Why Use an Online Auction Service?
The top performers in our review are eBay, the Gold Award winner; eBid, the Silver Award winner; and Bonanza, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing an online auction service that meets your specific needs.
You can be an entrepreneur right from your own couch with the use of an online auction site. These companies create a marketplace where you can buy and sell a wide range of items, such as clothing, toys, jewelry and even homemade decor. You can upload items to the website, set your own prices and make a little extra money. As a seller, you don't have to worry about space to rent and distance to travel to find buyers for your products, and in turn, the buyer can often purchase products at cheaper rates.
With more and more people shopping online, the number of buyers and sellers using online auction sites is reaching the millions. Sites that have a high quantity of registered members offer a wider variety of items and potentially better deals. These sites receive more traffic, which substantially increases your likelihood of selling. For more information, read our articles on online auction sites.
What's the Difference Between a Store and a Listing?
Each item you place on the site is a listing. With many companies, a single listing consists of a description of the product and a specific number of photos.
With some companies, though, you can only list a certain number of items each month for free. When you purchase a store or a monthly subscription, you can upload numerous items, usually several dozen, for low costs and fewer fees. With most companies, these monthly subscriptions and stores include many perks, such as traffic reports for your items and listing upgrades such as bold typeface, colors and other text formatting options to make them stand out. These perks vary by company. Additionally, a store is beneficial if you are selling multiple items that are similar to each other so buyers can easily find your store and browse your merchandise.
Are These Services Safe to Sell On?
When buying and selling online, you must be cautious of auction fraud. This can occur several different ways, but the most common is when a seller does not deliver or ship a purchased item. Other ways you could fall victim include purchasing black-market goods without knowing it and being charged numerous hidden fees. It can also occur when a seller is not honest about the value and quality of an item.
To avoid falling victim to these internet crimes, you should research the seller. One of your first steps should be to view the seller's profile and read any feedback left by other buyers. If anything looks suspicious or the seller has poor feedback, avoid them. Also, be cautious of sellers outside of your country or those who ask for payment to be mailed to a P.O. box.
When using these services, always pay with a credit card or other form of payment where you can dispute charges if you never receive the items. Never mail cash or a check to the seller, and be wary of those who ask you to.
Online Auction Services: What We Evaluated, What We Found
The selling process for online auction services can be simple or complex. We evaluated each service to see how simple it is to use. While we didn't test each service individually by selling items, we compared the sites' buying and selling processes and how simple it is to set up a listing on each.
We also looked at the cost of each service and whether the fees outweigh the benefits. We found the best online auction services, such as eBay, provide numerous listing options to help you grab buyers' attention and offer a wide enough audience that the buyers are there in the first place.
Auction sites that have a large membership pool and recognizable names have the highest selling fees. Well-known sites attract more customers, and more customers indicate a higher demand for your products. As such, the sites that have more members and well-known names charge more fees to do business with them. Together, the fees can equal a large percentage of your profit, especially if you sell multiple items.
When you sell online, you incur a variety of fees. Most sites charge a seller verification fee, a small charge to verify that the information you provided to the site is correct. Some sites charge a listing or insertion fee to post your item and a relisting fee if your item does not sell and you want to post it again. For you to enhance your listings with bolded text, colors or additional photos, the site charges a small listing upgrade fee.
Additionally, you pay a final value fee after your item sells, which is usually a set percentage of the total cost of the item. The fees are small enough that if you are only selling a few items, you maintain a large profit margin.
Some sites charge a flat fee to use their services or a monthly store subscription fee instead of small fees per item. If you plan on selling multiple items for an extended period, flat monthly fees are more cost-effective. Most payment services, such as PayPal, also charge an additional fee per transaction. When you are pricing your merchandise, take into account the various fees both the auction site and payment services will charge.
What Else to Look For
The best auction sites offer free features to improve the selling and buying experience. Bidding sites that include security features, which keep your financial information private, and allow multiple payment methods attract more customers and increase the likelihood of your selling success. Strong support sections on the sites can also be very helpful when you're trying to sell. FAQs sections usually list important information about the entire auction process, such as how to list items, set prices, collect payments and leave feedback.
Size of Site
You want your item to be seen and numerous buyers to view your page regularly if you wish to be successful at selling your items online. To use most online auction sites, you must become a registered user. Before you choose to sell on the site, see how many registered users the site has and, if possible, how many of those users are active. The companies on our lineup range from just over 1,000 users to more than 160 million. The traffic to your listing makes all the difference between zero bids and lots of money.
You can add several features to your listings to help sell your items. With extra photo options, other aesthetic listing enhancements and the ability to open your auctions to international customers, online auction services provide the necessary features to sell your items. However, these services charge small fees for enhancing your listings.
Online auctions also allow buyers to search for you by username and save your information to view your items regularly, which helps you keep customers for return sales. If you have a poor experience with a buyer, such as one who refuses to pay, you can block them from your listings.
The best online auction sites have features that not only help you sell your items, but also improve the buyer's experience. Sites that equally weigh the buyer's and the seller's needs promote an enjoyable experience and offer you the most success.
The amount of payment options a site offers can greatly affect your experience as a seller as well as a buyer. Different payment options charge fees to use their services. You will want a service with low fees but a credible name. Buyers are more likely to use a payment service they already have an account with or know they can trust. As such, the more options you provide, the wider the range of customers you will attract.
The most common third-party payment site that these services integrate with is PayPal, which often transfers your payment to you sooner than other methods. PPPay.com and Skrill are other options you may see, as well as credit and debit cards, money orders, and checks. Be wary of the potential for scams and additional fees with credit cards. Also, be aware that asking to be paid by cash or check can make you look like an untrustworthy seller.
Most online auction sites only provide an email address or online contact form, which can be frustrating if you need immediate help. The best auction sites have extensive FAQs pages and community forums to offer support and important information. Some even have video tutorials to help you use all of the features of the site.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
If you are looking for a wide audience and have many items to sell, eBay is the best option for you. With more than 160 million registered users, it has plenty of eyes and interest for a variety of products. This company also boasts numerous listing options. To sell multiple items, a store subscription is the way to go.
eBid also provides a wide audience of more than 2 million users. There is no listing or seller verification fee required, and using the website is simple. It also offers many selling features, including feedback options, page view counts and listing upgrades. Feedback and page view counts let you see how you are reaching your buyers and how you can improve, and the listing upgrades can help you in your improvement goals.
Bonanza also tops the charts with its simplicity and numerous listing options. This site walks you through the entire setup process and gives you many selling benefits, such as the ability to upload numerous photos and customize your store. You can also enjoy live chat customer support if you choose a premium membership plan.
With more people shopping online, auction websites have grown and evolved. The sites open up a worldwide marketplace where you can buy, sell or start your own business from the comfort of your home. If you simply want to get rid of unwanted items, you can do that as well with online auction sites.