If you really want an item on eBay or another auction site, it's important to know how to win an online auction. This isn't like bidding in an in-person auction or simply purchasing something online. You need practical tips to help you win a timed auction without going over your budget.
Things to Remember About Online Auctions
An online auction is a unique shopping experience. You're competing against other interested bidders to purchase an item, and there's almost always a time limit for bidding. You may have noticed the prices going up quickly as the auction draws to a close, and it can be a challenge to get your bid in there in time. It's also hard to know how much to bid. As you formulate your online auction bidding strategy, keep these things in mind:
- Online auctions start slowly and end quickly. Expect bidding to accelerate as the time limit nears.
- The bidding may not reflect the actual value of the item. Sometimes, a valuable piece can go for a low price, and sometimes there's a lot of demand that drives the price up.
- You can buy almost anything in an online auction, from vintage cars to carnival glass. It's a good way to find something specific.
- You'll be responsible to pay the amount of your final bid, so you should never bid more than you're willing or able to pay.
Online Auction Tips to Help You Win
Bidding in an online auction can feel intimidating, but it doesn't have to. Especially if you have an item you really want, these tips can help you win.
Know Your Maximum Bid Before You Start
Before you start bidding, set your maximum. What's the most you're willing to pay for an item? When you're considering your maximum bid, it's important to consider the value of the antiques or vintage pieces you're considering. Unless it's something you really want for a specific reason, you don't want to set your maximum bid above the actual value of the item.
Don't Get Emotionally Invested
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of bidding or to become attached to an item you really want. However, getting emotionally attached is not how to win an online auction. It clouds your judgement, and you may end up spending more than an item is worth. Try to think of it objectively and stick to your maximum bid.
Be Ready to Watch Your Bid
Before you bid, make sure you have time in your schedule to check in often if you're bidding on something you really want. Winning an online auction takes some time. You'll need to check in at least daily in the beginning and then be present for the last part of bidding. That way, if you need to increase your bid, you can.
Consider Proxy Bidding
If you think you may not be able to watch your bid, consider using proxy bidding. With proxy bidding, you give your maximum bid and then authorize the computer to continue bidding for your automatically up until you reach the maximum. This ensures that if you look away at the wrong time or get busy, you can still keep your spot as the top bidder.
Choose Shorter Auctions
Online auctions can range from a few hours to several days or more. Sometimes, it's easier to win auctions with a shorter period because fewer people will be competing for the item. You can also watch this type of auction more closely, since it won't require days of your time.
Bid at Times Everyone Is Busy
A good strategy for winning an online auction is to bid when other people are busy doing something else. Some of the best times include early mornings when people are getting ready for work, late afternoon as they are commuting home, and the middle of the night. Also consider bidding on auctions that end on a holiday, since most people won't be available to watch their bids in the critical last few minutes of a timed auction.
Bid an Odd Amount
Set your maximum bid to an odd number or a fraction of a dollar. Instead of setting your maximum bid to $150, for instance, set it to $150.17. This lets you beat out people who set the standard $150 or a penny or two more.
Wait Until the End to Bid
One of the most important strategies for winning an online auction is waiting to bid until the end. If you bid early in the auction, you are alerting other potential bidders that the item is desirable. However, if you wait until near the end to start bidding, you can be a part of the intense final moments without encouraging other bidders to jump on the bandwagon.