In the History of the Auctioning World – part 1, we learned about auction history by uncovering the history of traditional auctions. The evolution of auctions has come a long way since 500 BC. The History of the Auctioning World – part 2 covers the auction history of the very first auctions, how technology has shaken up the auctioning world, the expanse of online auctions, auction websites, and the future of auctioneering.

The very first online auctions

One might think that the first online auctions were on Ebay. They weren’t, however. They were actually done through Warner Cable Corporation’s Videotext experiment, QUBE, which went live in 1977. People subscribed to channels on their cable tv’s such as the “Columbus Alive” talk show and called in their bids. Can one imagine? 

Buyers and sellers moved from their La-Z-boys to their computer chairs in the 1980’s, using messaging boards similar to reddit or quora to bid online. Entrepreneurs took note of the large success yielded by online trading, and began to have big ideas – global ones – for the possibility of online auctions. With the rapid emergence of technology, modern auctions would soon face one of the biggest revolutions across industries yet. 

New technology improving the auctioning world

Technology began to disrupt the auction business in the 1990s. Auctioneers started using mobile phones, computers, fax machines and projectors to make their work run more efficiently. The dot-com bubble brought around a little site called E-Bay, which grew to be the most successful online bidding business. To this day, anyone can put anything from their childhood baseball card collection, Barbie dolls, or their BMW’s on Ebay and watch the numbers roll in before their eyes. Strong competitors to Ebay have been Yahoo! and

The biggest benefit of technology for auctioneers, buyers, and sellers alike is its global and instant reach. Technology enables auctions to happen digitally – this means that at the click of a button, buyers can attend modern auctions without even being in person. 

The Expanse of Online auctions

Since the dot-com bubble peaked in 2000, online auctions have since expanded a great deal. One failed but interesting experiment in the modern auction industry were “Penny Auctions”, or bidding fee auctions. Each participant would pay a small non-refundable fee, and the last person to bid would win. Each auction would last 10-20 seconds. This quickly became unpopular because of the critique against the auctioneer making money from the fees rather than the item for sale. Another group that grew fond of online auctions were charity groups – charities have raised countless dollars toward organizations with causes ranging from environmental to medical research using online auctions. This remains one of the most effective fundraising methods for charities today. 

Auction Websites 

The most popular auction site today remains as Ebay. As mentioned, other sides have been wildly successful including, Yahoo!, Catawiki, ShopGoodWill, Green Delta, The SaleRoom, Atomic Mall, and Hip eCommerce. Let’s zoomin on Ebay since it is undeniably the most successful. There are two ways to list items on Ebay: fixed-price listings and auction-format listings. Fixed-price is just how it sounds; a cost is displayed, and one can click and purchase on the spot. Auction-format listings are more complex – there sia  bidding system for the listings which is open for a specific amount of time. Bidders must place a big that is higher than the current one. The bidder could pay less than their bid if they win, however, if their bid wins, they must buy the listing. There is also an option to list the maximum amount which one is willing to play and enter into an automatic bidding practice, which automatically bids on the buyer’s behalf until the time runs out. 

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Another Auctioneer website is called Equipnet, which is revolutionizing the world of surplus asset management with expertise across many verticals including pharmaceutical, biotech, chemical, semiconductor, aerospace, automotive, and consumer packaged goods. Equipnet is joined by Dechow Auktionen, which is a leading German industrial auctioneer with more than 100 years of experience in the auction world. SRI Advertising, Troostwijk, Euro Auctions, BVA Auctions, Apex Auctions, DB Reklame Services, Equify, Hilco Industrial, International Auction Group, and AH Asset Solutions also reign supreme as far as auction websites offering prime services to industry professionals. Many of these websites provide services that when combined with auctions, make corporate asset management companies very successful. These include Appraisals, Procurement, and Project Management. 

The future of Auctioneering 

Since 500 BC, almost anything has been auctioned – this is as much a human habit as a business opportunity. Since the development of the web and international markets, the world is becoming increasingly global, and with that, increasingly digital. This means that digitized marketplaces are becoming more variant, bigger, and more successful than ever due to their efficiency. Any entrepreneur or business owner who wants to be successful must acknowledge that online auctions are the norm – the change has happened, and it’s time to adapt. Though it’s impossible to tell the future, it’s important to know what external market forces are occuring within the industry and how they might affect business on more micro levels – from strategy to daily practices. Factors like national debt, unemployment, and even real estate can affect the lives of auctioneers, buyers, and sellers. For example, struggling business owners may want to sell extra equipment, which makes demand for auctions high. Buyers may be more hesitant to purchase or slower with their timelines since they are trying to keep their businesses afloat. International sales might become more important if fellow countrymen are in high water. The list goes on. This is why it is ever important to participate in online auctions and make the most of the resources available to us today. 

Being smart and resourceful in the modern auction world means using high technology to our advantage. The future of Auctioneering is unwritten – and the possibilities endless. 

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