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I freely admit that when auction platforms started to appear, I (and many others) decried their plans … to possibly allow non-auctioneers to use their platform to sell their own property by using “auctioneer’s data.”

Here in 2023, about 22 years since these platforms began to appear, auctioneers are still in business selling others’ property at auction. Yet, do these platforms compete with auctioneers? Some do, in that they cater directly to sellers and as a result, there is auctioneer disintermediation.

We’ve competed with these platforms for the same business — and that’s exactly what these platforms are — competition. It occurs to us that we all have competition and if our offering is not better than doing it yourself, then maybe we need to up our own game.

The Internet has caused widespread disintermediation — in health care, legal services, insurance, real estate, travel, marketing, etc. Yet, these third-party industries still exist and secure clients when their offering is better and/or clients are unable or not comfortable “doing it themselves.”

We wrote about online auction platforms being easy (or not) to use: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2021/08/02/can-an-online-auction-platform-be-too-easy-to-use/. Most remain a bit complex, which probably benefits auctioneers utilizing the platforms for sellers.

For auctioneers to remain viable, they must [continue to] do an outstanding job identifying, photographing, marketing, and conducting auctions. Unfortunately, some auctioneers are not good at these things, including advertising the event: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/10/05/youre-not-marketing-your-auction/.

Relatedly, we noted that every auctioneer in the United States, and elsewhere else, having their own independent platform is preposterous: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2022/11/07/50000-different-websites-really/. A few auctioneers have sufficient business and/or related funds and staff to deservedly have their own platforms, and that’s all fine.

Otherwise, for the vast majority of auctioneers, the cost of having their own platform outweighs the benefits, particularly because many lack the ability to properly market their auctions; marketplace platforms essentially do the marketing for auctioneers. Choosing the right platform is paramount: https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2020/07/24/russ-hilk-and-which-platform/.

In summary, it’s not the platform, not the seller, nor the property which is driving sellers to use an online platform themselves to sell their own property. Rather, it’s your offering as an auctioneer which doesn’t provide the sufficient value necessary to convince them to hire you to do it for them.

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, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, 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 has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.