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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Are online auctions going away? Probably …

This is a picture from The Ladies’ home journal (1948.) It could be any number of thousands of ads on radio, television and social media today in 2019: “Easy!”

Every seller of insurance, groceries, legal services, clothing, rental cars, airlines, hotels, vehicles … is trying to find how (or already has found out how) to make it easier to buy from them. So what is easier than buying at an online auction?

How about a click and it’s mine? That’s a bunch easier than waiting 5 days for an online auction to close. For that matter, as we’ve often suggested, it might be easier (and quicker) to buy at a live auction rather than online. A buy-it-now however is quicker and easier than either.

eBay started in 1995 with a 100% online auction marketplace. Today, almost 90% of eBay is “Buy-it-now” rather than an auction format (last data is from 2017 where it was 88% Buy-it-now.) Could online auctions turn into buy-it-now events? I think we’ve already answered that question.

What do buyers want in 2019? They want whatever they want right now. What do buyers in 2019 not want? To wait. Almost any auction involves waiting … for the live auction event or the online auction to conclude.

We wrote about this basic concept in late 2018: Today, we’re expanding on this notion in regard to “online auctions will never go away …” We think online auctions probably will.

Lastly, a buy-it-now platform must have accurate pricing history (comparables) as well as insight into the current marketplace — in order to help price property properly. Could computer systems do this? They probably already are — so this seems to solve the last issue in regard to this evolution.

Further, buy-it-now formats don’t only benefit buyers — sellers get their money now rather than waiting for the auction to end; with minimum bid (reserve) auctions some property is relisted and relisted only to finally sell (or not) weeks or months later. Generally — but not always — buy-it-now can move money and property quicker.

What does the future hold for auctioneers? It wouldn’t surprise me if it was live auction “events” (maybe coupled with online bidding) and online buy-it-now offerings which make up a vast majority of items being handled by auctioneers. And maybe a question for another day … if the online environment becomes a buy-it-now marketplace, do those sellers need auctioneers?

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

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