enough to use without all this (and other) aforementioned training.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.