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A seller contacts me and wants me to take their property, put it online and get it sold. I’m a contemporary auctioneer — selling property of all kinds in an online auction. You might remember eBay stores where physical locations were secured for people to visit, bring in their items, to be put up in an online “auction” of sorts?

Is there any difference between an eBay store and most auctioneers? Outside of you saying that eBay is not necessarily an auction — the only difference we see is the auctioneer came first, followed by online auctions, wherein the eBay store world, the online goliath eBay came first, then the eBay stores.

Many hold that eBay stores largely didn’t survive because people can simply put their own property on eBay and so there was no need for this service. Can just anyone put property up on auctioneer-related platforms? At the moment, there are even auctioneers who have difficulty uploading property to these platforms — let alone any member of the public.

What’s the future hold? Are these auctioneer-related platforms going to get easier to use? If they do, some owners of property may decide it’s just as easy for them to work directly with the platform, rather than hire an auctioneer to help them. However, again … they would have to become much more intuitive to use than they are today.

Of course, some projects sellers face are overwhelming to the extent they would likely hire someone to assist them. Too, some sellers lack the knowledge and/or expertise to properly identify, photograph, upload, market, monitor, and closeout an auction. As such, there might always be a place for auctioneers to help with these circumstances.

And with auctioneer-related online platforms being around since 2001 or so and still fairly difficult to use here in 2021, maybe thinking they will ever be easy enough for the general public to use is far-fetched? Or, will these platforms only allow access for auctioneers and not the general public? I think we all know the answer to that question.

We’ve even asked why auctioneers don’t put items (even real property) on eBay given there are north of 150 Million users looking at that site, compared to … a site you use with only 1-2 Million users? Isn’t it pretty much all about eyeballs? Where are your resellers putting all those collectibles they are buying from you?

Actually, it’s not all about views (hits,) as price (value) is determined by supply and demand. Which demands more: An Erickson ashtray in a backyard estate auction with 200 bidders where there is only one, or an Erickson ashtray on eBay with 30 others listed (noting nowhere near 150 Million are looking for one?) We could also ask which sells quicker?

Other factors include how many auction attendees in that backyard have their phones out looking at eBay so they don’t pay too much, as well as how many want to take it home today versus wait for it to (maybe) arrive in the mail several days later. For example, we’ve sold such ashtrays at live auctions for more than they sell for on eBay as well as less than … maybe the difference between resellers and collectors?

There are basically two types of auction platforms — ones that constitute a marketplace, and ones that do not. For those without a marketplace, it is essential the auctioneer market otherwise to drive bidders to the site. Even with a marketplace, supplemental marketing can be beneficial. What must the typical auctioneer be? Good at securing sellers and talented at marketing.

We previously wrote about choosing the right platform here: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/russ-hilk-and-which-platform/. Before any auctioneer chooses a platform (or creates his or her own) there are extremely important considerations. Secondly, anything any platform tells you — even in a contract or otherwise in writing — may be something they choose to ignore or breach.

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, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.