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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

The pace of your online auction

Recently, I attended an auction watching and listening to a very talented auctioneer — selling items anywhere from $10 up to $1,000 at a pace of about 3 lots per minute.

Today, I’m watching an online auction where lots close every 2 minutes — where in that same 120 seconds, the live auctioneer would have sold 6 lots. Why is one auction selling an item every 20 seconds, and the other every 120 seconds?

If we aren’t making live bidders wait unnecessarily given it’s not 1950 anymore, why is any auctioneer making online bidders wait unnecessarily? I’m using the word, “unnecessarily” with purpose as making bidders wait is generally unnecessary.

In fact, many studies suggest the quicker the auctioneer (or the auction) goes, the more money will be generated — as bidders become better engaged and bid again in fear of losing out without time to overthink — helping the auctioneer and seller.

The other side of the issue is with more time waiting, bidders become less engaged — maybe even bored — and essentially have too much time to think and don’t bid as much. As such, extending the wait time may result in less money for the auctioneer and seller.

Of course, with anything, there is the concept of “too fast” in that closing live or online lots every 4 seconds is probably too quick. We explored this perceived difference:

Further, live or online, bidders can place absentee and/or “max bids” and then not have to worry about the pace, in that the auctioneer’s staff or software handles the bidding. Many bidders do this because they have busy schedules otherwise.

Online it’s unusual that one bidder would endeavor to buy all lots … so if I’m a bidder and want Lot #1, Lot #23, and Lot #87 with a 2-minute-between-lots closing makes me wait almost 45 minutes between #1 and #23 and then over 2 hours more waiting between #23 and #87. That’s far too much waiting.

With these same lots, and live with my aforementioned famous auctioneer? Time between Lot #1 and Lot #23? Maybe 8 minutes. Time between Lot #23 and Lot #87? Maybe 22 minutes. That’s not much waiting — which is almost always a good thing for all involved.

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 formerly at 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 Auction 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.

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