9 Tips for Hosting a Successful Online Auction

Online auctions don't stop at these uncertain times. Instead, your organization must be prepared to adapt to unforeseen and unexpected conditions that potentially limit fundraising income.

With so many moving parts, holding an in-person auction online can be a bit difficult.

To help you maximize your online auctions, we've compiled a few tips from our experience with most of these online events.

1. Stock Up on Your Items

First, take an inventory of all the items you plan to include during your online auction.

The beauty of an online auction is that you can sell one or 100 items over a period of time. To get started, we recommend that you choose a key group of about 20 items. You can then come back later and start adding more items to your auction when you're ready. You can cascade the closing hours on items to keep your bidders busy and come back for more.

2. Set Your Starting Bids Correctly

Typically, you should set the starting bids for your online auction items at 35% of their recommended value. Your goal here is to get 80% to 100% of the market value and measure 12 to 16 bids per item.

3.Define the Rules

If you are hosting an online auction, bidders may have questions about how to secure their products or what logistics related to shipping might be.
For example, you can alert all buyers that you will contact them via email or phone for delivery options. You can also include this information in any e-mail you send when you first announced the online auction.

4. Promote Everything

Now that you have organized your auction online, it is important that you communicate effectively with your buyers via email and social media. For example, after getting your items online, post the event landing page on your social profiles, even if the official auction has not yet opened. Be sure to include a few photos of your highlights.

5.Use Photos

Bidders will likely be looking at your products on their laptops, phones, tablets and other devices. Make sure you include at least three images per item.

A business logo on a white background is an easy addition and provides quick identification of the product.

6.Use Buy Now and Maximum Bidding

Two of the biggest values ​​of online auctions are Maximum Bidding and Buy Now. Maximum bidding allows a bidder to set an "not exceeded" amount and bid on behalf of the system itself.

Buy Now allows you to set the highest price at which you want to sell the product. Typically, if a bidder chooses to buy with the buy now feature, bidding for that item stops and the item is sold to that bidder at the buy now price. If you allow the buy now option for an item, be sure to set the price 20% to 30% higher than market value.

7.Host a Multi-Day Auction

When you switch from a face-to-face auction to an online auction, you are no longer locked in to a single night to get all your bids. You can set up your auction within a few days and even consider opening the auction a week earlier. These extra days allow you to send multiple emails and social media posts that direct the event, your stuff, and buyers to your site.

8.Start a Virtual Event

Opening your auction a few days early can create a natural bridge to a full-fledged virtual event or live stream. You can use your virtual event to recreate certain elements of the face-to-face auction by broadcasting a small group of people live sharing the experience with the audience.

9.Motivate Everyone

In an online auction, remember that you are competing for a donor's attention online, so give them a reason to pay attention to you.

Make sure you let your audience know when these incentives occur so that they are aware and able to participate. This also becomes another point of contact for connecting and keeping your buyers engaged.

Click to take a look at our online auctions.