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Our top tips for winning at online auctions.
3 mins

Top 10 tips for winning at auction


Participating in an auction can be an exhilarating experience, especially when you have your eye on a dream item. Whether it's big brand retail return, a rare collectable, an antique piece of furniture or a unique piece of art, winning an auction takes strategy, patience, and a bit of luck. Here are ten tips to help you secure that coveted item and make your auction experience a successful one.

1. Research thoroughly

Before the auction begins, gather as much information as possible about the item you want. Understand its history, condition, and market value. This knowledge will help you set a realistic budget and avoid overbidding. Look for detailed descriptions, provenance, and past sale prices of similar items. Check for any documentation that proves authenticity, such as certificates or appraisals. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to make a smart bid.

2. Set a budget and stick to it

Determine how much you’re willing to spend on the item, including any additional fees like buyer's premiums, taxes, and shipping costs. Setting a firm limit is crucial because it helps you avoid the pitfall of emotional bidding. Consider the total cost rather than just the bid amount. Calculate potential expenses and decide on a maximum bid that keeps you within your financial comfort zone. Resist the temptation to exceed your limit, no matter how competitive the bidding gets. Remember, there will always be another auction and another opportunity.

3. Familiarise yourself with the auction platform

Take time to learn how our timed auction platform works. Understand the bidding process, the auction’s terms and conditions, and any specific rules that apply. Familiarise yourself with features like auction timers and bid increments. This preparation will help you navigate the auction smoothly and confidently. Check out the tutorials and FAQs that can guide you through the process. Additionally, ensure your internet connection is stable to avoid any last-minute technical glitches.

4. Inspect items virtually

Since you may not be able to inspect items in person, take advantage of any virtual previews or detailed listings provided. High-quality photos, descriptions, and condition reports can give you a better sense of the item’s value and authenticity. Look for signs of wear, damage, or restoration in the images. If possible, request additional information or images from the seller to clarify any concerns. Virtual previews often include zoomable images and 360-degree views, which can help you inspect the item more thoroughly.

5. Observe auctions before participating

Before jumping into bidding, observe a few timed auctions to understand the dynamics. Notice how the bidding progresses, the strategies others use, and the timing of successful bids. This insight can be invaluable when it’s your turn to bid. Pay attention to patterns, such as common bid increments and the pace of bidding as the auction nears its end. Watching other auctions will also help you become familiar with the platform’s interface and timing mechanisms.

6. Bid strategically

Start with a lower bid to gauge interest and competition. Avoid bidding too early or too high, as this can drive up the price unnecessarily. Instead, time your bids carefully, often in the final moments of the auction, to avoid a prolonged bidding war. Many bidders wait until the last few minutes to place their bids, so be prepared for a flurry of activity as the auction nears its end. Develop a plan for when and how much to bid at various stages of the auction and be ready to execute it quickly. Our platform stops last minute bidders swooping in though as more time gets added on if this happens so no need for panic.

7. Stay calm and focused

Auctions can be intense, but it’s important to stay calm and focused. Keep your emotions in check and stick to your strategy. Remember, there will always be other opportunities if you miss out on this one. Don’t let the fear of missing out (FOMO) drive you to make hasty decisions. Take deep breaths and remind yourself of your research and budget. Staying composed will help you make rational decisions and avoid regrettable mistakes.

8. Monitor the auction

It’s fun to keep a close eye on the auction as it progresses. Set reminders or alarms for key moments, especially as the auction nears its end. Being vigilant will help you react swiftly to outbid notifications and place your bids at the right times. Consider dedicating a specific time slot to monitoring the auction, so you can stay fully engaged without distractions. Our platform lets you know if you get outbid though so don’t worry if you’re busy with other things.

9. Understand the fine print

Read the auction’s terms and conditions carefully. Understand the payment methods, deadlines, and any policies regarding returns or disputes. Being aware of these details can save you from unexpected surprises after the auction. Check the auction’s shipping and handling policies, as these can significantly impact the total cost and delivery time of your item. Familiarise yourself with any fees that might apply. Knowing the fine print helps you avoid misunderstandings and ensures a smoother post-auction experience.

10. Stay ethical

Always bid ethically. Avoid shill bidding (bidding on your own items to inflate prices) and respect other bidders. Ethical behaviour ensures a fair and enjoyable auction experience for everyone. Shill bidding is not only unethical but often illegal and can lead to severe penalties. Similarly, avoid colluding with other bidders to manipulate the auction outcome. Maintain integrity by bidding honestly and respecting the auction process.

By following these tips, you'll be well-prepared to navigate the timed auction process and increase your chances of winning your dream item. Remember that preparation and strategy are key to a successful auction experience. Take a look at our live auctions now and happy bidding, and may the odds be ever in your favour!