Starting Online Businesses

Online Auction Retail: Getting Started

Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures

Online auction retailing has become a popular business choice for many people all over the world. It allows you to work from home and be a useful retailer at the same time.

Starting an online auction business allows you to benefit from the established online auction websites, many of which advertise heavily and have a proven reputation in the industry.

Online auction sites offer retailers tools such as easy listings, payment options, store building wizards and various marketing and tracking information. All these make getting started as an online auction retailer a fairly simple process.

If you are interested in being an online auction retailer, the following are some things you need to know to get started.

What will you sell?

It is vital to make this decision very early. It is advisable to start small with a specific item. For example, you have an interest in home made items, you could choose to sell lamp stands first before broadening your product base. This offers sellers a chance to specialize, build their business slowly, and master online auction processes before increasing inventory.

Where will you sell it?

There are numerous online auction sites. Some are great, others just average. Conduct some research on various online auction sites. Check for factors such as ease of use, ease of the buying process, feature provided for buyers, features provided for sellers, and the reputation of the site.


Pictures are very vital. Acquire a digital camera and practice taking shots. Buyers want to observe the condition of items before they place a bid. Find locations in your home that are free from distractions and have good lighting.

Descriptions for inventory

Take time to look at how items are described in auction sites. What headlines click? What items make you want to place a bid? Take a note of descriptions that work. Practice writing descriptions and headlines for your products. This is a vital part of the online auction business.

Information about the competition

Research your competition. Go to online auction sites you are thinking of joining and observe your competition. What are their strong points? How can you improve on what is already being done?

Shipping and distribution

Once an item is sold, it needs to be packaged and then shipped. This is one particular area where feedback is received. If an item takes too long to arrive, buyers won't be happy. Consider your distribution and shipping options. In addition, if inventory items are not packaged and ready for shipping, examine affordable packaging options.

Accepting payments

Most online auction sites deal with the payment process on your behalf. This service is normally charged. Decide early what you can afford and ways of making purchase convenient for your buyers.

Business identity

Most online auction sites allow retailers to build a retail store. The store should have a logo, a separate website, an address and contact information.

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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