Real-time Online Auctions - Arriving later in 2018

You've been asking for it... Now it's well underway...

Lately we've been selling ever more items to absentee bidders. In 2017, nearly 50% by value sold to bidders not attending the auctions in person. Although our clients have been requesting live online bidding for some time, we've been reluctant to adopt the available systems other auction houses use. Reasons for this include the costs of set-up, competent staff to run it during the auctions, and all the resultant extra charges we'd have to pass on to our customers. Also, many people tell us they get annoyed attending auctions where the best stuff always seems to go to online bidders, as "it's not a level playing field" - plus of course the frustration for everyone when the internet connection goes down during a sale!

During the last 2 years we've been actively thinking, consulting with our customers, thinking, planning, studying the available off-the-shelf options, thinking and more thinking.

Phase 1 - Proof of Concept

Here's a sneaky peek at our new online auction system in operation...

There's lot's more work to do yet... but the most challenging part, which is keeping all bids and auction timers in sync within a few milliseconds, for all bidders at the same time, world-wide, has been cracked!
The layout and look etc. will all be refined over time, but the basic concept is to enable clients to watch a whole screenful of lots which are 'ending soon' in real-time, and allow bidding on any of those lots without having to visit a separate page (unlike eBay) or constantly refresh their internet browser.
It might not look it, but hundreds of hours have already been invested into coding the interface to make it as simple and intuitive as possible, without all the unnecessary 'screen junk' of other auction websites.

The BIG Idea... and how we'll be different...

Online bidding has been around for quite a few years. Essentially there's two established ways of doing it, but we don't like either of them!

Firstly there's "the eBay way:"
The main problem with this type of online-only auction for buyers is that you can rarely inspect the items before bidding. There are countless cases of the items not even existing, being badly misrepresented and so on. For sellers there is a lack of annonymity that traditional auction houses offer, as your contact details are made available to the bidder / buyer - or indeed everyone if you're a business seller. Larger items may have to be collected from your home by strangers, with the obvious security concerns that raises. These issues do not exist with 'bricks-n-mortar' auction houses.

Secondly there's "the Saleroom way:"
Most 'bricks-n-mortar' auction houses these days offer live internet bidding during their auctions via services like Saleroom, iBidder etc. For sellers this has opened up a whole world of bidders. Buyers can bid from the comfort of their armchair. Brilliant all-round huh? Well... Maybe... The problem is having both in-person and online bidding at the same time just ends up frustrating people. It frustrates those in the auction room when everything they want sells to the internet, or the internet goes down causing delays, or the auctioneer seems far more interested in those bidding online instead of the few poor souls who've actually made the effort to turn up to the auction! Then for those bidding online of course there are similar arguments from the opposing perspective. Difficult to please everyone!

But is there "another way?" - we think so:
We want to combine as many of the advantages, and as few of the disadvantages of both ways and combine them into one new way. That sounds like some awful political spiel... bare with!...

So, in a nutshell, the Elephant House will become a permanent showroom full of interesting goodies. We'll open one or two days every week for you to drop off items you want to sell, browse the items on offer, and pick up items you've already won. Best of all there'll be more time to chat all things slot machine and fairground over a cuppa and maybe a slice of cake. Then you'll bid online at home in the comfort of your PJ's over another cuppa. And more cake. Never forget the cake.
So, we gain all the advantages of a world-wide audience of bidders, together with knowing for sure that the items really do exist and are impartially described, with more relaxed opportunities to view, a bidding system that puts everyone on a level playing field, and your privacy protected with no strangers from the internet peering through your windows! Now doesn't that sound like a much better way of doing things? We think so...

Questions... Questions... Questions...

There's bound to be lots of questions of course, so we'll answer the frequent ones here as things move forward:

Q: Does this mean you'll have no more 'proper' auctions?
A: No, for the meantime we'll still be holding 'proper' auctions at the Elephant House and occassionally at other locations for clearances etc. The online system needs further development before being phased in later this year. We'll probably start with the smaller cheaper items online, whilst we iron out any wrinkles.

Q: When will the online auctions start?
A: We don't know yet, hopefully towards the summer.

Q: Will you be incorporating X feature?
A: Maybe!... please tell us what feature you'd like via the suggestions box below - We're open to all good ideas!

Suggestion Box - Tell us what features you'd like?

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