Entrepreneurial Selling

Assessing Online Auction Sites

Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures

Selling products at online auction websites can be a very profitable business. Regardless of the product being sold, the decision concerning which auction website a business uses is very vital. How do you go about assessing online auction sites?

The following are some important criteria you can use when assessing auction sites.

How user friendly is the site?

One of the most crucial attributes of any website, whether an information site or an auction site, is the ability to navigate through the site intuitively. If you find the site easy to use but your users find it confusing, your products won't sell. The user's perspective is more important than the sellers. Ask yourself questions such as; Is it easy to use? Does the site layout make sense? Are the buttons well placed, logical and clear? Is it easy to search the site? Are the features and categories clearly explained and easy to find?

Are there sufficient product groupings and do they make sense? Whereas some websites are built to specifically sell one category of products like home made products or antiques, other sites are built to enable sellers to sell almost anything. In spite of what kind of product you are selling, it is vital to ensure the categories provided by the site make sense to both the buyer and the seller. For example, if the product being sold is jewelry, common sense categories could be bracelets, rings, necklaces etc. In addition, helpful categories could include gold, silver, charms, diamonds etc. Assess the categories in each auction site to ensure they encompass your products, as well terms customers normally use to search.

Is the buying process easy?

Buying should be an easy, safe and straightforward process. Features to check for in an auction site are pictures, price, payment methods, description options, and security protections and practices.

What features are provided for sellers?

Some auction sites offer sellers so much, while others make them sweat for the least sale. Find a website that allows sellers to control the process. Look for features such as the ability to block bidders, communicate with buyers through email, and upload descriptions and images. Tracking tools are also very useful for large auction sellers. Look for features which make it easy to ship, easy to build a store, and easy to follow-up problems and feedback. A site that offers mediation in case of a dispute could also be a helpful feature for some sellers.

What features are provided for buyers?

More vital than feature provided for sellers are the features provided for buyers. The more features a website has, the more users it will attract, which results in more potential sales. Examine what the online auction website offers buyers. Are they allowed to create accounts? Are they allowed to provide feedback?

What is the reputation of the auction site?

Some online auction websites, like EBay, have existed for years and have a proven reputation. To evaluate a site, examine what they give in customer support and their responsiveness. If sellers or buyers have to wait too long for a response, that is a red light.

Charles Mburugu writes for us from his home in Nairobi. He has a graduate degree in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management. He is interested in writing about branding, CSR and intellectual property.

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